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The sixth in the Shadows Antique Print Mystery series finds Maggie Summer on Cape Cod in late October to help her best friend, Gussie White, with last minute wedding preparations.
But wedding attire takes second place to moving Gussie’s doll and toy shop to a new location, moving Gussie and her fiancé to their new home … and finding out who murdered their neighbor, whose daughter just arrived from Colorado. To add to the confusion, his body was just found on the beach, and his daughter thought he’d died in an accident two years ago. Why was he on the Cape to begin with, and why was he using another name? He’s been staying with his deaf cousin, who has an unusual profession … and Maggie gets involved with it all, when she’s not busy sampling possible wedding cakes, dealing with mother-in-law issues, and planning when she’ll tell her own beau, Will Brewer, some big news of her own. So it isn’t surprising that she hasn’t been listening to the weather channel ….
On top of everything else, it turns out both Maggie and Will had big plans for this wedding weekend they hadn’t shared with each other. They’re both stressed, Maggie’s in more danger than she knows, and usually easy-going Will is frustrated.
Will Maggie solve the murders? But in the process, will she push Will’s patience too far?
Next to Maine, Cape Cod is one of my favorite places, so it was fun to set the sixth in the Shadows series there. The first time I remember being on the Cape was the summer of 1953 when my family rented a cottage in Onset. Among my memories of trying to catch scallops with my bare hands, swimming in chilly waters, and playing family games of Canasta by the fire after dark, is having to pack up and leave quickly because Hurricane Carol was bearing down on Massachusetts and the Islands. We later heard that the first floor of the cottage we’d been renting had been flooded. Since then I’ve lived through other hurricanes, in other places, but that’s the only time I’ve had to evacuate, and the memory has stayed with me.
Readers have asked me why I gave Gussie post polio syndrome and Ben Down Syndrome. My answer is that both characters are very dear to me, because their role models are. Gussie is a compilation of several people. She’s a doll and toy dealer, like my grandmother, who did not have post polio syndrome, but whose inventory was very similar to Gussie’s. I grew up learning about McLaughlin Brothers paper dolls and Schoenhut Circuses. I’ve known four people with post polio syndrome: two adoptive parents, and two young friends who were adopted by a close friend of mine, and to whom I dedicated my book Wintering Well. Still later, my aunt, Jane Smart, also an antique dealer, was crippled by a stroke at a relatively young age, and used a wheelchair for many years. Her courage was inspiring, and this book is dedicated to her. As for Ben? My oldest granddaughter, Tori Wait, has Down Syndrome. While she was growing up she helped carry my antique prints in and out of shows many times, and inspired me to create Ben. Our world is made up of people with both abilities and disabilities, and I want my books to reflect that.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
Gussie and Jim have planned their wedding, but his mother has a very different idea of what it should be like. Do you think they handled their disagreements well, or not? Why or why not?
Maggie has gone to the Cape ostensibly to help Gussie, but she spends very little time with her. Instead, most of her time is taken up with helping Cordelia and Diana and trying to solve a mystery, and a murder. If you had been Gussie, would you have been as patient with Maggie?
Have you ever seen a “reborn” baby doll? What did you think when you read about them? Can you imagine buying one, for yourself or for someone else?
Three characters in Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding – Gussie, Ben and Cordelia - have disabilities, but all are fully functioning members of their community. Did their disabilities distract you from their roles in the plot? Do you think others in Winslow saw them as individuals or as, e.g., “the deaf and dumb woman.”
Do you think many women would feel comfortable going into a grungy fisherman’s hangout like the Lazy Lobster and sitting at the bar, as Maggie does, when they don’t know anyone there?
If you’ve read other books in the Shadows series, think about how Maggie has acted in earlier books. In Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding she seems nervous, and much less at ease with Will. Why do you think that is?
When Will confronts Maggie about not spending time with him, she pushes him off, and chooses to continue her investigation. Is he right to be disappointed and angry with her? Do you think this relationship is going to work in the long run? And what about Maggie’s plan to adopt a child. Do you think Maggie is going to be able to take the time to slow down enough to find time to be a parent?
What do you think is going to happen when Maggie and Will meet in Maine at Christmas time?
Stay tuned for Shadows on a Maine Christmas … publication in fall of 2014!
1865 hand-colored print of Great Black-Backed Gull from 1865
A History of British Birds by Rev. Francis Orpen. Chapter 16 heading in
Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding