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On Gin Lane

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About The Book

“Utterly captivating. What a lovely summer novel!” —Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author

On Gin Lane encapsulates the very best of historical fiction.” —Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author

After her fiancé whisks her off to the glistening shores of Southampton in June of 1957, one young socialite begins to realize that her glamorous summer is giving her everything—except what she really wants—in this new novel from the author of Summer Darlings.

Everleigh “Lee” Farrows thinks she finally has life all figured out: a handsome fiancé named Roland, a trust in her name, and a house in Bronxville waiting for her to fill it with three adorable children. That is, until Roland brings her out to the Hamptons for a summer that will change everything.

Most women could only dream of the engagement present Roland unexpectedly bestows on Lee—a beachside hotel on the prized Gin Lane—but Lee’s delight is clouded by unpleasant memories of another hotel, the Plaza, where she grew up in the shadow of her mother’s mental illness. Shaking off flashbacks, Lee resolves to dive into an unforgettable summer with poolside Bellinis, daily tennis matches, luncheons with her Manhattan circle, and her beloved camera in tow. But when tragedy strikes on the hotel’s opening weekend, the cracks in Lee’s picture-perfect future slowly begin to reveal themselves, and Lee must look deep within herself to determine if the life she’s always wanted will ever truly be enough.

From the regal inns to the farmland, the well-heeled New Yorkers to the Bohemian artists, the East End of Long Island is a hodge-podge of the changing American landscape in the late 1950s—and the perfect place for Lee to discover who she really is.

Reading Group Guide

On Gin Lane

Brooke Lea Foster

This reading group guide for On Gin Lane includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

After her fiancé whisks her off to the glistening shores of Southampton in June of 1957, one young socialite begins to realize that her glamorous summer is giving her everything—except what she really wants—in this new novel from the author of Summer Darlings.

Everleigh “Lee” Farrows thinks she finally has life all figured out: a handsome fiancé named Roland, a trust in her name, and a house in Bronxville waiting for her to fill it with three adorable children. That is, until Roland brings her out to the Hamptons for a summer that will change everything.

Most women could only dream of the engagement present Roland unexpectedly bestows on Lee—a beachside hotel on the prized Gin Lane—but Lee's delight is clouded by unpleasant memories of another hotel, the Plaza, where she grew up in the shadow of her mother's mental illness. Shaking off flashbacks, Lee resolves to dive into an unforgettable summer with poolside Bellinis, daily tennis matches, luncheons with her Manhattan circle, and her beloved camera in tow. But when tragedy strikes on the hotel's opening weekend, the cracks in Lee's picture-perfect future slowly begin to reveal themselves, and Lee must look deep within herself to determine if the life she's always wanted will ever truly be enough.

From the regal inns to the farmland, the well-heeled New Yorkers to the Bohemian artists, the East End of Long Island is a hodge-podge of the changing American landscape in the late 1950s—and the perfect place for Lee to discover who she really is.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Revisit the first chapter now that you know the full story. What was your first impression of Everleigh? Of Roland? What did you originally predict for the hotel?

2. The author takes her time detailing the hotel, the ocean, and the Hamptons where Everleigh spent her summer. What images struck you the most? How does the historical portrayal differ from what you know or have heard about the Hamptons?

3. How would you characterize the dramatic shift between chapters 3 and 4? Heartbreaking? Exciting? Devastating?

4. Although Roland started off as a loving and accepting fiancé, he slowly began to change. How did you react to the portrayal of the “traditional” husband role his character represented? When did your perception of his character start to shift?

5. Everleigh's passion for photography is expressed from the start. How does Everleigh's camera reflect her inner desire for freedom?

6. Compare and contrast Whitney and Everleigh. In what ways are they similar? Different? What do you think brings them together and what draws them apart? Have you ever struggled with a friend similarly?

7. When Starling and Everleigh first meet at the art colony, are the two women impacted equally? In what ways? Do you think this moment marks a major character shift for Everleigh? Describe and discuss other moments that are pivotal in her development that summer.

8. The topic of mental illness is noted in the story through Everleigh's mother. Did you wish there was more of her mother's struggle in the story? How did the author express the taboo of mental health within society at the time?

9. The power derived from money is emphasized in key moments. Pinpoint a few and discuss. How does the time period and its societal norms influence them?

10. Although Everleigh grew up wealthy and privileged, she mentions twice in the book that money “is not everything” due to her troubled childhood. Discuss the implications of her statement and her relationship between money and happiness.

11. Discuss the evolution and changes that the small beach cottage undergoes throughout Everleigh and Roland's stay. What is the significance in Everleigh's cooking?

12. A recurring idea in On Gin Lane is one woman's struggle to gain control of her life. Do you think that women struggle similarly today? Be specific and use examples from your own life.

13. In what ways is the character of Curtis different from all the other men in Everleigh's life?

14. How does Starling's relationship with her daughter and Everleigh's relationship with her mother parallel?

15. In the closing chapter, Everleigh runs into Roland at the grocery store. They opt for a cordial hello and goodbye. Why do you think it is impactful that they did not fully interact? How did you feel about the overall ending of Everleigh's story?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. In On Gin Lane, Everleigh meets or mentions famous historical characters such as Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole. Take a little time in your book club to research the lives of some of these cultural icons. How do their characters and their real history influence and support the backdrop for the book?

2. Everleigh uses her camera as a tool to express, protect, and often detach herself from her life. Ask everyone in your book club to showcase any images they have taken in the past that help tell their individual story. Ask why they chose their particular photo.

3. On Gin Lane is a work of historical fiction and an allegory for feminism, highlighted through Everleigh's character journey and development. What other novels or books does Everleigh's story remind you of? Which feminist authors or characters come to mind? In your book club, discuss the importance of feminist literature.

About The Author

Photograph by Arbërie Hetemi

Brooke Lea Foster is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and HuffPost, among others. An alumna of The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, she is the author of three nonfiction books and the novels Summer Darlings and On Gin Lane

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery Books (May 31, 2022)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982174453

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Raves and Reviews

“What a lovely summer novel! On Gin Lane follows charming New York socialite Everleigh Farrows as she navigates the tricky social terrain of the Hamptons in the summer of 1957. The exquisite care given to vintage detail in this novel was utterly captivating—I felt like I was eating tomato sandwiches, bumping into romantic rivals at the Maidstone Club, and dancing in the street in my espadrilles.” Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hotel Nantucket

“Set on the tony East End of Long Island where the beautiful people play, On Gin Lane encapsulates the very best of historical fiction, delving into timeless questions about the traditional expectations of women versus the challenges and rewards of pursuing a creative career. An exciting, fast-paced, enchanting read.” —Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace

“Brooke Lea Foster brilliantly captures a bygone era in this sparkling tale of self-discovery that has it all: mystery, romance, and life-changing friendship. On Gin Lane is the perfect summer escape.” —Jamie Brenner, bestselling author of Blush

On Gin Lane begins as a languid, sensual glimpse into the lives of women in the late 1950s until a shocking event—and the ensuing investigation—ratchets up the tension. The book is at once a page-turner that kept me reading into the night, and a reminder of the importance of carving out a place for ourselves, whether it is by creating art or finding where we belong.” —Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library 

“If you’re looking to dive into historical fiction this summer, look no further than Brooke Lea Foster’s On Gin Lane. It’s the summer of 1957, and New York City socialite Lee Farrows seems to have it all: a handsome fiancé, a load of money, and a beachside hotel on Gin Lane in Southampton. But after a tragic incident occurs during the hotel’s opening weekend, Lee’s picture perfect life is suddenly shattered and she is forced to reckon with herself.” Town & Country

“Pressured to become a society wife by her wealthy parents in 1957, Everleigh yearns for a career in photography—and slowly grows bolder. Her journey captures the excitement and trepidation of women forging a new era.” People

"In this atmospheric new novel, Brooke Lea Foster explores the glittering and bohemian world of the Hamptons in the 1950s—and the dark underbelly that her protagonist never could have imagined. A page-turning mix of historical fiction and coming-of-age, readers will devour On Gin Lane, and its lessons of self-discovery and following one’s heart will remain long after the final page. This utterly enchanting tale is best savored poolside–and looks stunning on the coffee table to boot!"Off The Shelf

On Gin Lane first seduces with everything readers want in a sun-drenched tale: glamorous and colorful characters, evocative settings, and enough secrets to topple a town. But as our heroine battles a suspicious fire, fiancé, and social circle, author Foster slyly starts adding all the heady thrills of a modern-day Rebecca to the intoxicating mix. An un-put-downable, irresistible summer read.” —Natalie Jenner, author of the international bestseller The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls 

“In this atmospheric new novel, Brooke Lea Foster explores the glittering and bohemian world of the Hamptons in the 1950s—and the dark underbelly that her protagonist never could have imagined. A page-turning mix of historical fiction and coming-of-age, readers will devour On Gin Lane, and its lessons of self-discovery and following one's heart will remain long after the final page. An utterly enchanting tale.” —Kristy Woodson Harvey, New York Times bestselling author of Under the Southern Sky

“The glitzy late ’50s Hamptons sparkles like a coupe of champagne in this tantalizing novel from the talented Brooke Lea Foster.… A delightfully complex tale of deceit, social maneuvering, and self-determination that will have you cheering for the gutsy main character as she fights for the right to control her own fate.” —Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars

"Brooke Lea Foster pivots from Martha’s Vineyard to the Hamptons for another perceptive beach drama. On Gin Lane expertly builds out the various characters, revealing the ugly truths hidden by their wealth and social status. This story of a young woman’s self-discovery captivates." Publishers Weekly

“An engaging story that pairs a strong, female protagonist’s self-discovery with vivid descriptions of both setting and characters throughout.” —Booklist

“So, what sets one beach read apart from another? In On Gin Lane, Foster cleverly latches onto cultural history.” —27East

"Prepare to pack your beach bag this summer with the ultimate historical summer read from Brooke Lea Foster." —Women.com

On Gin Lane takes readers to a beautiful location. We can smell the ocean, we are poolside for Bellinis and luncheons, and on the courts for daily tennis matches. But behind the aesthetically pleasing atmosphere, there are cracks and lies in the façade. Is Roland who he presents to be? Who or what is behind the fire? Does Lee really want to settle down and get married or have a career? What other lies, misleading untruths and fraud are behind all the glamour? It’s a perfect summer read for the pool or beach.” Chick Lit Central

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