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Local author shares inspiration behind novel

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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Then She Found Me,” then you’re already familiar with Elinor Lipman’s work. Aside from writing the book of the same name, which was adapted as a movie, Lipman has authored over a dozen books and is a compelling fiction writer.

“The things that I like the best about Elinor’s books, for me, is that we live in a world where so many bad things happen every time you look in the newspaper or turn on the TV,” said Dawn Donovan, who organized the annual Friends of the Westwood Public Library author event.

“I feel like her books are well written, they’re clever, they’re intelligent, but they’re hopeful. I really enjoy it. I feel like you can come away with a happy and good feeling when you read her books.”

Although Mameve Medweb was unable to make it to the program to speak with Lipman, as her best friend, Lipman made sure to speak about Medweb’s works and the history and evolution of their friendship.

They first met while completing their undergraduate degrees at Simmons College, and the two were instantly friends, having bonded over their passion for writing. As they advanced in both their degrees and careers, though, they remained friends and supporters of each other’s work.

Lipman discussed four things that influenced or became plot points in her newest novel, “On Turpentine Lane.”

She told the story of a Mrs. Burke, who lived in the “scary” house nearby Lipman’s childhood home in Lowell, Massachusetts. She later learned that Mrs. Burke had a criminal past and that there were many secrets in the family. She incorporated this creepy house into the book.

Lipman was also interested in director of stewardship roles after hearing about such a job. She created the position of Head of Stewardship for Everton Country Day School in the novel.

The third element in her novel was the creation of Stuart, a 40-year-old “lost soul,” who wears a sign that says: “Free hugs. Tell me your story” in both Spanish and English.

She also told the audience that she learned about people who make replica paintings and was fascinated by such a job. That, she told visitors at the library, was the fourth thing in her book that she was inspired to write.

Lipman read a short excerpt from the novel, and also welcomed questions from the audience.

After hearing about Lipman’s newest work and some of her experiences in the world of writing, library patrons were able to purchase Lipman’s books and have them signed.

The program was just one of the many that the Friends of the Westwood Public Library sponsors for both the Main and Islington branches.

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