top of page

Crossing the Bar Road

96,000 words - Currently in search of an agent


Penelope Singer returns to her family’s summer house in the Canadian Maritimes following her mother’s death not sure she wants to carry on with owning the house. St. Andrews has always been important to her, especially her relationship to her friends: two other summer visitors, Jack
and Lucien, Charlie, a local boy they grew up with who becomes her first love and the tempestuous Ada, daughter of Penelope’s mother’s childhood best friend. But betrayals by Ada have put those friendships in jeopardy. She becomes Jack’s girlfriend and then marries him on the lawn on the house Penelope grew up going to, does her best to derail Penelope’s relationship with Charlie and finally pursues an affair with Lucien just at the moment Penelope and he have begun a real relationship.

With the help of Charlie, now a local contractor, Penelope is able to re-evaluate. She assumes responsibility for saving her parents’ house from decay, and reconnects to her mother by helping her father, reading through her mother’s journals and making her pie recipes. Adventures along
the way in the novel include a bitterly contested tennis tournament, a fateful fourth of July incident involving drugs and alcohol and a car stalled out on a tidal road, and teenage sex in an abandoned hunting cabin. But the sexiest scene of all is at the end of the novel when Penelope and Charlie finally consummate their relationship on the floor of what was once his old bedroom in the house Penelope grew up coming to, now under renovation. Afterwards, Penelope finds herself free to focus on a future connection, no longer limited by her past.

In writing Crossing the Bar Road, I was inspired by “To the Lighthouse,” by Virginia Woolf (there is even a small tribute to that book in the form of the mention of a local diner named The Lighthouse) and the experience of returning year after year to a summer house like the one in the novel, which I now own. My book is a cross between a book about houses, like Barbara Kingsolver’s “Unsheltered”; “The Big House,” by George Howe Colt; Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes or even “They Left Us Everything,” by Plum Johnson and a book about grief in the manner of “The Year of Magical Thinking,” by Joan Didion, “The Friend,” by Sigrid Nunez, and Roland Barthe’s “Mourning Diary.” The novel has been workshopped in Elizabeth Gaffney’s A Public Space Novel Workshop and Martha Hughes’ Peripatetic Writing Workshop.

bottom of page