Books

'It Happens in the Hamptons' Will Be Your Juicy Summer Beach Read

Writer Holly Peterson describes it as "Downton Abbey in bikinis."
Comments

In her latest novel It Happens in the Hamptons, writer Holly Peterson tells the story of a West Coast transplant who discovers that life in the East End might not be all that it seems.

You write about the clash between new money interlopers and locals in the Hamptons, but this could have taken place elsewhere, couldn't it?

The clash between a local population and the people who invade their community for the summer is rife with the class conflicts roiling the country today. I tried to write something intensely current: Downton Abbey in bikinis. The novel is about the outer tip of Long Island, but it could be a resort community anywhere—the mountains, a lake, the coasts such as Aspen, Nantucket, Lake Minnetonka or Amelia Island. Anywhere people use “summer” as a verb, there is tension with the normal people who actually live in one home year-round. The ante is doubled when these groups become friends, or try to, and have illicit attractions, which always go haywire.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW


People assume the behavior of the 1% is outrageous, but it's worse, isn't it?

As a reporter and a novelist I write what I call “journalistic fiction,” which means I never write anything that wouldn’t happen in real life--and yes, the behavior of people who own $40 million dollar mansions as a second home is outrageous. In Southampton town, I witness people with AmEx black cards as thick as two-by-fours (meaning a $500k+ credit line) demand 20% discounts in the local surf shops. People take $600 Uber-style helicopter rides as if they were actually Uber. People throw $200,000 cocktails parties to “celebrate the season.” The woman in the beginning of my book buys a dozen $800 cruiser bikes in matching cantaloupe color because she wants her houseguests to match as they ride to the beach at sunset. Women all over Southampton do that as a little décor whim midday on a Saturday as they are picking up a $65 candle in town.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW


How tense is it on the local side? Do you ever feel like averting your eyes when you see how bad it looks from their point of view?

I try to avoid caricatures, and the locals aren’t angels. Some of them cozy up to the summer people for prestige or access, just as you see loser hedge fund dads trying to act cool with the local surfer crew. Many of those mega-money guys are self-made and had police officers as dads growing up. Even though they are worth half a billion dollars now, they think they know what “real life” is like and can relate to “normal” people in the 99%. That kind of inauthentic mingling is a novelist’s lifeblood.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

Comments
View More Articles About:
About The Author
Ben Ryder Howe
View Other Articles From Ben Ryder Howe
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
The Duchess was used to a certain level of fame as an actress, but royal life has brought a new set of challenges.
 
Share
 
Share
With the demand for luxury goods currently exploding in China, the mogul has now become the third-ever centibillionaire in history.
 
Share
His infamous Upper East Side mansion is just one of the properties in the disgraced financier's vast real estate portfolio, and each of them seems to have a creepy story.
 
Share
The viral app is raising some very important questions on privacy.
 
Share
Through Frances Valentine, the label Kate founded three years ago, her friends have vowed to keep her spirit-and aesthetic-alive.
 
Share
Is this a frou-frou spot? No, it isn’t. Is it worth it? Yes, start easy.
 
Share
The 109-lot auction is expected to fetch a tidy sum, given the stunning items on the block.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US