Are you looking to add a book to your TBR that will transport you to a cozy, New England town? Do you dream of sandy spits, salty breeze, and the charm of a wealthy, multi-generational coastal haven? Is your favorite song “the last great American dynasty” from Taylor Swift’s folklore? Or maybe you wish you could be on the guest list to one of Swift’s notorious, star-studded 4th of July parties?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, this is the ultimate book list for you!
The books listed below are all set in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Watch Hill, Rhode Island is a historic New England coastal village that is steeped in tradition, affluence, and American values. Just a two hour drive from Boston or three hours from New York City, Watch Hill is located at the most southwestern tip of Rhode Island and is characterized by gorgeous sunsets, rocky seashores, and old money.
The bluff after which the town is named was used as a lookout point during the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Watch Hill became an idyllic summer resort for a number of families— many traveling via train from places like St. Louis and Detroit.
Today, upon Watch Hill’s highest peak, sits the legendary Holiday House— a multi-million dollar mansion that once belonged to Rebekah Harkness (who married into the Standard Oil fortune) and now belongs to singer/songwriter Taylor Swift.
Watch Hill’s geography, culture, and notable residents make it the perfect setting for any type of novel. Many authors, including myself, have been inspired by the history, tradition, and all-American nature of this timeless New England coastal village.
Books Set in Watch Hill
Lucky by Kristina Parro
If you are a Taylor Swift fan (especially any folklore lovers), interested in the Golden Ratio, love mythology and philosophy, or enjoy unique, genre-bending fiction, Lucky is a book you need to check out!
Lucky is a story unlike any other… a fairytale of modern times. Inspired by 2020 Album of the Year, folklore, Lucky weaves together the stories of two powerful women: Rebekah Harkness— notorious, scandalous heiress of the Standard Oil Fortune— and Rhea (Rae) Harmonía— America’s favorite pop-star. Both women become rich beyond their wildest dreams… but soon come to a harrowing realization. It may be that only the pursuit of happiness is fun. Once the dream comes true, life seems to become a nightmare.
Bonus: This book is my debut novel! There is a ton of content on this blog that talks more about Lucky.
Finding Mrs. Ford by Deborah Goodrich Royce
If you are looking for a lyrical, thought provoking thriller, Finding Mrs. Ford by Deborah Goodrich Royce is the book for you. Susan Ford lives an idyllic life, splitting her time between New York City and Watch Hill, Rhode Island. She seems like the type of woman who keeps her life— and everything that is part of it— under control. Until one morning, in the summer of 2014, when the FBI pays her a visit… and Susan is forced to revisit the summer of 1979. A summer where everything changed.
Bonus: Finding Mrs. Ford was written by Deborah Goodrich Royce who lives in Watch Hill. There, she and her husband restored the iconic Ocean House hotel. Deborah also played Silver Kane on the hit ABC soap opera, All My Children. You can check out a conversation I had with Deborah on Instagram LIVE!
Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg
If you are looking for a poignant family saga full of generational wisdom, Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg’s Eden needs to rocket to the top of your TBR. Eden is set in Long Harbor— a fictional Watch Hill, RI— a town packed with wealth and tradition. But as with everything, for families summering in this coastal village, there is always another side to the coin. In Eden, secrets are revealed, stories are shared, and lives change with the times. Join Becca Meister Fitzpatrick, a wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community, for what might be her last summer in Long Harbor… as she struggles with the discovery that her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg.
Bonus: Eden’s author, Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, also has a home in Watch Hill! She is an amazingly inspiring author and thought leader in independent literature. You can check out the conversation I had with Jeanne on Instagram LIVE!
The Summer House by Hannah McKinnon
From the book’s description on Amazon: “When Flossy Merrill summons her children to the beloved family beach house to celebrate their father’s eightieth birthday, both cherished memories and long-kept secrets come to light in this charming and lyrical novel from the author of The Lake Season and Mystic Summer.
Flossy Merrill has managed to—somewhat begrudgingly—gather her three ungrateful grown children from their dysfunctional lives for a summer reunion at the family’s Rhode Island beach house. With her family finally congregated under one seaside roof, Flossy is determined to steer her family back on course even as she prepares to reveal the fate of the summer house that everyone has thus far taken for granted: she’s selling it. The Merrill children are both shocked and outraged and each returns to memories of their childhoods at their once beloved summer house—the house where they have not only grown up, but from which they have grown away. Featuring McKinnon’s “sharp and evocative” (Kirkus Reviews) voice, this warm-hearted novel is perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe.”
Blue Blood by Craig Unger
If you love narrative non-fiction (and can manage to get your hands on a copy of this rare book), Blue Blood by Craig Unger is for you. Blue Blood is actually a primary source I used for my debut novel, Lucky. This book chronicles the life of Rebekah Harkness, heiress to the Standard Oil fortune and star of Taylor Swift’s song “ the last great American dynasty,” and includes her scandalous history with Joffrey’s ballet.
Other Art inspired by Watch Hill
Florida based artist Mary LaGarde has also used Watch Hill as inspiration for her art. Her painting, A Marvelous Time, is inspired by Taylor Swift’s folklore and the last great American dynasty. You can find her painting (and prints!) here: A Marvelous Time.
Bonus: check out the transcript from the conversation Mary and I had about her painting and my book here: A Marvelous Conversation with Mary LaGarde
Thank you to Mary LaGarde (and her husband, Richard) for providing some of the photos used in this blog post.
Have you read any of these books? Comment below and let me know what you think.
Also, feel free to send me an email if I have missed any Watch Hill inspired reads. I want this to be an all-encompassing list!
Note: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you click any of the above links and purchase the listed books, I will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support.