The Hamptons serve as the backdrop for two new novels.

The Hamptons serve as the backdrop for two new novels. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Summertime, and the living is easy on Long Island's beaches, especially those in the Hamptons and on Fire Island. That is, unless you're one of the characters featured in three novels set in those local vacation hot spots. Deception, drama and disappearances, not to mention bust-ups and breakups — both romantic and platonic — befall the fictional folks inhabiting the Island locales of these books that have beach read written all over them.

Here are three of this summer's most intriguing novels from local authors who found inspiration in their own backyards.

The characters in Becky Chalsen's "Serendipity" share a house in Ocean Beach. Credit: Dutton

BOOK “Serendipity” by Becky Chalsen (Dutton, 352 pp., $17.99)

PLOT Struggling Hollywood screenwriter Maggie Monroe returns to her Long Island roots when her ex-BFF invites her to spend part of her summer on Ocean Beach. Maggie hopes to repair relationships with both her friend and her ex, but things don't go exactly as planned.

BACKSTORY Chalsen set last year's “Kismet” on Fire Island and thought it would also be a serendipitous locale for her follow-up. “I’ve always admired how Fire Island is comprised of 17 different towns, all with their own distinct personalities, so I wanted to feature a different town for my second book.”

Ocean Beach was the obvious choice, and she modeled the titular beach house after the Bamboo House, a summer rental in the town that she shared with a group of friends in 2018. Chalsen said she was inspired by her fond memories of that summer as well as “research trips” to The Sand Bar (for Rocket Fuels) and Town Pizza during the writing process. “I wanted to pay homage to the Ocean Beach share house experience, that feeling of coming to Fire Island with fresh renter eyes and getting to explore the magic for the first time,” she said.

The lives of Hamptonites from different social classes cross in “All in the Summers in Between” by Brooke Lea Foster. Credit: Gallery Books

BOOK “All the Summers in Between” by Brooke Lea Foster (Gallery Books, 320 pp., $28.99)

PLOT In the summer of '67, two girls from different social strata become inseparable until a terrible incident destroys their fast friendship. When they reconnect 10 years later, uncertainty, secrets and danger abound.

BACKSTORY Foster grew up on eastern Long Island and her family spent many a summer in Montauk. While working there as a nanny and “watching the summer crowd in their loafers and designer bags,” Foster said she became fascinated with “the dynamics between the haves and have nots.”

“I thought it would be interesting to center a book around two friends who met in the Hamptons in the summer of 1967. One is a wealthy city girl whose parents are in media, and the other is a local, hardscrabble girl whose father is a plumber. The Hamptons are interesting in that way,” she said.

The setting also holds special summer memories for Foster, who recalled ogling surfers at Ditch Plains, meeting feminist Betty Friedan at a party in Bridgehampton and lounging in beach chairs with her family at Gin Beach. “I wanted my characters to have a terrible secret, and I wanted the landscape to play a part in what tore them apart,” Foster said. “That is why their friendship breaks apart on a boat in Gardiners Bay. Drama happens everywhere in the Hamptons all summer long.”

A woman searches the Hamptons for her missing sibling in Stephanie DeCarolis' "The Perfect Sister." Credit: Bantam

BOOK “The Perfect Sister” by Stephanie DeCarolis (Bantam, 368 pp., $17.99).

PLOT Alex Walker becomes concerned when her “perfect sister,” Maddie, disappears. Her investigation leads Alex to the Hamptons and the home of the wealthy Blackwell family — the last ones to see Maddie.

BACKSTORY As a child, DeCarolis vacationed in Montauk, though her East End memories were more pleasant than those of the characters. “Eating hand-churned ice cream, flying kites on the beach at night, exploring the little shops with my mom. It was a very special tradition to our family, and it’s one that my husband and I now continue with our own children,” she said.

One of those recent trips inspired the setting for “The Perfect Sister,” which comes out July 16. “As we were driving through the Hamptons, admiring all of the beautiful properties sealed behind their big gates, I started to think it would be the perfect place for a thriller. What secrets might be hiding behind those closed doors?” DeCarolis said.

While the book's locations are fictional, most were inspired by real places, she adds: “I wanted readers to be able to feel like they were there, right alongside the characters, and feel the atmosphere of the setting, even if they’d never been to the Hamptons before.”

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