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The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (And Their Muses)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  591 ratings  ·  152 reviews
A whimsical, moving novel about a retirement home for literary legends who spar, conjure up new stories, and almost magically change the lives of the people around them

Alfonse Carducci was a literary giant who lived his life to excess—lovers, alcohol, parties, and literary rivalries. But now he’s come to the Bar Harbor Home for the Elderly to spend the remainder of his day
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 12th 2018 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Karin Gastreich
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
DeFino's latest novel chronicles the final days of Alfonse Carducci, literary great who joins old friends and colleagues at the Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers. The idea alone would be enough to carry this novel, but DeFino gives us so much more. While Alfonse fancies himself center stage, it is his caretaker Cecibel who captures our hearts, leading the reader through an unforgettable journey of healing and redemption. There is so much to love about this book, I can't possibly cove ...more
Colleen Fauchelle
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-books
A book about books and authors tick
about the elderly tick
a story within a story tick
a story about aceptence no matter what you look like on the outside tick
a bit of same love sure
a love story in its many forms tick

I really enjoyed this story.
Kate Olson
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for this free review copy!

This one took a bit for me to get into, but once I got sucked in, I was IN. The story within a story was fascinating to me, and I got majorly invested in the embedded drama/romance the group of retired writers were working on together. And then I got super interested in whether the story would ever get finished and if it would ever get published......and so on and so forth. Probably the part I was least invested in was that of the employees of t
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! A strong 4.5. There is a place in Bar Harbor where authors and literary giants go to live out out their final days. Cecibel is an orderly who is disfigured from a horrible accident. When Alfonse comes to stay he finds himself drawn to this young woman and their lives begin to intertwine and a new book is started. I don’t believe in revealing the entire plot so I will end here. This book was so unexpectedly good, the characters are well developed and kept me turning pages!
leslie hamod
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only requirement for admission is that you must be a literary giant. Alphonse Carducci is one! Although he has been indulging in alcohol and women. Chasing greatness at the cost of love.Now he finds himself questioning his life of parties and women. He evaluates the wisdom of appeasing his desires, forsaking love for greatness.
Nurse Cecebel knows the cost off excess. It has ruined her face and she tries to forget her sister. She cannot forgive herself.
But Alphonse finds in her a muse, she aw
Lynn Pribus
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not very generous with 5 ***** but I haven't given any in a long time and this engaging book just tickled me. It was sad, sweet, sensual, amusing... I could go on. It's one of these stories within a story, being developed by some famous writers very near their lifes' ends.

(Is that the correct place for the apostrophe? There are several lives involved here. Or should it be lives' ends?)

Anyway, set in a posh Maine mansion restored by a now-deceased writer who was mentor and lover of a younger
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loved Whisper Beach by Shelley Noble
There are some novels that as you begin reading draw you in to a special world created by the author. In this case, the reader will reside for a time at The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers in Bar Harbor, Maine. The setting is all the more captivating for those of us who have had the delight of visiting and experiencing Bar Harbor, Maine. The reader will be introduced to literary greats that are now in various stages of ill health. The reader will also be introduced to some of their ...more
Stories within stories, what one might expect from a collection of authors from the days of Parker and Salinger, all now spending their last days at The Pen, a grand house reclaimed and repurposed by a former agent, known to them all: providing a safe place for all who enter. From residents to live-in staff, each of the characters we meet in this story finds purpose, hope and even insights during their stay.

What emerges are several ‘key’ stories for each person we meet: from Olivia’s abusive ma
Sharon Struth
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written and clever story that blurs the edges of love, beauty, and aging while giving the reader a story within a story. Several residents at the Bar Harbor Retirement home for famous writers embark on a journey to write one last book...together. And it all begins when the newest arrival at the home, Alfonse Carducci, finds himself inspired by a orderly who works at the home, the beautiful Cecibel, who lives with scars--both inside and out--from her past.

In this novel writing jour
Once a giant of the literary world, ailing author Alfonse Carducci spends his final days in a retirement home, recalling his storied past as he tries to put pen to paper one last time.

Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A humorous and heart breaking story, full of quirky characters and a beautiful setting I fell in love with. I didn't want it to end. Ms DeFino is a gifted writer and I want to read more of her books.

From Amazon:
A whimsical, moving novel about a retirement home for literary legends who spar, conjure up new stories, and almost magically change the lives of the people around them.

Alfonse Carducci was a literary giant who lived his life to excess—lovers, alcohol, parties, and literary rivalries.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
The refurbished mansion is now home to individuals who once had their hands in publishing. From writers to editors, the rooms are now filled with individuals who have gathered together to finish out their remaining years. Working as an orderly, Cecibel enjoys hiding amongst the famous wards, for they don’t ask many personal questions and she’s able to go about her work, unnoticed.

Alfonse will be arriving soon to fill a vacancy and his arrival is causing quite a stir, especially with Ce
Kathy McC
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For most of this novel, I was ready to give it 5 stars. But, then, for awhile, it became a romance novel and the stars lost some luster. But, by the end, all was right again.
The premise of this book is unlike any other I have read. DeFino's ability to tell two stories simultaneously is remarkable.
This is a story about life-long friends and new friendships. It is about the power of love, and the hopes for redemption. The characters are multi-layered, and the layers fall away gradually, allowin
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
I got this book from LibraryThing's Early Review program, in exchange for an honest review. I picked this book solely for the title. I wasn't sure what to expect, maybe an alternate universe sci-fi thing, but it turned out to be a very quaint romantic comedy. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it.

Set in a fancy country house turned into an assisted living facility on the coast in Maine where the elderly giants of the literary world come to live out their last days. Alfonse Carducci was one
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Thanks to Wm. Morrow for the book mail. Just showed up one day. I thought the plot seemed interesting reading so was happy I received it.

Sorry to say, I couldn't finish this book. I wanted to since it's about writing and past authors, publishers, editors in a retirement home. I thought the characters would be interesting but they were not. The book focused on many characters but mostly on Cecibel (couldn't get that name wrapped around my tongue) and her muse Alfonso. He was the greatest author i
Scottsdale Public Library
A charming novel with a story within a story. The Bar Harbor Retirement home is a place where formerly famouse writers and editors can go to live out their days. There are lovers past and present, friends, co-workers and what might be termed misfits. At the end of life for some, a group of people come together to find new purpose for their time. This random bunch find a purpose and form a family while creating a new literary story. The charaters were wonderful and the story within kept me enthra ...more
Steve Majerus-Collins
I admit that the title is the reason I bothered to give this novel a shot. After all, I like both Bar Harbor and writers, though retirement seems a distant option at best. Still, it pulled me in. And I'm glad. There's a lot going on in this book, many layers of characters, time and insight. That it all holds together and flows into a single stream says something of the skill that Terri-Lynne DeFino brings to the task. In the end, I didn't find it all that compelling. It didn't stir me. I just fo ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I basically devoured this audiobook. Excellent narration! I found myself sneaking in minutes whenever I could because I had to know how it was going to end! Absolutely loved it.

I enjoyed the depth of the characters. I really did feel like each of the authors in the Pen lived full and interesting lives that made them into the colorful elderly people we get to know. They felt real to me and I truly wanted them to finish their last story together.
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poignant, engaging. Author has crafted characters and a story that will draw readers in. Fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will find much to enjoy here.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a story within a story and you have to keep up! I enjoyed the writing style, multiple characters, plot twists and would highly recommend this book.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2018
Terri-Lynne DeFino's "The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (And Their Muses) is one of the most captivating and intriguing books I've read this year.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book immensely. I am finding little time to read lately, so I was grateful that when I did squeeze in some reading time, I found myself curled up with this book. The thought of a regal and exclusive place where the best of the writing world could live out their lives in comfort and elegance was appealing…as were the characters.

The central characters of Alfonse (with his past of excess) and Cecibel (with her past of pain and regret and sorrow) are rounded out with a true cast of ch
Debbie Christiana
Oh, if such a home truly existed! But it does. All you have to do is open the pages of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Authors (and their Muses) and you'll be whisked off to a wonderful place. You'll meet Alfonse Carducci, an author famous for his works as well as an over indulgent lifestyle, who now must face the end of his colorful life. His character jumps off the page and into your heart. To hear his stories from his childhood in Italy, through his journey to fame and now, to deali ...more
Terri-Lynne DeFino
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Maybe I'm a little biased? ;)
Allen Adams
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

There’s a big difference between literary fame and literary greatness.

There are plenty of writers who are great without being famous and more than a few who are famous without being great. A very specific confluence of circumstances is required for an author to achieve both. But even the greatest, most famous writers come to the end of their story.

Terri-Lynne DeFino’s novel “The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses)” takes a specu
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have a few blogger friends who refuse to read or preemptively dislike books with long titles and subtitles so they would not even pick up The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses), which would be a shame because it is an engaging and enjoyable book. It also has a story or book inside the book so maybe it gets a pass on the long title since it's two stories in one. ;-)

The retirement home, called the "Pen" by its staff in residents was set up by Alfonse Carducci's mento
Christopher Gerrib
Full disclosure - I know Terri-Lynne, the author, personally, which is why I bought this book. Literary fiction is something I read only occasionally. However, this book really grabbed me.

The bulk of the story is set in the summer of 1999, when a famous and dying writer, Alfonse Carducci, shows up at the retirement home, nicknamed the Pen. He's a Hemingway-ese writer with the personal drama to match, but now he's too sick to do much more than sit and think. He also hasn't written anything more s
The Short of It:

I’m a sucker for stories about writers.

The Rest of It:

The Bar Harbor Retirement Home is home to a group of retired writers and what a group they are! Some have had relationships with one another, others have collaborated with each other, and some are still collaborating as they live out their final days.

What makes this story entertaining is that there is a story within a story as Alfonse Carducci, writes what could be his final story, and this new work of his is inspired by his c
Georgianne Georgiadis
All of us do not want to think about our final days. We know we want to be around friends who are like us and get us. We get to follow the final days of a select group of famous writers. Alfonse Carducci who loved to party, drink and had his loves. But it all caught up to him. Olivia Peppernell who would sneak outside with Cecibel Bringer to smoke the joint that is the only thing that will ease her pain.
Cecibel the young aide for both of them who has her own demons, she was disfigured in a car a
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book as our November book club selection. As someone who has been to Bar Harbor, I was interested in how the author would describe the setting hoping it would jar my memory of my time there. No such luck. It was a wonderful story of character development and a story within a story set 50 years in the past. I enjoyed the book and how the characters evolved. I guess I was a little dissatisfied with how it ended but it really could have gone both ways. They even mentioned that.
Worth a re
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Terri-Lynne DeFino was born and raised in New Jersey, but escaped to the wilds of Connecticut back in the nineties when her kids were babies and everyone wore flannel. She still lives in rural New England with her cats and husband, spending her days exorcising the people and places living inside her head.
“A book is like a woman. She should leave your bed with her hair tangled and her clothes on backward. A book without creases is a book that has never known passion.” 1 likes
“There are many yesterdays. With any luck, many tomorrows. But there's only one today. Don't fuck it up.” 1 likes
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