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Fiction Set in RI (by town name) (redirected from Fiction Set in RI (by town name)

Page history last edited by Corrie M. 10 years, 1 month ago
Set in … Rhode Island
Selected 20th & 21st Century Fiction
     This bibliography is a partial listing. Only titles that are readily available through the Ocean State Libraries system have been included. All books on this list have been written since 1900.
Block Island
Nasty BreaksCharlotte & Aaron Elkins. (1997)
   Lee Ofsted, a young pro golfer detective, winds up on the Block where she plays golf, enjoys the scenery and solves a kidnapping/murder.
She’s Not There. Mary-Ann Tirone Smith. (2003)
   Second in a series featuring a woman FBI agent who in this volume is vacationing on Block Island when a serial killer of teen girls strikes. The mystery is linked to the historic Palantine wreck.
The Passions of EmmaPenelope Williamson. (1997)
   Bristol in the 1890s is the setting for this novel of romantic fiction. That old, old story,
boy meets girl, boy marries girl, she dies. Then he marries her friend.
Rogue’s Wager. Thomas Briody. (1997)
   When a quahogger ignites dynamite in Stillhouse Cove, murder, fraud and violence follow in one of Briody’s Michael Carolina mysteries.
East Providence
The Memory of Running. Ron McLarty. (2004)
   East Providence is the starting place and reference point for this fine novel of overweight loser Smithy Ide whose life changes dramatically in the course of a week when he loses his family and begins a bike ride across first RI, then America, on his way to California.
Traveler. Ron McLarty. (2007)
   Jono, a NY bartender, returns to East Providence when he learns that his childhood sweetheart has died from a bullet wound received 40 years earlier. Can he discover who fired that shot so many years ago?
Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn. Paul Watkins. (1989)
Watkins successfully conveyed a brutal description of life on a fishing vessel and of the unbelievable difficulty of trying to earn a living through commercial fishing.
Spartina. John Casey. (1989) 
   The story of a contemporary fisherman fighting desperately to make a living at sea but slowly losing the battle.
Compass Rose. John Casey. (2010)
     Follow up to Spartina. Natural Resources warden Elsie Buttrick is forced to grapple with the fallout from her affair with Rhode Island fisherman Dick Pierce.
Narragansett Indian Tribe
The Rain from God. Mark Ammerman. (1997)
   A novel set in the time of Roger Williams and based on the historical relationship between the Narragansetts and Christianity.
Dusk at the Grove. Samuel Rogers. (1934)
   A family’s life together is revealed over a series of years in relation to their aging home in Newport.
Ask No Quarter. George Marsh. (1945)
   Ask No Quarter is well-written historical fiction about the Colony of Rhode Island from the time of the Great Swamp Fight to the late 17th century days of Newport privateers.
My New Found Land.  Dean Brelis. (1963)
   Depression-era, working class Newport is the setting for this brief but complex novel about a young Greek immigrant’s emergence into adulthood on the eve of FDR’s first presidential win.
Strange Wives. Shirley Barker. (1963)
   Historical fiction about the building of Touro Synagogue and the development of Newport’s Jewish community.
Dragon Cove. Carter A. Vaughan. (1964)
   A well written piece of historical fiction set during the Revolution in British-occupied Newport. (The author also writes as Noel Gerson.)
Theophilus North. Thornton Wilder. (1973)
   The title character spends a summer in Newport in 1926, teaching tennis and solving problems for Newporters among many levels of society.
Spindrift. Phyllis Whitney. (1975)
   A standard Whitney romantic suspense novel set in the requisite ominous mansion that, in this case, is located in Newport.
Strange Bedfellow. Janet Dailey.   (1979)
   A missing husband returns and complicates his wife’s new life in the City by the Sea.
Ariabella, the First. Nina Straight. (1981)
   A confusing story about a young woman who returns to her childhood home before it is turned into a tourist attraction. Newport is called Seaport in this book. The author, Nina Auchincloss Straight, is stepsister to Jackie Kennedy.
Spies.  Richard Sapir. (1984)
   An espionage packet of coded data found 40 years after World War II implicates a respectable Newport citizen in Nazi war crimes. The sunken German submarine off the R.I. coast inspired this novel.
Murder on the Cliff. Stefanie Matteson. (1991)
   Well-written mystery starring an older actress Charlotte Graham with Newport and the Black Ships Festival as a setting.
   A young woman whose wealthy relatives are part of The Four Hundred solves a murder with the help of a local police officer.
Moonlight Becomes You. Mary Higgins Clark. (1996)
   A romantic thriller set in contemporary Newport.
Siren’s Lullaby. William Kennedy. (1997)
   A suspense thriller set among the yacht builders and racers in present day Newport and Bermuda.
Rogue’s Regatta. Thomas Briody. (1999)
   Most of this Michael Carolina mystery takes place in Newport where the yacht-racing son of a wealthy resident is found murdered.
 Mansions of the Dead. Sarah Stewart Taylor. (2004)
   This is the second of an excellent recent detective series featuring art history professor Sweeney St. George. While the action centers on Cambridge, this volume has lots of Newport in it since the student/victim was a member of a rich family with a summer house there.
Hide Yourself Away. Mary Jane Clark. (2004)
   Set in Newport, this thriller follows the fate of a young TV news intern after a body is found in a slave tunnel on the grounds of a mysterious mansion.
The Gods of Newport. John Jakes. (2006)
   The details of Gilded Age Newport are enjoyable though the plot-wealthy social climber bent on thrusting his unwilling daughter into the upper crust-has been done before.
North Kingstown
Double LivesJane Barnes. (1981)
   A slow moving novel about the a CIA agent whose career has been ruined and his troubled family during a summer in what alleges to be the Saunderstown area.
The Catherine. Robert S. MacDonald. (1982) 
   Historical fiction set around the time of the Civil War about the shipbuilding Saunders and their involvement in Union war activities. Continued in The Rachel Victoria (1983)
The Witches of Eastwick. John Updike. (1984)
   Set in a community supposedly based on Wickford, this is a tale of three women who believe that they have witch-like powers & a disturbing stranger who moves to town.  
The Widows of Eastwick. John Updike. (2008)
      Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie return to the old Rhode Island seaside town where they indulged in wicked mischief under the influence of the diabolical Darryl Van Horne. How they cope with the lingering traces of their evil deeds, the shocks of a mysterious counterspell, and the advancing inroads of old age are at the heart of Updike's delightful, ominous sequel.
North Providence  
Italian Lessons. Peter Pezzelli. (2007)
   Recent college graduate & Rugby player Carter Quinn returns home to North Providence for the summer & persuades a RIC professor to give him Italian lessons so he can pursue the girl of his dreams in Italy. The unlikely friendship between the haunted scholar & the young athlete is the core of this novel. Frequent mentions of RI localities help set the stage before the action moves to Italy.
Outside Providence. Peter Farrelly. (1988) 
   A coming of age story about a boy and his father.
Murfy’s Men. Gerald Green. (1981)
   This work of historical fiction focuses on the Black Regiment and the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778.
Mill Stream. Hortense Lion. (1941)
   Enjoyable historical fiction set in 1788 telling of the development of textile industry in the state. It moves to Pawtucket as well with Samuel Slater playing a leading role.
The Golden Mistress. Basil Beyea. (1975)
   Eighteenth century Providence is featured in this book about the scandalous Eliza Bowen Jumel, second wife of Aaron Burr. This volume features her early life as a Providence prostitute. A sequel, Notorious Eliza (1978), follows her career in New York and Europe.
The Family. David Plante. (1978)
   Set in a French-Canadian neighborhood in Providence, this novel examines the life of the Francoeur family in the 1950s. The depiction of the Catholic Church and the mill working environment is very realistic. The story of the Francoeurs continues in Country (1981) and The Woods (1982).
Ceremony. Robert Parker. (1982)
   Spenser, Parker’s popular detective, pursues a runaway teen through some of Providence’s sleaziest areas.
Informed Consent. Neil Ravin. (1983)
   A somewhat complicated story written by a physician, this work is set at fictional University Hospital in Providence. Includes some pleasant cuts of Thayer Street.
Airs of Providence. Jean McGarry. (1985)
   Award-winning collection of short stories is set in a working-class Irish neighborhood within the capital city.
Providence. Geoffrey Wolff. (1986)
   A well-written novel of crime and corruption that twists through different levels of Providence society.
Heart of the Night. Barbara Delinsky. (1989)
   Providence and Newport are the backdrops for this typical Delinsky romance novel. If you can believe a bright, beautiful, successful D. A. falls in love with a unknown disc-jockey because of his voice, you’ll enjoy this book.
Rogue’s Isles. Thomas Briody. (1995)
   A rapid-fire mystery about the craziness that happens when a Federal Hill savings and loan fails.
Rogue’s Justice. Thomas Briody. (1996)
   A sequel to Rogue’s Isles set among the political and judicial arenas in Providence. There is a very nice description of a quick visit to Beavertail, as well.
The Survivor’s Club. Lisa Gardner. (2002)
   A fast-moving thriller set amongst the legal profession and the East Side crowd of Providence in which three women, victims of the College Hill rapist, fall under suspicion when the nasty perp is murdered at the Court House.
Shadows in the Darkness. Elaine Cunningham. (2004)
  Part science-fiction-fantasy/part thriller, Shadows takes place in Providence and features an ex-cop who is also an elf. Her supernatural abilities allow her to solve crimes but it’s not as much fun as it sounds. Sequel is Shadows in the Starlight (2006).
This Room Is Yours. Michael Stein. (2004)
   As his mother develops dementia, the narrator reluctantly moves her to a nursing home near him in Providence. This novel resonates with the shifting family dynamics between adult children and their parents.
A Confidential Source. Jan Brogan. (2005)
   Set in Providence with many authentic touches, this thriller features a young woman reporter who witnesses a shooting while food shopping at Wayland Square. Lots of great local details.
Every Sunday. Peter Pezzelli. (2005)
   A Providence hardware store is the center for this tale of a loving Italian family whose father’s sudden death catapults them into new decisions and life choices. Pezzelli has also written Home to Italy (2004) which begins in Providence and Francesca’s Kitchen (2006) also set in the capital city.
Gravewriter. Mark Arsenault. (2006)
   Aresnault, a Providence Journal reporter, provides a well-written mystery with detailed Providence settings. The book stars a former investigative reporter whose tour of jury duty suggests something highly suspicious to him.
A Killing on Church Grounds. Barbara Cummings. (2006)
   A lively, funny yarn set during the Great Depression about young Sister Agnes of a religious order apparently in Providence, with numerous RI references from Buttonwoods to Exeter. Agnes is chronically in trouble with her Reverend Mother and things get worse when she discovers a body in the convent.
Avery’s Knot. Mary Cable. (1981)
   Historical crime fiction about a sensational murder case from 1832 in which a clergyman was tried and acquitted of the murder of a young pregnant woman.
The Tragedy at TivertonRaymond Paul. (1984)
   Paul has written a novel on the same subject as the previous title but produces his own fictional solution to the mystery.  Early 19th century Bristol/Tiverton areas are well portrayed.
West Warwick
The Properties of Water. Ann Hood. (1995)
   This story of a disintegrating marriage and the family that it impacts is set near the Royal Mills in West Warwick, called East Essex in this work.
The Summer They Came. William Storandt. (2002)
   Set in Watch Hill, the plot of this tale revolves around what happens when an influx of gay men upset the established order in a small town. While Watch Hill itself is never mentioned, the yellow Ocean House, the carousel, the nearby casinos and Westerly are named.  Storandt has a good time with both ostentatiously gay lifestyles and small town attitudes.
Rhode Island - No Specific Town, Generic or Imaginary Town.
February Hill. Victoria Lincoln. (1934)   
   The story of a down and out family living a cheerful, borderline existence in the Bristol and Newport County areas. Glimpses of factory life and rum running help set the time and place.
Celia Amberley. Victoria Lincoln. (1949)
   A coming of age story about a young girl from an upper-class family, this novel uses several locations but most of it is set in the Aquidneck Island area.
Diligence in Love. Daisy Newman. (1951)
   An old-fashioned, pleasant tale of a New York City family who transplant themselves to a community of Rhode Island Quakers. The setting is Kendal, a fictitious village based on Westerly: the author was close to the group of Friends in Westerly. There are also three sequels about life in Kendal, The Autumn’s Brightness (1954), I Take Thee, Serenity (1975) & Indian Summer of the Heart (1982).
The Human Shore. Harvena Richter. (1959)
   A novel set in what seems to be Watch Hill, The Human Shore is the tale of an isolated woman who seeks refuge in the family home as her marriage disintegrates.
Earthsound. Arthur Herzog. (1975)
   A fictional coastal community in Rhode Island is the setting for a farfetched tale of an earthquake and some sinister villagers.
Keepers. Russell Greenan. (1978)
   Oddball suspense novel of a demented man whose powerful politician brother keeps him incarcerated on an island off the Rhode Island coast.
Strangers. Michael de Guzman. (1979)
   The story of an estranged mother and daughter, Strangers is set in Middleport, RI which bears many similarities to Wickford where the author spent much of his youth. An island off Middleport is the setting for another book by the author, The King & Queen of Moonlight Bay (1982).
Blue Moon. Luanne Rice. (1993)
   Set in a town called Mount Hope which is supposedly a composite of Bristol, Newport and Galilee, this book focuses on a marriage that faces problems as the parents deal with a deaf child. 
She’s Come Undone. Wally Lamb.(1996)
   In the early part of this female coming of age novel, the unfortunate main character, Dolores, moves to the urban environment of Easterly, RI to live with her grandmother.
The Snitch.   Robert Leuci. (1997)
   The Snitch, like Robert Leuci’s other novels, takes place in New York. However, his detective goes to South County for fishing and inspiration. Leuci, now a South County resident, offers pleasing glimpses of the Wakefield-Wickford-Galilee area.
Ruby. Ann Hood. (1997)
   A young widow takes in a pregnant runaway teen hoping to adopt her baby. Set at the beach house apparently somewhere in South County since the husband was killed jogging on Rte. 1A.
Rhode Island Blues. Fay Weldon. (2000)
   The main characters in this novel are a grandmother/granddaughter duo who wind up in RI when grandmother Felicity chooses an upscale nursing home in which to spend the rest of her life. It seems to be located somewhere between the RI/CT border and Wakefield.
The Vineyard. Barbara Delinsky. (2000)
   This romance is set at a vineyard in the imaginary Asquonset, RI where a young woman is hired to help its elderly owner organize her papers and, consequentially, her family. Asquonset bears strong similarities to the Sakonnet area.
The Secret Ingredient Murders. Nancy Pickard. (2001)
   Based of the series by Virginia Rich featuring Eugenia Potter, this particular volume is set in “Devon”, RI, located “on the ocean on the northeast tip of the southern edge of Rhode Island”. Numerous South County references are fun.
Coming Home. Dee Holmes. (2003)
   The heroine and her two best friends return home to “Bishop, RI”, a location identified only as “a small coastal town” where they face the usual romance novel problems.
Winner of the National Book Award. Jincy Willett. (2003)
   An odd, darkly humorous look at an unlikely pair of twins, WNBA is narrated by Dorcas, the twin who is a librarian. Set in a place called Frome, apparently somewhere in the northwestern part of the state, the book also highlights Watch Hill and Ashaway.  Willett, who attended Brown, zeroes in on certain RI traits with a telling wit, especially our weather foibles.
Dance with Me. Luanne Rice. (2004)
   A romance set in the imaginary Twin Rivers, supposedly in the central part of the state, possibly Scituate, where apple orchards play a big part in the story of two lonely people re-starting their lives.
The Ghost & Mrs. McClure. Alice Kimberly. (2004)
   This engaging cozy mystery takes place in Quindicott, “a small hamlet just outside of Newport.” This series is an homage to a blend of hardboiled detective fiction, the Topper series and The Ghost & Mrs. Muir as a young widow unwillingly channels the ghost of a murdered 1940s style detective when an author drops dead in her bookstore.  The author says that although real places & institutions are mentioned in the book, they are used in the service of fiction. However she does make fun of RI accents. Sequels are The Ghost & the Dead Deb (2005) & The Ghost & the Dead Man’s Library (2007).
The Red Thread. Ann Hood. (2010)
     The painful and courageous journey toward adoption made by several of her clients forces Maya Lange, founder of The Red Thread, an adoption agency that specializes in placing baby girls from China with American families, to confront the lost daughter of her past. All of the adoptive parents in the story live in different parts of Rhode Island.
My Sister’s Keeper. Jodi Picoult. (2004)
   Set in “Upper Darby, RI”, this best seller relates the intriguing story of what happens when a young teenager sues her parents to prevent them from removing one of her kidneys to give her dying sister.
The Silver Screen. Maureen Howard. (2004)
   The Silver Screen is the story of Isabel Maher, a young actress who abandons a promising Hollywood career to raise a family somewhere on the coast of Rhode Island. The book tells the story of her somewhat mysterious life and that of her children, one of whom becomes a priest and one who is on the lam with her mobster boyfriend.
Pike’s Folly. Mike Heppner. (2006)
   Action bounces between places in RI-mostly Providence and Little Compton- and New Hampshire where the fantastically rich and eccentric Mr. Pike is paving over a piece of forest land just for the hell of it.
The Edge of Winter. Luanne Rice (2007)
   Popular writer Rice has set this story in a South County beach community which sounds a lot like the South Kingstown area. An appealing teenage girl, her mother, a cute surfer & an attractive ranger are the leads in a tale that involves environmental issues, community action, a little romance and an involved cast of supporting characters.
Books Where R I Turns Up Occasionally
The Golden Ladder.  Rupert Hughes. (1924)
   The opening chapters are set in Providence in yet another novel based on the life of the notorious Eliza Jumel Burr.
Truant.  Richmond B. Barrett. (1944)
   A moody young man works at becoming a tennis star. The Newport tennis world is one of the settings in which he appears .
Proud Heritage. Ilse Bischoff. (1949)
   Newport and North Kingstown have minor roles in this fictionalized account of Gilbert Stuart’s life.
House of Five Talents. Louis Auchincloss. (1960)
  Another story of life of among the outrageously wealthy, this time by an author whose family was part of it. It is set mainly in New York but the summers in a Bellevue Avenue mansion are an important part of the plot.
My Main Mother. Barry Beckham. (1969)
   Brown University makes a very brief appearance in this story when the black narrator receives a scholarship there.
1876. Gore Vidal. (1976)
  Part of Vidal’s saga of American political life, some of the key scenes in this book are set among the luxurious mansions of centennial Newport.
White Rising. Zane Kotker. (1981)
  An interesting piece of historical fiction about King Philip’s War, this work shows events through both Indian and English eyes. The action ranges over southeastern New England and includes Rhode Island sites.
   Most of this fine first novel by West Warwick native Ann Hood takes place in northern New England but Rhode Island has some walk-on roles.
Waiting to Vanish. Ann Hood. (1988)
   While it begins in New York, much of this story is enacted in Rhode Island when the main character returns to her childhood home which seems to be in the Warwick/West Warwick vicinity.
The Story of My Disappearance. Paul Watkins. (1998)
   The tale of narrator Paul Wedekind’s violent life in East Germany & Afghanistan, this book begins and ends in Newport where he started a new life as a commercial fisherman.
The Babysitter. Diana Diamond. (2001)
   This thriller begins & ends in Newport though most of the action takes place on Cape Cod or out at sea. A wealthy Newport businessman running for Congress tries to reach out to the “common man” voter by hiring a young Hispanic woman to tend his kids during the summer, a move that turns out to be a big mistake. Newport just serves as a suitably well-heeled setting for the fast-moving plot. 
   When a young woman walks out on her fiancé, she lands in Narragansett & works in a bait shop. Then, when her brother decides to call off his wedding, they wind up in Pascoag.  Although most of the action occurs in Scarsdale, NY, RI seems to act as a catalyst for change.
Updated Nov. 2007
Warwick Public Library
With many thanks to the librarians around the state who contributed titles and also to attendees at
the 2007 Reading Across Rhode Island Conference who also offered many excellent suggestions.


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