Review: Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses)


My Interest

I saw this book and instantly thought, “That’s the home for me in a few years.” It sounded like a great place–and I wasn’t wrong.

“Keeping secrets after all was more about keeping them from one’s self than the world that most likely guessed long ago or didn’t care.”

Bar Harbor Retirement Home…

The Story

Three very elderly distinguished writers and an editor they’ve all know who now has early-onset Alzheimer’s are all waiting out their days at the majestic Bar Harbor Retirement Home, once the mansion-home of another great writer, and now home to elderly and a few intriguing staffers. A younger woman, an orderly with the beautiful name of Cecibel, becomes the unintentional “muse” of one of the writers–Alfronse. Together the writers and the editor produce a “book within the book” that is equally compelling.

Three Nice Surprises

I expected this to be largely a writer’s version of the Maggie Smith movie, The Quartet, but it wasn’t. That was the first nice surprise (even though I loved that movie). The characters, especially Alfonse and Cecibel, were very well developed. I loved that a real romance developed and was shown between those two, even though consummation was not the goal. The love and respect that led to those feelings were so real. That was the second nice surprise.

I wasn’t so sure, at first, about the story-within-the-story, but it worked well. I became as invested in it as I was in the “real” story. This is a plot device that, in my experience, rarely works well so this was a  third very nice surprise.

Tiny Picky Picky Faults

I did find the over-use of the terms, “my/his/a heart stitched”  to be annoying . And, no spoiler (this is a blip in the story),  I didn’t buy that Cecilia, almost surely a Catholic, had received that prescription from a doctor at the date in the story–very unlikely since it was not yet prescribed for that use.  I’m pretty sure a Navy man would have had the obvious solution in his wallet. That’s my historical pickiness is all it doesn’t impact the story, I bring it up because fact-checking got a good discussion in the story.

My Verdict

Definitely want to read more by this author!

The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses): A Novel by Terri-Lynne DeFino

If You Liked This Book

If you like the idea of an older man having a younger woman as his last muse, then check out this nonfiction book about Ernest Hemingway and his last muse. My review.


Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and His Last Muse by Andrea di Robilant.

If you dream of maintaining a creative life into advanced old age, watch Maggie Smith in The Quartet.


Finally, if you like real older man–younger woman romance, see this blog’s sidebar tag cloud for Cross Generational Romance” and see all of my posts on real life and fictional couples of this type.

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