“A dream, after all, needn’t be fueled by particulars, only by desire.”
So notes main character, Gracie Antes, in CRESTMONT, a historical fiction gem set in the 1920s.
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Determined to take control of her life, sheltered Gracie Antes leaves her unhappy home in 1925 to pursue her dream of a singing career. On her way to the big city, she accepts a job as a housemaid at the bustling Crestmont Inn. Once there, Gracie finds a life-changing encounter with opera singer Rosa Ponselle, family she never imagined could be hers, and a man with a mysterious past. Relive the 1920s with a colorful cast of characters. Discover with Gracie that sometimes we must trade loss for happiness.
Set in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania, the story is interwoven with details about the town, the rich history of The Crestmont Inn, and the family who passed ownership from one generation to the next. Many attempts have been made to explain how the mountaintop lake nestled in this tiny town came to be. Crestmont gives a new twist to an old Native American legend, setting the tone of grace around which the story is built.
Let the period of the Roaring Twenties spark your interest with its unique social mores, fashion, jazz, and yes, a little bootlegging thrown in for pizzazz.
Weiss’s omniscient narrator gives the reader a heartfelt overview … real nostalgia in Weiss’s writing—for a simpler time. Just as the opera singer, Rosa, advises Gracie, Weiss too has chosen to “sing” something she truly loves…Retreat to a 1920s free of grit, like Weiss’s smooth, efficient prose.
—Daphne Kalotay, author of Russian Winter
“The one thing I didn’t like about this book was that it ended! I was intrigued with the lives of Gracie and the staff at the Inn. I loved the characters and the fact that Eagles Mere and the Crestmont Inn are real.”
—Tammy awarded Crestmont 5 stars on Goodreads.com, Sept. 2, 2010
“Crestmont is a fine and riveting read for historical fiction fans, highly recommended.”
—Midwest Book Review of Oregon, WI rated Crestmont 5 stars on Nov. 7, 2010
“If you love well-written fiction that transports you to a bygone era, Crestmont is for you. Holly Weiss is an excellent writer, and this book is not formulaic or predictable. Through the lives of believable characters, Crestmont asks and answers deep questions. You’ll be better for having read it.”
—Janalyn Voigt, www.novelbooks.com
“Crestmont is a delightful journey back into a day when life had a different pace. It is beautifully told by Ms. Weiss. Well- developed characters make it seem so authentic. It is charming and well worth reading. I highly recommend it. “
—Rev. Bruce Webster, www.Pixel of Ink.com
“Like a good movie, Crestmont transports you to another beautiful time and place where you can forget your worries and realize your dreams.”
—Gregor Collins, author of I Met A Girl Named Maria
Holly Weiss’s Crestmont is a delight…a pitch-perfect look at life in a Pennsylvania inn in the 1920s.
—Dani Alexis, http://pixie-alexander.suite101.com
“This book is a great read! Holly Weiss gracefully manages to take the reader back to the Roaring Twenties …and its wonderful characters eventually become the readers “friends” because they are so aptly described… Ms. Weiss has a unique voice and I would highly recommend that anyone who is looking for a refreshing experience.”
“I can always tell when a book is exceptionally good. I hate for it to end. As I neared the conclusion of this truly enjoyable read, I hated the idea that I wouldn’t be able to look forward to the opportunity to revisit the characters that the author so vividly developed. The book – in a word – superb!”
“Be transported to the 1920s with ease. Holly Weiss has a fluid, descriptive talent that allows you to become absorbed in the story. She has shown considerable skill in her debut novel.
— Cheryl A. Heinrichs of AllBooks Review rated Crestmont 5 stars on Amazon, Sept. 28, 2010
“I really enjoyed reading this book and was sorry when it ended. The characters were very real and enduring…The author did a nice job of weaving several plot lines and including the period detail, which was fascinating, but not overbearing. The book has a little bit of everything: history, romance, mystery. But fans of historical fiction especially will like this book. The universal theme of a young adult trying to break free of familial constraints in order to find their way in the world would even appeal to teens. I highly recommend it.”
—Tina Toglia, PhD, Library Media Specialist at Rome Free Academy, Rome, NY, rated Crestmont 5 stars on Sept. 26, 2010
“Crestmont is a beautifully compiled novel that not only reflects the changes that occur in the lives of the characters but also…those associated with the lovely Crestmont Inn…one of those great timeless stories that captures hopes, dreams, and determination…I loved this book.”
—Angela Simmons of Review the Book awarded Crestmont 5 stars on Sept. 28, 2010
“Sweet blossoms of another time drift on this breeze of a book. Needed: an Adirondack chair, a cool, tall glass, and a transporting story, like this one, to leave the current age of tabloid trash and in-your-face dysfunction far behind.
Holly Weiss does not quite tell us why hopeful young singer Grace Antes was an unhappy girl, in her small-town Pennsylvania home. Or why her family, devout Moravians, seemed to care so little about her that no one went looking, when, with no adieu, she set out in search of a better life.
What Ms. Weiss does is to plant her gentle heroine in an excellently-drawn era of social stoicism, when “a family’s business stays at home!” Any intimation of pain, personal angst (or ecstacy!) was considered Vulgar. Jerry Springer and Oprah would have found the well dry, in that time, when polite ladies still addressed their closest friends as Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones, and husbands were “The Mister.”
It is a major act of daring when, once liberated, Grace bobs her hair, in timely flapper fashion, and then renames herself “Gracie,” maybe the first frivolous thing she’s ever done. It becomes, increasingly, a joy to watch from the lakeside shadows as this lovely, innocent and gutsy young woman takes on the world, in the milieu of an old-time, upper-class resort, where she is maid, confidante, unwitting rival and, increasingly, object of affections.
The aura of the staid, class-conscious and studiedly non-intimate society holds well, throughout. There are things the reader would have loved to be privy to, along the way… what really became of nemesis Bessie — who WAS vulgar? And what happened to the men Gracie loved, but could not, would not marry?
Oh well — that’s the way it was, in that time — it was just thought too coarse and common to let it all hang out! A really good read, and recommended.”
—Erdajean awarded Crestmont 5 stars on Amazon, August 24, 2010
“I enjoyed using my imagination throughout your story. It’s rare to find an author who assumes the reader has an imagination. What a wonderful glimpse back in time.”
—Kay Wilson, Eagles Mere resident, May 24, 2010
“Two women—separated by class, bound by duty— CRESTMONT delivers a multi-layered, appealing read. In Holly Weiss’ debut novel, 22-year-old aspiring singer Gracie Antes discovers the meaning and the rewards of hard work. She applies for a position as housemaid at the lakeside Crestmont Inn in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania in 1925. Her employer Margaret Woods, daughter of the creator and designer of the inn, sees something special in the young, naïve Gracie. During the next two years, these vastly different women bond in a special way through hardship, family strife, and responsibilities.
Gracie has one goal in mind—to earn enough money to fulfill her dream to become a singer. At first, she saves her meager earnings, but soon discovers life away from home comes with expenses. Gracie must find a way to fit in and slowly makes friends with her coworkers, but when Margaret Woods takes a fall, breaking her arm, Gracie leaves the staff dormitory to live with Margaret, her husband William, and their two young daughters. While there, Gracie learns what it takes to manage and run the Crestmont Inn, and her dreams must be put on hold.
Weiss creates distinctive characters through realistic description and believable dialogue. The staff at the Crestmont Inn includes unique individuals, from whom Gracie learns and matures as a young woman. When Gracie becomes the caregiver to a neighboring older woman in poor health, she discovers her own inner strengths.
Further, Weiss does a superb job of creating a distinct narrative world for the reader. Her details are authentic and engaging, invoking the aromas of the massive inn kitchen and the beauty and grandeur of the Pennsylvania countryside. One can almost see the morning sun reflecting off the lake, “like tinsel on the trees near the shore.” The building and grounds create the canvas for this finely woven tapestry—the inn itself becomes one of the main characters.
CRESTMONT is a debut novel for the history buff or for anyone who enjoys entering a past world and remaining there. An enjoyable stay at the inn, with ample staff to meet your needs.”
—Shelley Stout, author of Radium Halos, a Novel about the Radium Dial Painters
“What a treat! What a rare privilege to be able to sit and read such a beautiful and engrossing novel; one that swept me along to a different time and place and left me feeling that I had met new friends and had had a much needed vacation…I offer full and unqualified praise…How wonderful to discover the economic descriptiveness of James Herriot combined with the warmth and humanity of Father Andrew M. Greeley. And, like Greeley, who gives us a moral compass for God’s compassion and grace, puts this premier novel firmly in the highest level of writing.”
—Jon Fredric West, PhD, rated Crestmont 5 stars on Amazon 6/6/10
“Step into the lives of Gracie Antes and the Woods family of Eagles Mere Pennsylvania. Gracie, who decided to take control and live her life, left her sheltered family in 1925 to pursue her dreams. Crestmont was a summer job, a way to start earning money in order to follow her dream and sing. Little did she know she would find herself, friends, and a family of her own by taking a job at the Crestmont Inn. The Woods own the Crestmont and spend their time keeping the dream of Mrs. Woods’s father alive. The Crestmont is not just and Inn, but a place of happiness and solitude for many guest as well as the charming staff.
As you read this wonderful novel, you will be taken back in time to the 1920′s. You will feel you are part of the Crestmont and its staff. As Gracie’s’ story unfolds you are vividly aware of the decade, its people, pastimes and its trials. The book is truly engulfing. You will not want to put it down. The characters are unique and charming…
I really enjoyed this debut novel. I felt I was actually part of Eagles Mere and the Crestmont Inn. The characters are charming and loveable. It makes you want to visit the modern day Crestmont, though I’m sure you would arrive and be disappointed. The book is a work of historical fiction, combined with actual history, The Crestmont is a wildly entertaining read. Everything is well presented and thought out. The descriptive nature enables you to envision life during this time. The author does a wonderful job at drawing the reader in and making them welcome, wanting to be part of the story and happenings. She has a way of making the business of running an Inn feel charming and delightful…”
—Tiffany Schlarman “Review the Book” June 23, 2010 acozyreaderscorner.blogspot
“A wonderful book! The author really brings you into the 1920s and I felt like I was a part of the characters’ lives! It reminded me of the “resort” from Dirty Dancing (just in a different decade)…I was sad to see the book end! Definitely a great read for when you want to curl up on the couch and want to be transported into another time and place!”
—LTS rated Crestmont 5 stars on Amazon June 18, 2010
Thanks to my friend and supporter, Catherine D. Brown, whose brilliant cover design brought a depth to Crestmont that words could not express. Each time we consulted on the phone, I knew Crestmont was about to be better seen by you, its readers, than it had been a moment before.
So what’s with the typewriter?
Authors are notorious for recreating themselves in their characters. I confess, writing Crestmont character, Margaret Woods, came easily to me. She spent hours at her typewriter in the 1920s handling correspondence for the inn. Perhaps she was a “Type A” person, although they probably didn’t call it that back then.
Perhaps that is why I identify with her so…