Sunday, August 29, 2010

Setting as Character: Ipswich locations

They say that a setting can be a character in a book. I'm trying for that in Speaking of Murder. Ipswich, Massachusetts, is a real town in a real state. I happen to live in it. And it is a character with character. We celebrated the 375th anniversary of its founding last year. I even hand-sewed an outfit to match the year of our house, 1718, and walked in the parade.

Not all the quirky parts of town are historical, but a lot of them are.
In my book, you'll find references to the Choate Bridge, and the Choate Bridge Pub.

The bridge, adjacent to the busy downtown intersection and for more than a hundred years one of the only ways to travel south, is the oldest stone arch bridge in North America. Colonel John Choate funded part of the construction and supervised the building of the bridge. According to Ipswich Historical Society publications, when the bridge was opened in 1764, Choate was on horseback ready to flee north to New Hampshire if the radical new method of construction failed.

The Choate Bridge pub is on the corner next to the bridge. It features locally brewed ales, friendly waitstaff, lots of locals, and really excellent fried clams, also harvested locally. And is also the site of a pivotal scene in my book.

My protagonist walks and runs on Labor in Vain Road. She finds someone near death from a drug overdose just over the Labor in Vain Creek Bridge. According to legend, probably true, when the Ipswich River silted up, locals would try to row up the river, but at about the point when they encountered the creek, they realized they were "laboring in vain."

Lauren walks in the historic cemetery. She watches an antique boat shop burn down. Her friend lives in a house built in the 1700s.

The next book in the series already features Crane Beach and the Crane mansion, a stately residence that sits atop a hill overlooking the beach. It involves a real-life conflict between the Feoffees of Little Neck and the local School Committee. Stay tuned

What is your favorite locale-as-character?


  1. Very interesting post, Edith . I think I'm going to have to pay a trip to Ipswich to see all these places before I read your book!

  2. My High School was located at Ribeira, on the lower part of the city of Salvador, Bahia. During breaks, we would walk on the beach, and sometimes we visited a "Ghost Ship" that had been in that area for years (I have no idea how many years). Lots of things were said to happen in that ship. We were only brave enough to go to the ship during the day time. At night, no one knew what went on... That would probably be my favorite locale-as-character. Most certainly, an evil character of sorts.

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Pat and Guta! I appreciate it. You're both welcome to come for a personalized tour of Ipswich any time.