Fans of my debut novel, I Believe You, can rejoice – the wait is over! The Majeks are back in a new full- length novel.
I See You offers both mystery and a hauntingly good ghost story as well as the fresh, fun characters you’ve grown to love in my previous work.
A sneak peek…
It’s Christmastime and the Majek family prepares to celebrate the holidays together. Turquoise Daniels, the family’s quirky housekeeper and now property manager, stops in an antique store in Cold Spring Harbor, searching for a gift for David. Little does she know that the snow globe she buys on a whim will propel the family into their darkest hour as they battle an unseen spirit who seems hell-bent on destroying their lives. Is the spirit malevolent – or is there more to it?
As the family searches for answers, they stumble upon a 50-year old cold case involving the disappearance of a child with Down Syndrome from one of Long Island’s most prestigious estates. David, Turquoise, Josh, Eddie, Joan, Eva, and David’s new girlfriend, Sarah Schein, must figure out the identity of the ghost…and solve the case…before it’s too late.
Major Themes of the New Novel
The first Majek novel, I Believe You, focused on the bonds of family. Cathy’s love for her children and husband, especially her youngest child, Eddie, infuse the story as David and his family solve the mystery of her death.
I See You weaves two very different themes in its pages. The primary theme throughout is the rights of the disabled, or the differently-abled. Eddie, the youngest Majek son, is profoundly deaf. But two new characters in I See You both share the diagnosis of Down Syndrome. One happened to be born in 1956, a time when people with Down Syndrome were often warehoused in institutions. Polly Marks Dalinger, the little girl who disappears from White Oak Hall one snowy winter evening, was at least cared for at home by a servant. But she could have been sent to an institution to languish among strangers. Which is worse: to be hidden away as if you aren’t part of the family or sent to live among strangers?
Until very recently, myths abounded about people with intellectual disabilities. People believed all sorts of strange ideas about them. They thought they would be violent, or prone to violence. Some thought they couldn’t learn or be productive members of society. When Polly, the character in I See You, is born in 1956, the prevailing wisdom was that children such as she should be warehoused with their own kind and that nothing could be done to help them.
Much has changed in the 50-60 years since Polly and hundreds like her were born into a world that did not understand them. Anna, a new Majek family member, is also born with Down Syndrome. But instead of being warehoused, doctors urge her parents to abort her. Again, I ask the question: which is worse? To be warehoused after one’s birth or to be killed before even being given a chance at life?
I don’t answer these questions directly, although readers will know where I stand on these issues in the pages of I See You. I want you to think about it when you get to know Polly, Anna, and other characters like them in my books.
Theme and Variation: Long Island’s Great Estates and the Gatsby Era
A secondary theme in I See You is the loss of Long Island’s great estates. The Gold Coast of Long Island stretches along its north shore. Communities throughout Nassau and Suffolk County once boasted incredible wealth, especially before the Great Depression. These families built elaborate seasonal playgrounds that includes many famous estates.
As a child growing up on Long Island, many school field trips included visits to Sands Point, the planetarium, and other destinations. My father was an avid gardener and often took us to Planting Fields; their greenhouses are famous. At the time, the mansion wasn’t open, but many Sunday afternoons found us wandering the camellia house, the desert plant greenhouse, and more.
By far, my favorite among the old mansions is Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens. This gem of architecture, with gardens designed to accompany the house, is perfectly preserved. My sister volunteered at the gardens while she was in college and I spent a few days happily wandering around the estate while it was closed to the public.
It’s sad to see the old estates fall into disrepair. One such estate that broke my heart was Target Rock. Target Rock Nature Preserve is a unique piece of preserved land in Lloyd Harbor, New York. The ‘target rock’ is a giant rock that during high tide sits out in the Long Island Sound; the tide leaves and it’s close to shore. The British used it for target practice from their ships during the Revolutionary War and the area was named for it.
The Eberstadt family owned the land until 1969 and lived in a Georgian-style manor house amidst lovely gardens and natural beauty. Ferdinand Eberstadt was a lawyer, investment banker and public servant who helped found the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council. His wife donated the estate to the government and it became the Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge.
My husband introduced me to the preserve when we were dating and we spent many happy Sunday afternoons wandering the nearly deserted grounds. It was so peaceful and serene! The empty mansion made me sad, though, and in the late 1990s it was torn down.
By far my favorite place to sit and just be still was the freshwater pond at the estate. A great heron used to nest there and I would watch him go spear fishing and catch silvery fish that glittered in the morning sunlight. Few people knew of Target Rock when I lived a short distance away and I felt it was my personal playground.
Sharp readers will see portions of my favorite mansions and grand estates, Old Westbury Gardens and Target Rock, in I See You. Of course, the Dalinger’s story is pure fiction. Mr. Eberstadt was an honored and respected man. I completely made up the Dalinger’s tale, but it would be reasonable to assume that people like the Dalingers once existed on the grand estates of Long Island.
Today, most of the old estates fall to the wrecking ball. They’re just too costly to maintain. A few can be repurposed: one is part of a college campus, the old Marshall Field estate is at Caumsett Park and houses biology students doing oceanography work, and so on.
Oheka Castle is perhaps one of the best known. Private investors bought it and resurrected the grand mansion into a hotel and catering hall. I remember seeing it in the 1990s when it was still under restoration. The pictures online today make my heart happy when I see the love, care, and attention that has been poured into the estate.
Long Island’s vanishing past — its mansions, grand estates, potato fields and farms — forms the ‘variation’ to the ‘theme’ in I See You, with the estate itself almost like another character in the book.
I hope you enjoy the book. It will be available on Amazon on October 27, 2019 in paperback and Kindle versions.