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 were published after 1900.
To view this complete list in our online card catalog, follow this link: Set in Rhode Island Selected 20th & 21st Century Fiction
Ocean State. Stewart O’Nan. (2022).
Four alternating perspectives recall the events surrounding a high school love triangle that ends in the murder of a teenage girl.
Devil’s Grace. Elizabeth B. Splaine. (2020).
While struggling to find purpose in her work after a car accident kills her entire family, a cardiac surgeon is given an anonymous note that implies the hospital itself may be responsible for her daughter’s death.
Nasty Breaks. Charlotte & Aaron Elkins. (1997).
Lee Ofsted, a young pro golfer and amateur detective, winds up on Block Island where she plays golf, enjoys the scenery, and solves a kidnapping/murder case.
The Islanders. Meg Mitchell Moore. (2019).
A group of Block Island residents and visitors share a transitional summer that comes to a head when a major storm hits.
Hidden. Karen E. Olson. (2015).
Tina Adler, a former bank hacker, finds the peace and quiet she has created for herself interrupted when her ex-boyfriend and the police arrive at her door with questions about her past.
She’s Not There. Mary-Ann Tirone Smith. (2003).
An FBI agent has her Block Island vacation interrupted when multiple teenagers attending a local weight loss camp are found dead.
The Passions of Emma. Penelope Williamson. (1997).
Set in Bristol in the 1890’s, Emma meets and befriends young couple Bria and Shay McKenna. While Bria is dying of consumption, Emma develops feelings for Shay.
Loot the Moon. Mark Arsenault. (2009).
In the second title in the Billy Povich series, Povich believes the individual who murdered his former law partner was paid to do the job. While investigating the case on his own time, the murderer comes after Povich.
Rogue’s Wager. Thomas Gately Briody. (1997).
When a quahogger ignites dynamite in Stillhouse Cove, murder, fraud, and violence follow in one of Briody’s Michael Carolina mysteries.
The Memory of Running. Ron McLarty. (2004).
When a middle-aged man loses his entire family, he sets off on a cross-country bike trip to recover the body of his sister.
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 that injured her 40 years ago. Can he discover who fired that shot so many years ago?
Fogland Point. Doug Burgess. (2018).
Returning to Little Compton after many years to care for his grandma, David is brought into a murder investigation when his grandmas neighbor is found dead shortly after his arrival.
Compass Rose. John Casey. (2010).
In this follow up to Spartina, natural resources warden Elsie Buttrick is forced to deal with the fallout from her affair with fisherman Dick Pierce.
Spartina. John Casey. (1989).
The story of a contemporary fisherman fighting desperately to make a living at sea but slowly losing the battle.
Keeper of Enchanted Rooms. Charlie N. Holmberg. (2022).
Having inherited a haunted property in Narragansett Bay, Merritt finds himself having no choice but to live there as the house physically traps him.
Calm at Sunset, Calm at Dawn. Paul Watkins. (1989).
Watkins successfully conveys a brutal description of life on a fishing vessel and of the unbelievable difficulty of trying to earn a living through commercial fishing.
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 Narragansett tribe and Christians.
Strange Wives. Shirley Barker. (1963).
Historical fiction about the building of Touro Synagogue and the development of Newport’s Jewish community.
Hush Now, Don’t You Cry. Rhys Bowen. (2012).
In the eleventh volume of the Molly Murphy series, a mystery solving couple has their honeymoon interrupted when the owner of the estate they are staying at is murdered.
My New Found Land. Dean Brelis. (1963).
Set just before Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first presidential win, a young Greek immigrant comes of age in Newport.
Rogue’s Regatta. Thomas Gately Briody. (1999).
Most of this Michael Carolina Mystery takes place in Newport where the yacht-racing son of a wealthy resident is murdered.
The Forgotten Room. Lincoln Child. (2015).
In the fourth title of the Jeremy Logan series, a former think tank member receives a call to investigate the suicide of one of the group’s researchers.
Moonlight Becomes You. Mary Higgins Clark. (1996).
A young woman returns to Newport to reunite with her former stepmother, only for her stepmother to be murdered shortly after her arrival.
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 located in a slave tunnel on the grounds of a mysterious mansion.
Strange Bedfellow. Janet Dailey. (1979).
A missing husband returns and complicates his wife’s new life.
Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier. Lisa Dale. (2011).
Two brother’s work on mending their relationship after one divorces the woman who broke the others heart several years ago.
Cliff Walk. Bruce DeSilva. (2012).
In the sequel to Rogue Island, a reporter studies the link between a recent string of murders taking place in Newport and the state of Rhode Island’s legalization of sex work.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. Hazel Gaynor. (2018).
A pregnant teenager is sent to stay with family in a lighthouse where she learns about the events of another woman lighthouse keeper from one hundred years before.
The gods of Newport. John Jakes. (2006).
Set in the Gilded Age, a wealthy man pushes his daughter into a wealthy but loveless marriage.
Death on the Cliff Walk: A Gilded Age Mystery. Mary Kruger. (1994).
A young woman whose wealthy relatives are part of The Four Hundred solves a murder with the help of a local police officer.
A Sense of Entitlement. Anna Loan-Wilsey. (2014).
A traveling secretary sent to work in Newport has to put her sleuthing skills to use when a wealthy resident is murdered amidst a labor dispute.
The Exiles. Allison Lynn. (2013).
Escaping from New York City to Newport after being evicted, Emily and Nate are hoping to leave their problems behind. Shortly after their arrival in Newport they are robbed, and spend their three-day weekend quickly burning through their savings while secrets with the potential to destroy their relationship are revealed.
Ask No Quarter. George Marsh. (1945).
Set between Newport and the Indies in the 1700s, a young man spends his days making a living as a privateer and fighting off pirates.
Murder on the Cliff. Stefanie Matteson. (1991).
A former actress / sleuth is called to solve a mystery when a famous geisha is murdered at the Black Ships Festival in Newport.
Murder at Beacon Rock. Alyssa Maxwell. (2022).
In the tenth Gilded Newport Mystery title, a body is found floating in the water near Beacon Rock mansion. Despite the police ruling the death a suicide, a local reporter launches her own murder investigation.
An Unlikely Suitor. Nancy Moser. (2011).
Two friends, one a dressmaker and the other a socialite, pursue romantic relationships while staying at a Newport mansion.
Breakwater Bay. Shelly Noble. (2014).
On her 30th birthday, a preservationist working out of Newport has her life thrown into chaos when a family secret is revealed.
Geometry of Sisters. Luanne Rice. (2009).
After family tragedy strikes, a mom relocates herself and her children from Ohio to Newport for a teaching job.
What Matters Most. Luanne Rice. (2007).
Having put their baby up for adoption years before, a now separated couple sets out to find their son.
Dusk at the Grove. Samuel Rogers. (1934).
A family’s life together is revealed over a span of several years in relation to their aging home in Newport.
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.
The Maze at Windermere. Gregory Blake Smith. (2018).
A famous but aging tennis player and a drunk party guest make a bet, resulting in a story that spans centuries.
Ariabella, the First. Nina Straight. (1981).
A young woman returns to her childhood home and reminisces about her youth before the house is turned into a tourist attraction.
The Price of Inheritance. Karin Tanabe. (2014).
A woman sets out to investigate a Middle Eastern antique and finds romance with the original owner.
Mansions of the Dead. Sarah Stewart Taylor. (2004).
This is the second of a detective series featuring art history professor Sweeney St. George. While the action centers on Cambridge, this novel has lots of Newport in it since the student/victim was a member of a rich family with a summerhouse there.
A Match in the Making. Jen Turano. (2023).
Set in the 1888 matchmaking season, a young woman is tasked with finding a young widow a new match, but she realizes the best match for him may actually be her.
Dragon Cove. Carter A. Vaughan. (1964).
A fictional account where the British occupy Newport for several years during the American Revolution.
Spindrift. Phyllis A. Whitney. (1975).
A romantic suspense novel set in a requisite ominous mansion that, in this case, is located in Newport.
Theophilus North. Thornton Wilder. (1973).
The title character spends a summer in Newport in 1926, teaching tennis and solving problems for Newport’s residents among many levels of society.
The Lost Summers of Newport. Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White. (2022).
Spanning from the Gilded Age through modern times, three different women residing in Newport each spend their summers surrounded by death and mystery.
Double Lives. Jane Barnes. (1981).
A CIA agent whose career has been ruined and his troubled family share a tumultuous 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 based on Wickford, this is a tale of three women who believe that they have witch-like powers and 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.
Italian Lessons. Peter Pezzelli. (2007).
Recent college graduate and rugby player Carter Quinn returns home to North Providence for the summer and persuades a Rhode Island College 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 sent to boarding school in the 1970s.
How Are You Going to Save Yourself. J.M. Holmes. (2018).
Four black teenaged boys come of age in Pawtucket in this short story collection.
Murfy’s Men. Gerald Green. (1981).
This work of historical fiction focuses on the Black Regiment and the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778.
Gravewriter. Mark Arsenault. (2006).
Arsenault, a Providence Journal reporter, provides a well-written mystery with detailed Providence settings. The book stars a former investigative reporter whose jury duty case suggests something highly suspicious to him.
The Broken Hours. Jacqueline Baker. (2014).
A man takes on a job as a live in personal assistant to a mysterious person whom he eventually discovers, after corresponding with them solely through written communication, is H.P. Lovecraft.
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.
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).
In the sequel to Rogue’s Isles, Michael Carolina returns from boating to Providence after his friend is murdered.
A Confidential Source. Jan Brogan. (2005).
Set in Providence, this thriller features a young woman reporter who witnesses a shooting while food shopping at Wayland Square.
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 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.
Shadows in the Darkness. Elaine Cunningham. (2004).
A former cop turned private investigator takes on a case of a missing teenage girl that she believes is connected to a local strip club. The follow up novel is Shadows in the Starlight (2006).
Heart of the Night. Barbara Delinsky. (1989).
Providence and Newport are the backdrops for this Delinsky romance novel. If you can believe a bright, beautiful, successful D. A. falls in love with an unknown disc jockey because of his voice, you will enjoy this book.
It’s Not Nothing. Courtney Denelle. (2022).
Having dealt with a series of traumatizing events and several suicide attempts, Rosemary drifts from various jobs and mental hospitals in Rhode Island as her wellbeing continues to deteriorate.
Rogue Island. Bruce DeSilva. (2010).
A journalist sets out to discover the identity of whomever is setting fires in his childhood hometown of Providence.
The Survivor’s Club. Lisa Gardner. (2002).
A fast-moving thriller set amongst the legal profession and the East Side 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.
Keeper and Kid. Edward Hardy. (2008).
After discovering he has a son he did not know existed, an architect must adjust his lifestyle to fit a toddler.
The Secrets of Midwives. Sally Hepworth. (2015).
When a third generation midwife becomes pregnant but refuses to reveal the identity of the baby’s father to her family, the secrecy around her pregnancy results in decades’ worth of life altering family secrets being revealed.
Carter and Lovecraft. Jonathan L. Howard. (2015).
A former detective turned bookstore owner finds his time solving crimes may not be over when a string of murders occurs.
The Tell. Hester Kaplan. (2013).
A couple’s rocky marriage is thrown further into chaos when an older actor becomes their neighbor and inserts himself into their lives.
The Drowning Girl. Caitlin R. Kiernan. (2012).
A young schizophrenic woman struggles to recount the difference between what is real and what is in her mind when writing a story about a drowning girl.
Mill Stream. Hortense Lion. (1941).
Historical fiction set in 1788 tells of the development of textile industry in the state. It moves to Pawtucket as well with Samuel Slater playing a leading role.
I am Providence. Nick Mamatas. (2016).
When a novelist is murdered at a H.P. Lovecraft convention, an investigation is launched amongst the events attendees.
Airs of Providence. Jean McGarry. (1985).
Award-winning collection of short stories is set in a working-class Irish neighborhood within the capital city.
Ceremony. Robert Parker. (1982).
Spenser, Parker’s popular detective, pursues a runaway teen through some of Providence’s sleaziest areas.
Every Sunday. Peter Pezzelli. (2005).
A Providence hardware store is the center for this tale of a loving Italian family when the father’s sudden death catapults them into new decisions. Pezzelli has also written Home to Italy (2004) and Francesca’s Kitchen (2006) both of which are set in state.
Villa Mirabella. Peter Pezzeli. (2010).
After his business goes under, Jason returns to his hometown to help save his family’s business.
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 Francoeur’s continues in The Country (1981) and The Woods (1982).
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.
The Possible World. Liese O’Halloran Schwarz. (2018).
A story spanning three generations, three strangers living in Providence deal with the traumatic events that have happened in their lives and the murder that brought them together.
This Room Is Yours. Michael Stein. (2004).
As his mother develops dementia, the narrator reluctantly moves her to a nursing home near his home in Providence. This novel resonates with the shifting family dynamics between adult children and their parents.
City on Fire. Don Winslow. (2021).
Set in the 1980’s, a feud between rival gangs comes to a head when a member from one gang makes a pass at the opposite gang members girlfriend.
Exes. Max Winter. (2017).
A man becomes fixated on trying to put the pieces of his brother’s life together after he commits suicide.
Providence. Geoffrey Wolff. (1986).
A novel of crime and corruption that twists through different levels of Providence society.
Avery’s Knot. Mary Cable. (1981).
Historical crime fiction about a sensational murder case from 1832 in which a clergyman was tried and acquitted for the murder of a young pregnant woman.
The Tragedy at Tiverton. Raymond Paul. (1984).
Based on the real life case from 1832, a minister goes to trial for the case of a young pregnant woman who was murdered. Early 19th century Bristol/Tiverton areas are well portrayed.
The Properties of Water. Ann Hood. (1995).
This story of a disintegrating marriage and the family that it affects is set near the Royal Mills in West Warwick, called East Essex in this work.
Finding Mrs. Ford. Deborah Goodrich Royce. (2019).
Existing comfortably in her coastal home in Westerly, Susan Ford’s life is thrown into chaos when she gets call from the FBI.
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.
Agatha of Little Neon. Clare Luchette. (2021).
When their church is shut down, Agatha and her Sisters are transferred from New York to work in a halfway house in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Rhode Island – No Specific Town, Generic or Imaginary Town.
RomeAntically Challenged. Marina Adair. (2020).
When the owner of an Airbnb returns home to Rome, Rhode Island early, he and the lessee agree to share the space. However, their opposing personalities and attraction to each other become a source of tension.
The Ghost Goes to the Dogs. Cleo Coyle. (2023).
Set in the fictitious Quindicott, a bookstore owner and ghost private investigator solve dog-centric mysteries as their town prepares for Pet Week.
Plain Bad Heroines. Emily M. Danforth. (2020).
Set on the RI coastline, two boarding school students are found dead on the campus, prompting the school to shut down a few years later. Over 100 years later, a book is written about the school, resulting in a movie adaptation. When the school grounds are reopened for filming, the past comes back to haunt those on set.
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).
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.
A Week at the Shore. Barbara Delinsky. (2020).
Photographer Mallory returns to her family beach home in Bay Bluff, Rhode Island after 20 years away with her teenaged daughter in tow.
The Other Sister. Dianne Dixon. (2016).
In an unspecified Rhode Island town, twin sisters Ali and Morgan’s tumultuous relationship becomes even more complicated after Ali announces her engagement and moves across the country.
There Your Heart Lies. Mary Gordon. (2017).
An elderly woman shares her cottage with her granddaughter while she reflects on her time as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War.
The Sisters Chase. Sarah Healy. (2017).
After their mom dies, Mary and her younger sister Hannah go on a cross-country road trip, one of the longer stops being in fictitious Northton, Rhode Island.
Pike’s Folly. Mike Heppner. (2006).
A wealthy man buys a piece of land in New Hampshire, where he eventually builds a Kmart.
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.
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.
The Red Thread. Ann Hood. (2010).
A novel that follows several different families through the process of adopting baby girls from China.
Ruby. Ann Hood. (1997).
A young widow takes in a pregnant runaway teen hoping to adopt her baby.
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 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.
The Red Tree. Caitlin R. Kiernan. (2009).
An author discovers a manuscript in the rural Rhode Island home she is staying in, which focuses obsessively on a tree on the property. She, like the author of the manuscript, finds herself fixated on the same tree.
The Ghost & Mrs. McClure. Alice Kimberly. (2004).
A mystery themed bookstore becomes the home of a murder investigation when an author drops dead at a book signing.
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 fictitious Easterly, RI to live with her grandmother.
The Snitch. Robert Leuci. (1997).
The Snitch, similar to 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.
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.
Defenseless. Celeste Marsella. (2008).
After witnessing a murder, four friends become part of the investigation that eventually leads them to a college campus.
Summer House. Hannah Roberts McKinnon. (2017).
A family reunites at their beach house for their fathers 80th birthday, resulting in reflection upon the times that they have spent there.
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 Quakers 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).
Whirlwind. Hilary Norman. (2017).
Returning to the fictitious town of Shiloh for Christmas, Liza and Norman must contend with The Reaper, the town’s self-proclaimed psychopath.
My Mrs. Brown. William D. Norwich. (2016).
Having lived a quaint life in fictitious Ashville, Rhode Island, Mrs. Brown lays eyes on an Oscar de la Renta dress while shopping one day and goes to great lengths to make it hers.
The Secret Ingredient Murders. Nancy Pickard. (2001).
Eugenia Potter is called to Rhode Island to take care of family. When she gets there, old friend Stanley is excited to plan a party with Eugenia’s family. Things quickly go south when Stanley is found dead at the party, and it is up to Eugenia to figure out who did it.
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.
Love Will Tear Us Apart. Sarah Rainone. (2009).
High school friends reunite in their Rhode Island hometown for a wedding for two members of their friend group.
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 parent’s deal with a deaf child.
Dance with Me. Luanne Rice. (2004).
Returning to their childhood hometown for a fresh start, Jane and Dylan reunite with their families and find romance with each other.
The Edge of Winter. Luanne Rice. (2007).
Rice has set this story in the fictitious South County beach community. An appealing teenage girl, her mother, a cute surfer, and 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.
The Human Shore. Harvena Richter. (1959).
A woman and her family watch the destruction of their home amidst a hurricane.
What the Waves Know. Tamara Valentine. (2016).
Set on the fictitious Tilling’s Island, a young girl stops speaking after her father leaves her family. Years later, the girl and her mom return to their hometown in hopes that the daughter will begin to speak again.
Rhode Island Blues. Fay Weldon. (2000).
The main characters in this novel are a grandmother/granddaughter duo who wind up in RI when the grandmother Felicity chooses an upscale nursing home in which to spend the rest of her life.
Winner of the National Book Award. Jincy Willett. (2003).
A set of twins are discovered by a predatory poet who introduces them to a Hollywood writer, quickly leading them down a destructive path.
A Hundred Summers. Beatriz Williams. (2013).
When her best friend marries her ex-fiancé, Lilly returns to Seaview, Rhode Island and strikes up an affair with a college boyfriend.
Books Where RI Turns Up Occasionally
The Shape of My Heart. Ann Aguirre. (2014).
A bike trip from Michigan to Providence brings two roommates closer together.
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.
Truant. Richmond B. Barrett. (1944).
A young man puts all of his attention into becoming a tennis star after receiving coaching from a wealthy tennis enthusiast.
Proud Heritage. Ilse Bischoff. (1949).
Newport and North Kingstown have minor roles in this fictionalized account of Gilbert Stuart’s life.
London Is the Best City in America. Laura Dave. (2006).
When a young woman walks out on her fiancé, she lands in Narragansett and 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.
The Babysitter. Diana Diamond. (2001).
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.
The Marriage Plot. Jeffrey Eugenides. (2011).
Set in the 1980s, college student Madeline finds herself in the midst of a love triangle with two different men, one of whom is an old acquaintance and the other whom she meets at a semiotics class.
The Book That Matters Most. Ann Hood. (2016).
Ava joins a book club in Providence to work through the events of her past while her daughter Maggie takes up a romance with an older Parisian man.
Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine. Ann Hood. (1987).
Set predominantly in Maine but occasionally in Rhode Island, a trio of friend’s deal with the choices that they made in the 1960s.
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 Golden Ladder. Rupert Hughes. (1924).
The opening chapters are set in Providence in a novel based on the life of the notorious Eliza Jumel Burr.
Providence. Caroline Kepnes. (2018).
Abducted as a child and given “powers” that make the people he encounters sick, Jon avoids Chloe, his childhood crush who he keeps reconnecting with throughout his adult life.
White Rising. Zane Kotker. (1981).
An interesting piece of historical fiction about King Philip’s War, this work shows events through the eyes of both the English and Wampanoag tribe. The action ranges over southeastern New England and includes Rhode Island sites.
The Lowland. Jhumpa Lahiri. (2013).
A man returns home to Calcutta after political uprising leads to the death of his brother.
The Study of Animal Languages. Lindsay Stern. (2019).
Traveling from Vermont to Rhode Island, an estranged couple’s relationship is pushed further into turmoil when the husband makes several public disruptions, one of which occurs at a lecture at the college where they both teach.
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.
The Story of My Disappearance. Paul Watkins. (1998).
The tale of 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.
Updated June 2023 by the Newport Public Library
Previously updated in 2007 by the 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.