Local novelist Mary Rowen enjoyed living in Winthrop so much that she decided to make her main character in “Leaving the Beach” a resident of the town.
Rowen’s book, released by independent publisher Booktrope, is set primarily in Winthrop and is about a bulimic woman who believes she’s destined to become the soul mate of a rock icon.
A lot of the main character’s eating disorder issues draw on Rowen’s own experience with bulimia. “But the book is total fiction. This is not a memoir or my own personal story.”
The book is Rowen’s second work. Her first book, “Living By Ear” has a similar title but an entirely different story.
“After college [Providence College] I lived in Winthrop for nine years and I just loved it,” said Rowen, who is now living in the suburbs of Boston with her husband, Mike, and two middle school-age children. “I loved Winthrop – the people, the beaches, just the feel of it.”
Rowen said it was fitting to base the book in Winthrop because there are two beach scenes. The book traces 15 years in the life of a bulimic woman. “At the end of the story, she is in her 30s, so it’s a coming of age story. But this is not a young adult story. It’s definitely written for adults. A lot of men like the book but I would say it’s in the women’s fiction category.”
Rowen was an English major at Providence and wrote poetry. “After working at MASSPIRG, I taught English at a school in Boston,” said Rowen. “I then went into marketing.”
Rowen, who is in her 40s, had bulimia in her late high school years through early adulthood.
“I’m healthy now,” said Rowen. “But I understand that world. I didn’t want to write an issue book about an illness or a disease. It’s not about the eating disorder. The book is about a woman and how she is obsessed with music and she believes that she is destined to be with a rock star.”
Rowen said she and her husband would love to return to Winthrop when her kids are older.
Asked if she thinks Winthrop residents will enjoy the book, Rowen replied, “I sure hope so. This is definitely a Winthrop story. I hope the people of Winthrop will like it.”
(“Leaving the Beach” is available at Suzanne Martucci’s Winthrop Book Depot and Cafe’ and Simon’s Bookstore. Mary Rowen will be doing a book signing and reading at the Book Depot on July 19, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.).