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Holly Weiss

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Member Since: Mar, 2010

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Crestmont
by Holly Weiss   

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Category: 

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Star Publish LLC ISBN-10:  1935188100 Type: 
Pages: 

340

Copyright:  May 1 2010 ISBN-13:  9781935188100
Fiction

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Holly Weiss
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Holly Weiss

A glimpse into the lives and loves of The Crestmont Inn's staff during the 1920s in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania.
Now in Kindle http://amzn.to/eLOuGS.
Reader Views 2011 Award Winner

Visit the author at http://www.hollyweiss.com

 “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.
 
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 in 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  a little bootlegging thrown in for pizzazz.
 
Author interview at Feathered Quill http://bit.ly/99qjUE
 
Visit  the author at http://www.hollyweiss.com
for a downloadable Readers Guide for book groups and
information about the author's inspiration and research.
 
 
REVIEWS
 

Crestmont is the story of the eponymous inn, which is located in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania and which had its heyday in the 1920s, the time period featured in the novel.  We’re introduced to the Crestmont Inn through the eyes of Gracie, a young lady who leaves home to become a singer and stops for a few seasons to work as a housekeeper at the Crestmont and save some money.

Meanwhile, the inn itself does a thriving summer business, but needs updates and improvements.  Its owner-operators, William and Margaret Woods, are full of ideas and goodwill but short on cash – until Margaret discovers a letter, left by her late father, directing her to a hidden stash that the Crestmont’s creator put aside for precisely this purpose.  Work begins apace as Gracie joins the local church and begins to make friends – as well as romantic interests – among the Crestmont staff and in Eagles Mere at large.

Gracie wants to be a singer, and serendipity is with her when she meets the legendary opera singer Rosa Ponselle, then star of the New York Metropolitan Opera.  Gracie’s own birth family is drifting away from her, but in the staff and visitors at the Crestmont, she begins to find a family composed of those who love and enjoy her for who she is – or, as Richard Bach put it, one tied together by “respect and joy in each other’s lives.”

Crestmont is ideal reading for those who want to get away to a simpler past and enjoy the relationships fostered by good will and hard work in the Pennsylvania countryside.

Reviewed on 07/23/2011 by ReviewTheBook.com Member Dani Alexis Ryskamp
 
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
 
Holly Weiss’s debut novel is a nostalgic take on the goings-on at a fashionable 1920s inn, where the heroine, Grace, takes refuge as a housekeeper to escape a forbidden love. A likeable all-American girl, Grace bobs her hair and changes her name to Gracie, acknowledging the transformation ahead of her.

We meet other staff members and visitors to the resort, and more heartache awaits Gracie—but when, over halfway through the book, a famed opera singer arrives, Gracie’s natural talent is allowed its due.

Weiss’s omniscient narrator gives the reader a heartfelt overview of Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania and its history; the narrative is book-ended by multiple prologues (one of them particularly inventive) and an epilogue that reveals what becomes of Gracie.

There is 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. This is a historical novel for those who want to retreat to a 1920s free of grit, like Weiss’s smooth, efficient prose.
                —Daphne Kalotay, author of Russian Winter
 
"The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it ended!"
    --Tammy awarded Crestmont 5 stars on Goodreads 9/2010
 
 
"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, and a few loose strands dangling, at the end. 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 8/24/2010
 
 
****
 
"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, reviewed Crestmont on Goodreads and Shelfari
 
“Books are one of the best and most affordable ways to escape the drudgery…and predictability of our own lives. Crestmont by Holly Weiss was an example of the best kind…Grace Antes, a young girl in her twenties, decides to leave her rather unhappy home and make her way to the big city. She wishes to pursue a singing career, but is realistic enough to recognize her need for more funds…so she accepts a job as a housemaid in the very busy Crestmont Inn…There she encounters not only a cast of uniquely wonderful characters, but also acquires a new family and understanding of herself. Gracie, as she decides to call herself, is both refreshingly naïve and charmingly eager to learn…Crestmont describes daily life at a large inn in wonderful detail, and Ms. Weiss brings an army of characters to life in vivid colors (and sounds!). With a cast this charming, it would be impossible to pick out a favorite. I have to admit I found each and every one of the characters lively and intricate. Another item that I simply have to mention – the poems by the “Paperbag Poet.”
      I highly recommend Crestmont to readers who enjoy well-researched, credible fiction and who long for slower, gentler times. They will definitely find respite on the pages of this delightful book.”
             — Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (05/10)

You will not be disappointed because you gave this new author a try. Holly Weiss writes very well. There is great attention to character development and setting detail. The story line is well thought out, interesting, and maintains a very good pace that never bogs down. You will like the general upbeat nature of the novel "Crestmont".   --K. Gardiner awarded Crestmont 5 stars on Amazon 6/13/2010

 Crestmont tells an engaging story, and in a tone both playful and serene, Holly Weiss deftly portrays characters and events that transport us to a by-gone era. Spanning eight decades, this work of historical fiction effectively conveys a feel for place and the passing of time. A very satisfying read.  --Glenn Fetzer

One evening, far too late to be starting anything new, I opened Crestmont, ---just to see what it had to say....It had much to say ---and far into the night, rather early morning, I realized that I had been drawn into the story....
The descriptions spun out effortlessly on the page make the place and its people appear vividly in the mind's eye. One can feel Crestmont, whether it's off-season and empty or if every table is filled with happy guests. If I could paint, I could create that unique landscape.   One gets to know each character, picturing them again and again, adding to their beings each time they appear in the storyline, in the full flavor of the 1920s (the era when my parents were young and daring). 
Holly Weiss knows how to paint with words. For example:   "Dim street lights cast spidery fingers of purple, blue and yellow in the oil spills on the rain-soaked street..."    And: "The late morning kissed the tops of the golden oaks on the mountainside. Blurry images swam in the lake, a mirror of the vermillion and orange leaves that glistened
from last night's gentle autumn rain and pocketed themselves amidst the emerald of the tall white pine trees."There are dozens of such passages and, reading slowly, I savored them.
One could keep track of time with the dated chapter heading and the advance of fifty years at the end was a fine surprise and closure.
… a great excursion to Eagles Mere. … beautiful debut!
--Dottie Diemel
 
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 6/18/2010
 
…I don't usually read books like Crestmont. I'm more into action, history, the sea - those sorts of things. That said, I LOVED Holly Weiss' CRESTMONT. I live an hour or so from Eagle's Mere, but have never gone there. That will change!
…I felt as though I was visiting the mountain resort in the 1920s. Grace's life became real to me, and I wanted to know her and her friends better. I could feel the seasons and see the scenery, smell the food and the polishing wax and hear the echoes of footsteps in the great lobby. I also felt I met Holly along the way and got to know her.
I'll keep my eye out for Holly's next book…Until then, I'm packing the family into the car and heading out to Eagles Mere and Crestmont very soon.
Kenneth R. Anderson rated Crestmont 5 stars on Amazon 6/23/2010
 
 
 “Holly Weiss' Crestmont is a book that was meant to be read aloud - the depictions are incredibly detailed and the tone of the story is both peaceful and engaging. It's a book about people and how their relationships shaped who they are. As you read, you find parts of yourself reflected back with startling clarity and not without a generous amount of sensitivity. Gracie, Margaret, PT, and all the other characters have weaknesses that many of us share and strengths we all aspire to. I felt their pain and delighted in their successes. But in the end, the best part about Crestmont is it is purely enjoyable. It was as if I were at the 1920's Crestmont Inn - breathing the fresh air, smelling the newly baked bread, and watching the butterflies flit among the flowers. For the hours I spent reading this book, I was there. And just like the characters, I could sense the healing and tranquility of that place. Even long after I had finished reading, I found my mind traveling back to the solace of the inn. Holly Weiss' book does the heart good and I strongly encourage you to take some time out of your day to relax, remember, and dream with the Crestmont staff. “ --Rita P. gave 5 stars to Crestmont on www.amazon.com
 
“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…full and unqualified praise…How wonderful to discover the economic descriptiveness of James Herriot combined with the warmth and humanity of  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, internationally known operatic tenor
 
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 DialPainters
http://shelleystout.librifiles.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shelley-Stout/116887518693

I've truly enjoyed reading this wonderful book. It's the kind of book that you find yourself thinking about the characters all day and not wanting to put it down. I love books with details - descriptions that make you feel like you are right there - and this book has that and more! You'll fall in love with Gracie and all the characters in the book. I really felt like I knew the characters personally. I can't wait to read more from Holly Weiss. I will highly recommend this book to all my friends and family.

         --Sarah Carrington rated Crestmont 5 stars on Amazon 6/2010

Crestmont is a delightful read! Holly Weiss demonstrates her refined artistic skill, capably translated from song to pen, when she layers emotion, history, and dialogue to produce a colorful story about real people in real time. I enjoyed the Native American lore appearing at the start and occasionally throughout, which helps underscore a unique foundation for the Crestmont's setting and the charm the lake cast over summertime visitors for so many years.

Holly casts her characters' experiences in unforgettable vignettes. In one example, Gracie, the main character, cleans the snow off the roof to prevent the hotel from caving in. Simply put, the episode seems common enough, but in Gracie's struggle and her friend's efforts to assist her the reader is caught up in a moment of high drama. Is the snow too deep to move? Will Gracie fall out of the window? Can they accomplish the huge task given the extreme cold and wind? With careful detail, Holly writes to bring the reader into each nook and cranny of the glorious hotel and its characters lives...  it is clear that the Crestmont was the perfect setting for reality to set in for Gracie and for her to find her way into a full life.
  --Janet Furness, PhD, reviewed Crestmont on Goodreads

 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. 
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the story and all of the characters… this book was delightful.”

--Kay Wilson, Eagles Mere resident May 24,2010

Ms. Weiss has created a vividly detailed picture of the life of a young courageous woman, Gracie, who after answering a want ad will leave her home and family to make a life of her own. Luckily, her new employers own a beautiful Inn and she becomes part of the "family" at Crestmont. The story takes you into the gracious era of the 1920's, introduces you to the difficulties that Gracie faced in her daily life working at the Crestmont Inn until she matures into a beautiful young woman with her own children.

The vivid characters, the Inn's history and the family who owned it help to mold Gracie's character as she matures into womanhood. This reader especially enjoyed the famous opera singer who visited the Inn to perform. For the short time she was there, she mentored Gracie and coached her with her singing.

I highly recommend this novel! It made this reader wish it continued!
Linda Leonard rated Crestmont 5 stars on
www.Amazon.com 5/22/2010

 “… a vividly detailed picture of the life of a young courageous woman, Gracie, who after answering a want ad will leave her home and family to make a life of her own. The story takes you into the gracious era of the 1920's…the vivid characters, the Inn's history and the family who owned it help to mold Gracie's character as she matures into womanhood. This reader especially enjoyed the famous opera singer who visited the Inn to perform. For the short time she was there, she mentored Gracie and coached her with her singing. I highly recommend this novel! It made this reader wish it continued!”
 
“The author creates a beautifully realistic world of the hustle and bustle at a busy inn in the 1920s. Ms Weiss' descriptions of life in the `20's are accurate and vivid. Eagles Mere became my town and the Crestmont became my home. In some places, as I was reading, I chuckled to myself, and in a few places I had a lump in my throat. I missed everyone and every place when I closed the book. I highly recommend it, it made this reader wish it continued!” —Giselle, www.Goodreads.com reviewer 5/27/2010
 
4 star review on Amazon.com
Charming and delightful, a pleasure to read.
 
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, giving the book a truly small town feel with a get away to dream of. 
 
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. It is a pleasure to read.
  - - Reviewed on 06/23/2010 by ReviewTheBook.com Member Tiffany Schlarman
 
Four years ago, Holly Weiss, a music teacher and former opera singer, stayed at the Crestmont in Eagles Mere. She was captivated by the peaceful ambiance of today’s Inn and by the rich history of the founder and previous owners. So she wrote a book about them, filling out the known facts with fictionalized motivations and relationships.
After briefly sketching the Native American legend about the creation of the unique spring-fed lake from the tears of the mourning Great Spirit, Weiss re-creates the inspiration of William Warner, a visitor from Germantown who saw a challenge in the cyclone ravaged hill-top overlooking the crystal clear lake. Warner…planned the Crestmont and hired two hundred carpenters to complete it in a year’s time. It was to be the very best in accommodations and in service…According to Weiss’ fictionalized time-line, when Warner’s health deteriorated slightly more than a decade after the opening, his daughter, Margaret Woods and her husband, William, continued his legacy of outstanding hospitality…
 But I get ahead of myself. The…running of the legendary Crestmont is only the background for a moving story of Gracie Antes, a young girl trying to find her place in the world outside her repressive family upbringing in Moravian Bethlehem. She could sing. She knew it, even if nobody else did. But she needed money to follow her dream of singing in the Vaudeville circuit. So she answered an ad for summer employment at the Crestmont in Eagles Mere…Gracie grew from a shy, young dreamer with a pocket full of words she needed to look up and a notebook nowhere near full of the names of the friends she made, to an assured young woman who found her family and place in Eagles Mere, where she discovered singing was only one of her many talents.
Even more compelling for me was the character development of Margaret Woods, who was drowning in her father’s legacy of outstanding service to their clientele. She never took time for herself and didn’t discover until long after his death that her father had found a retreat in an attic hideaway. That he needed respite from his responsibilities too
The book is filled with just enough other characters to welcome you into their world: PT, the young manager of the Inn’s bowling alley (and all around go-fer) who escapes his murky past by pouring himself into his piano jazz; Dorothy, a teacher who leaves her classroom to wait on the pampered rich and oversee the young staff; Bessie, an angry housemaid who hides her hurt under her anger; Mrs. Cunningham, an elderly blind lady who needs Gracie’s help and care while providing love and understanding in return; and the most famous guest, Rosa Ponselle, an opera singer who also takes Gracie under her wing.
The author has researched her material with the same kind of thorough care that the legendary Inn provided. Her knowledge of the American culture of the “Roaring Twenties” serves her well. She liberally sprinkles references to neighboring towns and events. Her pace is leisurely and her characters lovable. Readers will feel refreshed after their vacation, reading “Crestmont.”
            —Betsy Rider, owner, Otto Bookstore, Williamsport, PA
 
“I've just started reading Crestmont and I am hooked. I love the history but am into Gracie's life. Very good reading. — Barbara Gustafson, Covenant Village of Cromwell
 
“I liked what I read.  Her writing puts pictures in my head!!!”
            —Wayne Richmond, Director of Music and Organist
Haddonfield Methodist Church, Haddonfield, New Jersey
 
“If you have an affection for historic buildings, you will love Crestmont. Holly Weiss, in her debut novel, brings not only the people of the Crestmont Inn to life, but breathes life into the buildings and grounds. A delight for history lovers everywhere.”
Janet Elaine Smith, author of best-selling Dunnottar
Excerpt
En route to Eagles Mere - 1925

People buzzed around the Allentown train station the next day, stopping only to check departure times or to collect their children and suitcases. Gracie bought her ticket, hurriedly counting the rest of the money in her purse. Selecting a magazine called Time from the newsstand next to the ticket counter she leafed through it, lingering over an article about President Coolidge.
“Watch it, Missy,” growled a man pushing a huge steamer trunk on a dolly. She jumped out of the way and hastily handed the vendor the money for the magazine and a Milky Way candy bar. Thinking she might feel less overwhelmed outside the station, she checked the board for the departing platform for the Wilkes-Barre train and dodged her way out of the terminal.
On the platform, people were crammed into each available seat, but quickly rose to board when the train to Philadelphia was announced. Gracie sat down alone, set her red suitcase between her legs, and wolfed down the candy bar. She glanced distractedly at the cover of the magazine, realizing she hated the news and politics, but instructed herself to read it on the train to Wilkes-Barre so she could be better informed.
Ducking her head nervously when people filtered in to catch the next train, Gracie spied a book someone had abandoned called Sister Carrie. Quickly, she snatched if off the bench and browsed through it. The main character was a girl who wanted to go to Chicago and be a famous actress. Excited now that she had a friend with a similar goal to keep her company; she put it in her suitcase just as the conductor called “All aboard!” Nervously climbing the steep steps onto the train, she settled into a brown leather seat and opened the Time magazine. She tried to read, but remorse gnawed at her concentration like a woodpecker hammering her skull.
“Ne-e-xt stop, Wilkes Ba-a-are.” Clutching her red suitcase, Gracie stepped off the train with an unsettling combination of anticipation and fear. After consulting a man in a maroon uniform with a name tag on his breast pocket, she found the east entrance of the train station where she was to meet the Crestmont car. The clock on the wall said 10:45. Sitting on a bench in the sun, she nervously paged through her magazine while she waited.
A huge black Buick Touring Car pulled up to the curb with “The Crestmont Inn” painted on the side in yellow letters. A spindly man in his mid twenties climbed out. He was impeccably dressed in gray and black pinstriped trousers and a gray jacket. Gracie guessed the yellow of his tie had been chosen to match the lettering on the car. He was so skinny that she giggled, imagining herself pushing him over with one finger. He had a very prominent Adam’s apple, a broad forehead and a face that narrowed into a pointy chin.
Waving to someone behind her on the tracks, he shouted, “Dorothy, still keeping those students of yours in line?” His wide smile made Gracie relax a bit.
Shyly, she stepped forward. “Hello, my name is Gracie Antes. Is this the shuttle to the Crestmont Inn?”
“You must be the new girl.” He stuck out a bony hand. “I’m PT, driver, bowling alley attendant and gofer for Mr. Woods, Crestmont’s owner. Hop in.”
“Well, I don’t know. I mean, my interview is this afternoon. Will we make it on time?”
“Yup.” Feeling like she had been given an order, Gracie slid into the middle seat of the car.
The generously proportioned middle-aged woman he had called Dorothy ran from the platform to the car, straw hat flopping, struggling with a suitcase and hatbox. She threw her free arm around PT and kissed him loudly on the cheek. “Oh, my word, if it isn’t PT. Isn’t it a long time between summers?” He stashed her suitcase in the trunk along with Gracie’s, and Dorothy slid into the passenger seat in the front.
A sickeningly sweet odor of roses filled the car. Gracie discretely wound her window down a few inches to let in some air.
“I nearly missed my trolley to the station. Dear me, I am just neither here nor there without my car. I need to pick it up next week, PT, so I’ll be shuttling back here with you. Hello, there, dear,” she said, extending a hand back to Gracie. “I’m Dorothy, one of the antique waitresses.”
“Pleased to meet you, ma’am. I’m Gracie Antes.”
“Oh, please don’t ma’am me. My students do it all year and it makes me feel old. I need my Crestmont summers to liven up these forty-five-year-old bones. Call me Dorothy. Whew, it certainly is hot enough. Oh look, there’s Isaiah and Olivia. Yoohoo!” She beckoned to them from the car window. “All aboard the Crestmont shuttle.”
A burly man with skin like coal and big apple cheeks protectively ushered a dainty woman with copper skin into the car. The woman’s elegance and quiet nature made Gracie like her immediately.
“Guess that’s it for this run,” PT said, starting the engine.
After they introduced themselves, Isaiah pounded Gracie on the back and said, “One big happy family, right, Olivia?” He drew the palm of his wife’s tiny hand to his lips and kissed it. Sniffing suspiciously, he wrinkled his nose. “Lord Almighty, Dorothy, I hate that roses stink stuff you wear. Don’t you bring that smell into my kitchen, hear?”
“It’s imported Ashes of Roses eau de cologne, Isaiah,” she corrected him. “It was Lawrence’s favorite, bless my dear husband’s soul, and as long as Sears carries it, I will continue to wear it. And as far as your kitchen goes, there are so many aromas floating about no one will notice a little perfume. Besides, Mrs. Swett loves it and says so each summer when she hands me a fine tip.”
“I don’t know how you can be so hotsy-totsy to those old biddies in the dining room. They act like they run the place instead of Mr. Woods. You are crazy to take those tables near the lakeside windows, Dorothy. Why, you have to deal with all three of them at once, plus two husbands. Who’s that one always feeling like she’s sick—Mrs. Pennyswoon?”
“Mrs. Pennington, Isaiah. Be kind, now,” Olivia said softly, with a slight accent Gracie couldn’t identify.
“First of all, Isaiah,” Dorothy instructed, “if you ever stepped out of your kitchen you would see that the west window tables afford a commanding view of the lake and are therefore reserved for our, shall we say, more faithful, well-to-do guests. Secondly, Mrs. Woods has graciously assigned them to me because she feels I have the maturity and skills to mitigate some of their outlandish behavior.”
“Hey, PT,” Isaiah chuckled, “translate, please.”
“Dorothy is good at keeping the Rude Regals in line, so Mrs. Woods gives her the tables where she gets really great tips.”
“Thanks, pal,” said Isaiah.
“Oh, my word, I simply am beside myself when I hear people call them the Rude Regals. They are people with problems, just like you and me. Mrs. Pennington’s ailments are an indication that she needs some attention. Miss Woodford simply feels she is of a higher station than anyone else. If I can show some special attention or give deference to make someone happy, then I will do it. Besides, I find it a challenge to use my people skills on a higher level with the adults at the Crestmont than with my elementary students.”
The more everyone else talked, the more Gracie knew it would take some doing to feel like she fit in. Her stomach grumbled, and she wished she had bought more than a candy bar for lunch. The clouds she watched from her window glided like wavy streamers in the sky. As they motored toward the Crestmont, her eyes got heavy. Realizing that she would need a lot more energy before the day was over; she turned her head toward the window and tried to sleep. “Dear God,” she prayed, “Please make this be all right. If I was wrong to do it, then turn it for good.”
After a long drive, PT slowed the car when they passed through stone pillars on either side of the Crestmont driveway. They ascended a steep hill to an immense three-story brown building with yellow awnings. PT parked the car. Gracie stood nervously by while the others grabbed their luggage and dashed off in a flash, saying, “See you soon!”
“Come on, I’ll show you to Mr. Woods’ office,” PT said, lifting Gracie’s suitcase out of the trunk. Gracie took in the immensity of the porch as they walked up the center steps. Once they were inside the striking lobby area, PT pointed to a huge grandfather clock. “That’s my favorite. Name’s Old Tim,” he explained. “Mrs. Woods’ father had it shipped from England when he built the place.”
Gracie’s heart started to flutter. Oh, honestly, what had she gotten herself into? She tried not to trip over her own feet.
PT knocked on an office door, flicked his eyes toward it and said, “They’re swell people. Good luck.”
“Come in!” called a high-pitched, authoritative male voice.





Professional Reviews

Feathered Quill
Have you ever wished for a comfy, old-fashioned inn where the staff attends to your every need, there’s a nearby lake where eagles soar, and each night there’s a fabulous home cooked meal waiting for you? That special place is within the pages of Crestmont, the debut novel of Holly Weiss.

In the Author’s Note, Weiss acknowledges that she was inspired to write this book after staying at the real Crestmont Inn in 2006. Many of the characters are based on real people, although their “…characterizations…are wholly the author’s creation.”
With extensive attention to detail, the author creates a beautifully realistic world of the hustle and bustle at a busy inn in the 1920s. There is plenty within the pages of Crestmont to keep the reader interested. Indeed, by the end of the book, Gracie, Mrs. Cunningham, PT and the others are like family members and the reader will want to see what happens to each. Crestmont is a study of relationships...it’s a story of intersecting lives.

Quill says: Reading Crestmont is like staying at a quaint old inn, curling up next to the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and an old friend and catching up on the day’s events.


Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (05/10)
Books are one of the best and most affordable ways to escape the drudgery of the all-too-well-known details and predictability of our own lives. “Crestmont” by Holly Weiss was an escape of the best kind, where the reader is glad to be able to get away to a different place and time, but also delighted to return back to their own after having finished it. Well, let me rephrase this just a tad. This reader was delighted to return to her own world after having finished reading the book, but saddened that the book was over and definitely hungry for more of the story.
Grace Antes, a young girl in her twenties, decides to leave her rather unhappy home and make her way to the big city. She wishes to pursue a singing career, but she is realistic enough to recognize her need for more funds before trying her luck in the big city, so she accepts a job as a housemaid in the very busy Crestmont Inn, situated at Eagles Mere in Pennsylvania. There she encounters not only a cast of uniquely wonderful characters, but also acquires a new family and a new understanding of herself. Gracie, as she decides to call herself, is both refreshingly naïve and charmingly eager to learn; and she lets no opportunity to acquire new insights pass her by. “Crestmont” describes daily life at a large inn in wonderful detail, and Ms. Weiss brings an army of characters to life in vivid colors (and sounds!). With a cast this colorful and charming, it would be impossible to pick out a favorite. Would it be the wise and patient Isaiah, the talented chef, or his charming and insightful wife Olivia, the dressmaker? The dashing PT, a man with great talent for music and decidedly checkered past? The woefully overworked, but always considerate, Mr. and Mrs. Woods, the owners of Crestmont? Their two charming daughters? The famous opera singer, Rosa Ponselle, who does not find it difficult to be kind to those less fortunate? The list goes on and on, and I have to admit I found each and every one of the characters lively and intricate. Another item that I simply have to mention – the poems by the “Paperbag Poet.” While I do not want to disclose more about them here, I would like to say how they warmed my heart.
If the story seems to lose steam now and then, maybe because there are just so many wonderful details to be told, and if the ending leaves all too many questions unanswered, it still left me wanting for more. Who in the world is Eric Sturdy and how did Gracie meet him? What happened to PT? I hope that Ms. Weiss is planning to write another book, and that she will answer those questions there. In the meanwhile, I would like to highly recommend “Crestmont” to readers who enjoy reading well researched, credible fiction and who long for slower, gentler times. They will definitely find a respite on the pages of this delightful book.


Pacific Book Review
Dainty as crochet doilies placed under a crystal bud vase next to a velvet draped curtain around a curved bay window in an old Victorian Inn, Holly Weiss transports the reader to a different, unhurried era of the early 1900’s in her masterpiece Crestmont.

With a decorous style of writing, the reader is pleasantly introduced to Grace Antes, known simply as Gracie, a young lady finding her path to her singing career being circumvented for practical reasons of needing more money. Leaving home simply by writing a note to her family, which hints to a saddened upbringing, she sees an ad in a newspaper requesting seasonal staff help at a resort hotel located in the hills of Pennsylvania, a town called Eagles Mere, the resort is the popular Crestmont. Visited by aristocrats and regular customers alike, the Crestmont is a destination for society’s rest and relaxation during the decades of yesteryear. Beautifully appointed in décor, and staffed with professionals each there for their own reasons, Gracie falls into the “click” of the pace and prestige circulating amongst the guests. Her co-workers truly become family to Gracie; they adopt her with welcoming arms seeing the hard working ethics and honesty in her, and accept her into the hotel’s culture. This is a very heartwarming aspect of the storyline, as the reader feels they also are being taken into the confidence and trust of these fine people.

In the economic days where a quarter actually was worth something, and $2 was fair daily wage, Gracie is asked to care for an elderly disabled woman, Mrs. Cunningham, as new challenges are brought forth. Working one day a week, on her day off from the Crestmont, Gracie begins a friendship that brings Mrs. Cunningham into a quasi maternal role. This caused a bit of alienation with Madeleine, her daughter, and the dynamics of this relationship play out in a surprising way.

Set in the mountain retreat, the reader gets acquainted with wonderfully unique cast of characters with “character” – such as her co-worker Bessie who isn’t so keen on Gracie, and Mr. and Mrs. Woods, the proprietors. You have the husband and wife workers, Isaiah the hotel chef and Olivia a seamstress. A dapper young man named PT who attends to many tasks and is proud to be the personal gofer for Mr. Woods. Guests include the flamboyant and famous Rosa Ponselle, an opera singer with a unique kindness. As the reader is taken on the exploits of these marvelous interactions, one feels the relaxed pace, the isolation of a luxury retreat atmosphere and the sense of the times, culture and mannerisms in fantastic detail. The book pages like a period piece with every detail researched for accuracy, consistency and credibility.

Just as traveling to the fresh air of the mountain hotel would have taken time for a person to get there, the book takes time for the reader to “get there” as well. Once “there” you find yourself transported to a place, amongst friends, enjoying a summer holiday in Victorian style, and in a place that unfortunately nowadays can exist only in one’s imagination. The Crestmont is a splendid work of fiction written by a once guest of the hotel, Holly Weiss, while she was looking at the furnishings, observing the details of the building and the grounds, and wondering just what types of people constituted its clientele. As Holly Weiss would close her eyes to think, her written words open our eyes to this splendid place in time.
-Reviewed by Beth Adams


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Reader Reviews for "Crestmont"

Reviewed by Holly Weiss 5/18/2010
P. Rohm posted on Amazon and BN 5/17/2010
Holly writes with such vivid detail that you literally feel you are part of the characters lives. I was sad when I turned the last page, I will miss each of the people I came to know. Her attention to historical facts and the way they are woven into the story add such flavor to the book. This may be her first book but you will find yourself wishing there was already a second!
Reviewed by Ernest Whitehosue 5/9/2010
Crestmont is not to be missed. Holly Weiss’ choice of the name Grace for her protagonist is as prophetic as it is descriptive. The best word I can think of to describe Grace/Gracie is chainik (Russian for a beginner who’s willing to learn). As Grace morphs into Gracie, she becomes a lovable, enchanting mature young woman.
The Woods family comes alive and becomes your family under the author’s pen. Mr. Woods is the energetic visionary and Margaret is his Rock of Gibraltar. The two grow together and grow with Gracie over the years of the novel.
Most of the characters encounter problems and setbacks, but perseverance and sheer pluck see them through. You’ll meet PT, the enigmatic fellow who plays the jazz piano, Isaiah the wonderful black chef and his petite wife, Olivia, the dressmaker. Oh! And Eleanor, one of the Wood’s daughters—she’s a pistol!
Ms Weiss’ descriptions of life in the ‘20’s are accurate and vivid. Eagles Mere became my town and the Crestmont became my home. In some places, as I was reading, I chuckled to myself, and in a few places I had a lump in my throat. I missed everyone and every place when I closed the book.
Don’t miss the Author’s notes and the afterword. They put a nice frame around the book--even a few interesting tidbits there as well.

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