NEW KDHamptons Featured Summer Read: The Runaway Wife, by Elizabeth Birkelund



East Hampton author  Elizabeth Birkelund has written her second novel, The Runaway Wife [Harper Collins], a poetic story of adventure and survival, romance and self-discovery, that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through the rugged, demanding terrain of the Alps − and into the more subtle landscape of the human heart. Far more than a simple summer romance, The Runaway Wife reminds us that adults, too, need quality time away from the grind of their usual lives. Time to drink in the little things and ponder bigger questions about our lives and our dreams.  It also sheds light on the constraints that high society’s trappings place on people’s identities and souls.


Birkelund calls New York City home, but returns to East Hampton each summer, “I first arrived in Paradise when I was ten years old. My parents, my three sisters and I had recently moved to NYC, and to escape the heat wave that summer, we rented a house on the corner of Hedges Lane and Town Line Road in Bridgehampton.” Birkelund shares her love affair with the East End, below…

RunawayWife pb c(1)

KDHamptons: Share a nostalgic childhood memory of the Hamptons?
Elizabeth Birkelund:  I have two actually!  I fell in love with the beach, with the humid, breezy days, with the relaxed feeling that I felt in my parents, and consequently, myself. My mother was and is an artist. She would paint during the day, and in the afternoon, we would go with her to Southampton, where she would talk to people in the stores there about hanging her artwork. We had to be so careful not to knock anything over. Those were the days when my grandmother came to visit for weeks. She was rereading Antonia Fraser’s “Mary Queen of Scotts,” and while she taught us how to kneed and bake bread, she regaled us with stories about the territorial English queens of the 16th century. We had many big picnics at the beach and spent the afternoons reading.


At night, my father would read Sherlock Holmes stories to us and “Watership Down” by Richard Adams. We were all mesmerized. My older sister and I rode bikes past dogs that bit our heels to Topping, where we took riding lessons from a teacher who yelled at us and who wouldn’t let us graduate from the posting trot until many summers later. The horse I rode and adored was named Caspian. We came out the next few summers and intermittently after that and many years later, with my own family, we rented houses during summers so that my kids could experience the same feelings that I did of of getting away from everything and experiencing freedom.

Coopers Beach

KDHamptons: What’s your favorite thing to do out East?
Elizabeth Birkeland: GO TO THE BEACH. There’s no where in the world like the Hampton beaches in my experience! There’s no other place where the sound of the waves can force you into meditation, where the sight of them lulls you into the feeling of the eternal! I feel authentic, free and blissful when I am at the beach.

Resting Gullsat Dusk, Coopers B each Impressions© Dan Jones

KDHamptons: Does the Hamptons play a role in your writing?
Elizabeth Birkelund: One of my sisters says that inhaling the Long Island air, filled with the salt water makes for heightened creativity. It’s the heavy dose of iodine in the air. I don’t know if this is true for all, but I feel it may be for me. When I am here, I am able to push away distractions and focus on my writing. I can almost feel the creative hearts and spirits that were here before me! The East End inspires creativity. It continues to play a huge role in my writing. One day, I will set a novel here!