I have always enjoyed writing and my oldest friend swears that I had repeatedly vowed to write a book someday. I had no clue back then what I wanted to write about and honestly? At the age of fourteen, I probably had very little to say. A family trip to Sedona, AZ is what finally inspired me to write Jeep Tour and make good on that promise I had made decades earlier. Three more books followed before I made the leap from contemporary to historical fiction.
Before I began writing Landscape of a Marriage, I knew relatively little about my husband’s distant cousin, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903). My family and I had visited a number of the public parks he designed, including Central Park in Manhattan, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the parks comprising Boston’s Emerald Necklace and, of course, Forest Park in Springfield. I found myself wanting to know more about this man and once I learned that his wife of 44 years was his former-sister in law Mary, their marriage became the focal point of my book.
The story begins in New York in 1858. Mary Perkins Olmsted is a young widow with three children when she marries her brother-in-law Frederick Law Olmsted. Acting on his late brother’s deathbed plea to “not let Mary suffer,” Fred offered to wed Mary and adopt her children. But she craves more than a marriage of convenience, and is determined to reform the lifelong bachelor and live a life filled with both passion and purpose. Mary sets out to win her husband’s love, and ultimately joins him on his quest to create a ‘beating green heart’ in the center of every urban space, beginning with the iconic Central Park in New York City.
Over the next 40 years, Olmsted’s love of Mary and their growing family inspires him to create dozens of city parks, private estates and public spaces. Based upon real people and true events, Landscape is a work of fiction, detailing Mary’s journey and personal growth, as well as portraying the challenges inherent in loving a brilliant and ambitious man.
I am thrilled to bring Fred and Mary’s love story to life. Landscape will be published by Black Rose Writing this summer. It will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in both print and electronic formats, and hopefully an audiobook will be next. For updates on Landscape, including a cover reveal, check out www.blackrosewriting.com or my website www.GailOlmsted.com.
One last note: 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of Olmsted’s birth and the National Association for Olmsted Parks is planning a series of events all around the country to celebrate and explore the legacy of him and his family. Check out www.olmsted.org/outreach/olmsted-200 for more.