Local author Ashley Prentice Norton stopped at her favorite bookstore in East Hampton last Saturday, to read from her fearless first novel, The Chocolate Money. It’s a story about a daughter's fraught relationship with her dysfunctional, tyrannical, and very wealthy mother. Though the book is very much not a memoir, Norton said she wanted to explore the phenomenon of rich families in America through the lens of her own "unorthodox" upbringing, and what a story she's told! By turns funny, frightening, and transgressive, Norton has probed to the heart of her complex cast of characters with insight and empathy.
The novel itself has had quite an interesting life: originally excerpted in Town & Country Magazine—the first fiction to be published in that magazine since Brideshead Revisited—and accompanied by a magazine-directed photoshoot that netted the author offers to appear in The Real Housewives of New York City, the book went on to receive featured reviews in People and Oprah Magazine.
Norton developed the idea while taking a supplemental novel writing course at the YMCA—she's a graduate of New York University's Creative Writing MFA program—and her first agent was none other than Bill Clegg, the author of the addiction and recovery memoirs Portrait of the Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days.
From its humble beginnings as a manuscript scribbled in the East Hampton library to its two-year journey to publication, The Chocolate Money is the result of Norton's unyielding commitment to her craft. And fans rejoice: her next novel is on the way!