Arts & Entertainment

Elisabeth Egan Discusses Writing, a South Orange Childhood, and Her Novel 'A Window Opens' at the South Orange Library

Nancy Janow (left) and Elisabeth Egan (right).
Nancy Janow (right) and Elisabeth Egan (left).
Nancy Janow introduces author Elisabeth Egan at the South Orange Library Book Review Group meeting.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Monday night was a special one for the South Orange Library Book Review Group, which was joined by local author Elisabeth Egan, who read from and discussed her first novel, "A Window Opens."

Approximately 50 people were in attendance, more than the 20-25 people who join the book club on a usual week, according to Nancy Janow, Senior Library Assistant and Head of the South Orange Library Book Club.

Egan, who grew-up in South Orange and now lives in Montclair, shared with the audience her memories from many hours spent at the South Orange Public Library as a child. Egan told the crowd that her family moved to South Orange when she was nine, and that the very first place they went to was the library. Egan recalled that the library cards were "these little orange cards with a metal plate in the middle."

Sign Up for E-News

"A Window Opens" looks at the themes of having it all and balancing work and family, as the book's heroine Alice Pearce pursues the "Holy Grail of working mothers—an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life." 

The book takes place in the fictional New Jersey town of Filament, which is loosely based on Montclair. The inspiration for the name Filament, Egan explained, came from her numerous trips to Edison's laboratory in West Orange as a child.
Egan describes "A Window Opens" as a "middle age coming of age story," and shared her belief that you can always make a major change or try something new, no matter your age or stage in life.
The book's first draft was written during a single summer while Egan waited for her daughter to complete daily 2-hour swim team practices each morning. Egan said that the first draft of the book came fairly easily, but the process from draft to completed novel was more difficult, with the final version of the book vastly different from the original version.

Egan also said that finding a publisher was not easy, and that she received 26 rejections before making rewrites that resulted in the book being picked-up by one of the publishers that had previously rejected it.
Egan described her family as "very bookish... there was nothing to do but read." Not surprisingly, in addition to being a writer, Egan is also the books editor at Glamour magazine.
It was during commutes to her day job that Egan completed much of the book aboard NJ Transit, which even gets a mention in the book's acknowledgments. Egan writes "thank you to the commuters and conductors on the Montclair-Boonton Line, where most of this book was written. Some writers have Yaddo or MacDowell; I have New Jersey Transit, whose horns are the soundtrack of home." Egan noted, that this must be the first time New Jersey Transit has been thanked in a book, and yet, "they weren't very moved."
Despite New Jersey Transit's indifference, Egan continues to write on the train during her commute. She is working on her next book, which focuses on different characters and themes, but also takes place in Filament, NJ.
For more information about the South Orange Library Book Review Group, contact Nancy Janow at 973-762-0230 or email her at Meetings are free and all are welcome to attend. Meetings are on the fourth Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Library Meeting Room.
The next author appearance is on April 25, when P. Golden will be there to discuss "Wherever There Is Light."

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Of Dull Elections, Pool Waivers and Vandalism

After a historic Township Committee election in 2017 that brought us the first openly gay member of the TC, and then a split vote for mayor in which Vic DeLuca retained his post in a last-minute surprise, 2018 could prove to be the dullest campaign in years.

That’s because incumbents Nancy Adams and Greg Lembrich are running unopposed in the upcoming Democratic primary, and no one is ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 14

On this week’s AtlantiCast, an internationally recognized orthopedic oncologist takes a leadership role at Atlantic Health System, see the newest weapon in the fight against HPV-related cancers, Atlantic Health System leads the Castle Connolly / Inside Jersey Rankings, and much more!


South Orange Police Blotter - Three Arrests Reported

April 12, 2018

South Orange Police Blotter as of April 12

Adult Arrest - Sean Carr, a 30 year old West Orange resident, was arrested on Saturday, April 7, at approximately 10:30 a.m. for attempted auto theft. Officers responded to the Cleanway Car Wash on Irvington Avenue where employees had a subject detained (Carr) who had just tried to steal a vehicle from the car wash. Officers arrested Carr and ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Early Morning Auto Theft Reported

March 29, 2018; Shoplifting; At approximately 11:45 p.m., a male took Red Bull from the 7-11 on Irvington Avenue and fled without paying.

March 31, 2018; Thefts from Autos; During the overnight hours an unsecured vehicle on Hillcrest Road and an unsecured vehicle on Inwood Place were entered. Electronics and other items were taken.

March 31, 2018; Auto theft; At ...

41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance Held on Sunday

April 19, 2018

MAPLEWOOD AND SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The 41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance was held on Sunday, April 15. The march assembled in Spiotta Park on Maplewood Avenue in Maplewood, and was called to order with the blowing of the shofar.

Local elected officials who attended included Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca, Maplewood Township Committee member Dean Dafis, and ...

Water Main Break on Baker Street in Maplewood Wednesday Morning

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Shortly after 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Maplewood police reported receiving a call from a commuter on his way to work who noticed a small geyser of water in front of 34 Baker St., next to the driveway to the Maplewood Country Club. 

According to Maplewood police, they requested assistance from New Jersey American Water to shut off the water, but as of 7:10 a.m., ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, April 19, 7:00 PM

Restaurant K at Orange Lawn Tennis Club, South Orange

Hank Zona: An Evening of Spanish Wine & Tapas

Food & Drink


Fri, April 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink


Fri, April 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Sat, April 21, 10:00 AM

Maplewood Memorial Library, Maplewood

Spring Book Sale - Friends of Maplewood Library

Education Giving Back Other

Kiburi Tucker Sentenced to 38 Months in Federal Prison

April 19, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Kiburi Tucker, a longtime friend of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the business partner of a Newark woman who admitted to tax evasion last year, was sentenced today to more than three years in prison for wire fraud and tax evasion, federal authorities announced. 

Kiburi D. Tucker, 43, of Newark, pleaded guilty in November before Chief U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares after ...

Meet Kendra Johnson, Montclair's First African-American Superintendent

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Kendra V. Johnson, J.D., Ph.D., has been selected as Montclair’s permanent Superintendent of schools after an extensive search, the Montclair Board of Education announced at a special meeting on April 11. She is the district’s first permanent superintendent in three years, and the first African-American superintendent in its 144-year ...

Atlantic Health Among Six Regional Health Systems Forming Clinical Research Consortium

April 18, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Seeking to bring clinical trials and innovations in medicine even closer to home, Atlantic Health System, parent company of Summit's Overlook Medical Center, is now part of a group of six regional health systems that are founding members of a nonprofit clinical research consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research (PIER Consortium) ...

Summit's Central Church, Willis Mission Fund Award $20,000 Grant to Bridges Outreach

SUMMIT, NJ -- Bridges Outreach has been awarded a $20,000 grant to provide case management services to individuals in Newark who are experiencing homelessness by the The Lena Willis Mission Fund of Central Presbyterian Church of Summit.

The grant will provide seven individuals with access to job readiness, internships, employment and rental assistance and ultimately, independence. Each ...

South Mountain YMCA Honors Eighth Grader Who Organized Massive Food and Clothes Drive

April 19, 2018

A trip to Manhattan with the South Mountain YMCA shaped Daniel Goldsmith’s life. “As we headed toward Bryant Park, I saw a homeless man lying under some scaffolding, and I remember he had a sign saying `Please give me money … I am starving.’ ”

The experience moved Goldsmith to action: For his Eagle Scout project, the South Orange Middle School eighth grader ...

Pitch Perfect: Top 10 A Cappella Group Comes to Millburn

Millburn High graduate Samuel Dantowitz is bringing his award-winning a cappella group home for an evening of music. Northeast ICCA Champions, Upper Structure, will be holding a concert Thursday, April 19. Newark Academy's a cappella group LumeNAtion will open the show. The concert will take place in Christ Church at 7 p.m. 66 Highland Ave, Short Hills, NJ 07078. Tickets are $15 adult / $10 ...

Maplewood Philanthropist Receives Metro YMCA Award for Social Responsibility

What longtime Maplewood resident Tom Kerns remembers keenly from the four months his wife underwent radical spinal surgery and rehabilitation in 2006 is the outpouring of support from the community. People they knew — and many they didn’t — offered to make meals, drive their daughters to activities, and do whatever else the family needed, just as they’d done after ...