Newburyport novelist refutes California dreaming

Meg Mitchell Moore has three daughters, none of whom are at the point of applying to college. So where did she get the inspiration for her third novel, “The Admissions?”


“It’s such a different world as far as what people are willing to do to get a house in the right town” and their children in the right school, said Moore, who lived on the West Coast for a year before returning to Newburyport with her husband and kids.

“This is very laid back, let me tell you,” she said of this area.

“The Admissions,” published this month by Doubleday, is about a seemingly perfect California family: parents with great jobs, a home in an affluent neighborhood, and three accomplished kids.


But when the oldest daughter sets her sights on Harvard, her father’s alma mater, it puts pressure on everyone, with each facing a challenge as the family unravels.

The book already has gotten rave reviews. “ ‘The Admissions’ is a smart, hilarious, compelling novel about college applications, suburban scandals, and risky secrets. I couldn’t stop reading,” said fellow author Jennifer Close.

The book also was recently featured in People magazine as a “great beach read.”

Moore, 43, graduated from Providence College with a degree in English in 1994 and earned a graduate degree in English literature from New York University in 1996.

She was considering going for a doctorate but then decided, “I didn’t want to write what no one was going to read.”

Moore moved to Boston and began editing, then writing, for a group of technology magazines. She later freelanced.

After she and her husband moved to Vermont for his job, and she was pregnant with her second daughter, (the girls are now 12, 10, and 8) she was accepted into the prestigious Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference at Middlebury College.


“It was a turning point for me,” she said. “I knew I needed to write fiction.”

Her debut novel, “The Arrivals,” was published in 2011 and her second, “So Far Away,” came out the next year.

Her fourth novel, “The Captain’s Daughter,” set in a lobster village in Maine, is under contract.

“I feel lucky to be in this position; not everyone gets to do it,” Moore said. “You are only as good as your last book, and every book is a new challenge.”

Moore discusses “The Admissions, at Jabberwocky Bookshop, 50 Water St., Newburyport, at 7 p.m. Sept. 11. Call 978-465-9359 or visit jabberwockybookshop.com.


Wendy Killeen can be reached at wdkilleen@gmail.com.