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In the Shadow of the Greenbrier

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Four generations. One remarkable hotel. Countless secrets.

Nestled in the hills of West Virginia lies White Sulphur Springs, home to the Greenbrier Resort. Long a playground for presidents and film stars, the Greenbrier has its own gravitational pull. Over ten decades, four generations of the Zelner family must grapple with their place in its shadow . . . and within their own family.

In 1942, young mother Sylvia is desperate to escape her stifling marriage, especially when it means co-running Zelner’s general store with her husband. When the Greenbrier is commandeered for use as a luxury prison, Sylvia finds her fidelity strained and her heart on the line.

Seventeen years later, Sylvia’s daughter, Doree, struggles to fit in, eagerly awaiting the day she’ll leave for college and meet a nice Jewish boy. But when a handsome stranger comes to town and her brother Alan’s curiosity puts him and Sylvia at risk, Doree is torn between loyalty and desire.

An immersive family saga rich with historical detail, In the Shadow of the Greenbrier explores the inevitable clash between past and future and the extraordinary moments in ordinary lives.
Chapter 1

Jordan

Washington, DC

January 1992

When the letter arrived, Jordan Barber was sitting at his desk eyeing the cuffs of his chinos, wondering if he could hem them with a stapler. If he did it from the inside out, maybe the little folded silver legs of the staples would look like fancy stitching.

A minute before, Rick Lowell from the National News desk had walked by and made a wisecrack about Jordan wearing his dad's clothes. Jordan wanted to shoot back that he was actually taller than his dad, but even he knew this was not the right way to do newsroom banter. So he just stared down at his feet, noticing how the pants puddled around the tops of his brown wingtips, which had felt so sharp when his mom bought them at Hecht's the month before but now seemed too shiny, as if announcing "I'm brand-new."

All the top reporters at the Post-the ones whose names appeared above the fold, who talked about having drinks "at Ben's," who'd flown on Air Force One-dressed like they'd slept at their desks all night: rumpled oxford shirts, loafers worn down to the color and texture of cardboard. Nobody else's shoes were shiny. No one else ironed their chinos.

Maybe Scotch Tape would work better than a stapler? Or masking tape? Jordan began rummaging in his desk drawer.

Just then, the mail cart clattered through, pushed by Alice the intern, who wore a plaid headband and a thousand-yard stare. She tossed a letter on Jordan's desk without turning her head.

"Thanks!" Jordan called, but Alice didn't look back.

He looked down at the letter.

Jordan Barber

Local and Regional News Desk

The Washington Post

Weird. He'd only been at the desk for four months, and he'd never had a letter personally addressed to him before. He was about to tear it open when he remembered his letter opener, the one his granddad had given him for college graduation. He plucked it from the University of Maryland mug where he kept his pens. It was brass and felt good in his hand, cool and heavy and professional. He slid it under the letter's flap, noting the West Virginia postmark. Unfolding the paper, he began to read. Then his eyes caught a name, and he stopped.

The Greenbrier.

The words sounded like a gong somewhere deep and primal in his brain, sound waves rippling outward. The Greenbrier.

There's something underneath the Greenbrier Resort, the letter read. It's time for people to know.

His mother had rarely referred to it as "the Greenbrier." It was simply "the resort."

Other children were told bedtime stories about princes or talking bunnies or teddy bear picnics. Jordan and his twin sister had been raised on tales of the Greenbrier: The green hotel Rolls-Royces that used to meet the trains. The movie stars hanging out by the pool. The doormen who all knew their mother's name, even though she was just a townie kid, not a guest. Jordan always imagined the resort as a fairy-tale castle atop a hill, with the village of White Sulphur Springs-his mother's hometown-in its shadow.

Their mother and their uncle Pete would go on and on about the annual Greenbrier employee Christmas parties-Remember that gingerbread house that was a perfect scale model of the resort? Remember the time Dewey Burdette broke Santa's throne? This would annoy Jordan's sister, since Jordan and Jessica were never allowed to so much as watch a Christmas movie. (That's how assimilation starts, their father would say, as if there were a slippery chute from It's a Wonderful Life straight to accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.)

Yet the Greenbrier was also somehow related to the other part of their mother's life, the part she didn't talk about. The part about her mother and her other brother, Alan. About what had happened to them. There was an incident with a car. Her mother and Alan had died and it had been terribly sad. That's all Jordan's mother would say. A terribly sad incident. Everything Jordan knew was gleaned from snatches of conversation overheard late at night, when Uncle Pete was in town.

He couldn't leave it alone. All that blood.

Their mother wouldn't tell them more. If Jessica pressed, Mom would sigh and turn away and let her eyes fill with tears.

Jordan never pressed. He hated to be the One Who Made His Mother Cry. But he did imagine. He pictured long, snouty, sinister cars full of anti-Semites, of course-as a child he misheard the word (ant-i-Semites), and imagined enormous ants, with shiny dark carapace-like armor.

Now a stranger was offering information about this black hole at the center of his childhood. Not only that, but the stranger was offering him a story. Maybe a big story. Jordan might not have the right pants or the right shoes, but he knew how to follow a lead as well as any of the A1 guys. Maybe this would be his chance.

Chapter 2

Doree

White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

December 1958

When people heard she was from West Virginia and raised their eyebrows a little-a look that said they were thinking of tar paper shacks and toothless snake handlers and black lung-Doree wished she could walk them through the Greenbrier Resort in the winter of 1958.

In fact, she had an exact date in mind. December 13. The day of the employees' Christmas party.

The resort gleamed like a cruise ship on the horizon. The acres of lawns as pampered as a starlet's hair. The fleet of bottle-green Rolls-Royces. The dining room so big waiters used to ride horses through it. The Swiss chefs who flambeed crêpes suzette tableside, just like in Monte Carlo. The crisp G stamped in the fresh white sand of every ashtray. The massive brass lobby doors swinging open and welcoming her inside.

Doree and her younger brothers, Alan and Pete, walked west along White Sulphur Springs's stunted Main Street, stopping at the corner of Surber Road to meet Patty and Tommy Curry. Pete and Tommy raced ahead, kicking stones with the toes of their dress shoes. Alan, as usual, trailed behind.

"I love that coat!" Patty said, reaching out to pet the shoulder of Doree's new tartan cape coat. "Did your mom do that?"

Doree nodded. "I like your new hat."

"It's going to squash my hair, though," Patty said.

Arms linked, they crossed the invisible line dividing town from resort and came to the entrance gate, where the younger boys were waiting, leaning against the brick. The driveway was flanked by tall white pillars topped with Grecian urns. From each pillar hung a wrought iron lantern, and beneath the lantern, in curling script, the words The Greenbrier.

Normally, when Doree and other townies visited the Greenbrier, they'd cut across the bridge over Howard's Creek and come in the lower North Entrance. But not today.

"We get to go in the big entrance today!" called Pete. "Like the Duke of York!"

"Duke of Windsor," muttered Alan.

On they walked, past the guardhouse, waving to Mr. Sammy in his forest-green suit and cap. They passed the South Carolina Cottages on their right, with their identical American flags hanging stiffly in the cold air. The younger boys picked up sticks on the hillside and began sword fighting. Then they turned the bend in the drive, and even Pete and Tommy stopped messing around for a minute because there it was, at the head of the oval lawn, seeming to glow in the pinkening dusk.

The resort.

It was a palace as large and white and splendid as anything in their history books, sitting tall on a gentle rise in the valley floor, the dark ridgeline of the Alleghenies its backdrop. Hundreds of windows-the resort had more than seven hundred guest rooms, Alan had told her-seemed to twinkle like stars. Front and center was an immense portico in the style of a Greek temple, a single oval pane set in its pediment like an all-seeing eye. The building was surrounded by widening circles of lawns, then formal gardens, then rows of nineteenth-century gingerbread cottages, a remnant of the resort's days as the Old White, when the aristocracy of Richmond and Atlanta and Charleston would come to take the waters.

With two weeks to Christmas, the building was festooned and beribboned from bottom to top. Swags of fir branches overhung the arches of the lower arcade, while the towering white columns of the portico had been wound with golden twinkle lights. More lights glittered from the laurel trees flanking the front lawn. On the balcony was a Christmas tree lavished with tinsel and crowned with a single gold star.

Looking at the resort always gave Doree the same warm flush she got when singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Little League games. Like something bigger than her belonged to her alone. It made White Sulphur Springs different from all the little West Virginia towns clinging to the hillsides and hollows of the Alleghenies. Bluefield and Welch will be in trouble when the coal mines play out, her father always said. But we've got the Greenbrier.

At the motor entrance, the doormen stood stoic in the cold. "Young ladies, young gentlemen," said Leon, the head doorman, pulling open the heavy brass door. They stepped inside with a whoosh of warm air. It was check-in time, and the Motor Lobby was thick with smoke and perfume. Bellboys glided back and forth to the elevators with trolleys of luggage as men in flannel suits stood waiting at the front desk, rubbing the impressions of their hats from their hair, bleary from whiskey and sodas on the Chesapeake and Ohio George Washington from DC. "Now, let me tell you the thing," said a man with a Yankee accent, leaning over the concierge desk.

"Billy! Where are you, Billy?" called a woman with the face of a movie star, as a little boy in short pants stood giggling behind a potted fern.

Doree did a careful sweep of the room. You never knew who you'd see. Patty had spotted Debbie Reynolds once, sitting on the front steps in Bermuda shorts, as normal as could be. Bob Hope had been here just last summer.

"There's Mama!" called Patty.

Evangeline Curry was standing by the elevators, waving. She'd put on a green wool party dress but was still wearing her stubby-heeled brown housekeeper's shoes.

"Girls, you both look so pretty!" she said, reaching out to squeeze their arms.

Even though Doree was nearly eighteen, the Greenbrier employees' children's Christmas party was still exciting. She'd gone every year since kindergarten, thanks to Patty. Mrs. Curry was the head housekeeper at the Greenbrier, so she was allowed guest tickets. Patty and Tommy always brought Doree and Pete and Alan. Patty and Doree had been best friends since they were five; so had Tommy and Pete. And Mrs. Curry wouldn't have let Alan be left out, of course.

The group of them headed back towards the theater. Carol VanDonk, who was a classmate of Doree and Patty's, was taking tickets at the door; her father ran the resort print shop, where he set the dining room menus every day on heavy cream-colored card stock with gold embossing. The younger boys threw their coats on the table and ran into the theater, and Mrs. Curry dissolved into a group of other Greenbrier mothers. Alan hung back, waiting for Doree. "Go on, Alan," she said impatiently. Why couldn't Pete invite Alan to tag along for once? It would be nice to have just one event where he wasn't her responsibility.

"That is such a cute coat," Carol said to Doree. "I wish my mama could sew."

Patty leaned over the table and faux whispered to Carol, "Are you-know-who here yet?"

"Lee Burdette and them?" Carol said, putting the coats on hangers and hanging them from the bellboy rail. "I saw Dewey, but nobody from our year."

Lee Burdette was the captain of the basketball team and had a dirty blond pompadour and heavy-lidded blue eyes, like Elvis. He drove an old army jeep from back when the Greenbrier was a war hospital. His father, Johnny Burdette, was the resort's head groundskeeper.

"Well, when you see Lee, tell him Doree's gonna get him under the mistletoe!" Patty said.

"Y'all are too boy crazy!"

The girls went inside, Alan trailing silently behind. The gold and pink theater was set up like an indoor carnival, and it was as noisy and wild as any fair on a Saturday night. The little kids were streaming between card tables set up with games-ring toss, balloon and darts, cover the spot-or waiting in line to see Santa, their mouths slack with anticipation. At the head of the Santa line, a doorman dressed as an elf was doing card tricks. Santa himself was Jim Wiley, the assistant to the manager. His beard was made of pulled cotton balls glued to felt, but his belly was entirely real. He sat in the same gold foil throne Doree had seen every year since she was five. She'd never sat in Santa's lap, though. That would have been a step too far.

Dewey Burdette and a gaggle of freshman boys were taking turns at the Strongman, peacocking back and forth with the rubber mallet and making muscle arms when they hit the bell. The other teenagers were gathered around the refreshments table, drinking ginger ale punch and eating pinwheels and little merengue cookies tinted red and green.

"Go get something to eat, Alan," Doree told her brother. If she didn't tell him something he'd stand behind her like a shadow for the whole party. You'd think he was four, not two days from turning sixteen, she thought. "But not the pinwheels."

"Why not?"

"Ham."

"I like ham."

"Suit yourself. But don't tell Mama."

Doree and Patty filled their plates and sat down at one of the card tables on the stage with Louise Level and Patty's cousins Wanda and Annette. The room was warm from the rising heat of dozens of excited children, and Doree felt flushed in her wool skirt and sweater set. She could feel her hair, carefully styled in a ponytail with side curled bangs, beginning to wilt.

"Look," said Patty. "Lee and them are here."

Framed in the light of the open door were Lee Burdette; Vance Calwell; and Jack and Edisto Level, Louise's cousins. The starting lineup of the White Sulphur Springs High basketball team, minus Davey-John Newsome, who was probably freezing his behind off on the golf course caddying for some Yankee guest. Seeing them, Doree checked her posture and pretended to be laughing at something Louise said. Boys liked girls who smiled a lot.

"Okay, y'all," said Patty, looking around the table and raising her eyebrows wickedly. "Let's get this straight in advance. Doree's gonna marry Lee, Wanda can have Edisto, and Annette gets Vance."
"Matchar deftly weaves the four time lines together to reach a satisfying, emotionally resonant conclusion." —Booklist

"
A stirring coming-of-age tale and gripping family saga set against the backdrop of the famous and historic West Virginia resort. Readers will eagerly follow and root for the generations of the Zelner family as they struggle with their places in a changing world and come face-to-face with dark secrets of the past in this memorable and moving book.” —Pam Jenoff, author of Code Name Sapphire

“Matchar’s debut novel is a richly layered and beautifully written tale that immerses the reader into a sweeping saga set in the picturesque backdrop of the lush West Virginia mountains’ legendary Greenbrier resort, and its fascinating, secret history. Utterly captivating, In The Shadow of The Greenbrier is unforgettable." —Kim Michele Richardson, author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

“Emily Matchar brings the iconic Greenbrier Hotel to vivid life through the engaging, heartbreaking, and often harrowing experiences of four generations.” —Diane Chamberlain, author of The Last House on the Street

“With meticulous research and an unerring eye for the nuances of family dynamics . . . In the Shadow of the Greenbrier is a triumph of storytelling and a must-read for lovers of rich, evocative historical fiction.” —Kelly Rimmer, author of The Paris Agent

“A richly detailed and beautifully written family saga, In the Shadow of the Greenbrier intimately explores the lives of characters caught between the past and the present, unsure of what to let go and what to hold fast. Matchar deftly steers us through time, unfolding long-held secrets and weaving them into a story that is at once poignant and a page-turner.” —Kelly Mustian, author of The Girls in the Stilt House

“Emily Matchar's gripping debut expertly weaves together the fascinating and fraught tale of four generations of a Jewish family. Told with lyrical prose, In the Shadow of the Greenbrier is a heart-rending story of what it means to belong and the impact of long-buried family secrets, at last, coming to light.” —Heather Webb, author of The Next Ship Home

“Careful research, vivid description and a solid historical basis are the scaffold on which this novel is built. But it’s the characters, with all their longings and disappointments, their flaws and their triumphs who will steal your heart and not give it back; they’ll stay with you long after the last page is turned.” —Kitty Zeldis, author of The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights
© Jamin Asay
Emily Matchar has written for an array of publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Outside, Smithsonian, and the Atlantic. Originally from North Carolina, she lives with her husband and two sons. In the Shadow of the Greenbrier is her first novel. View titles by Emily Matchar

About

Four generations. One remarkable hotel. Countless secrets.

Nestled in the hills of West Virginia lies White Sulphur Springs, home to the Greenbrier Resort. Long a playground for presidents and film stars, the Greenbrier has its own gravitational pull. Over ten decades, four generations of the Zelner family must grapple with their place in its shadow . . . and within their own family.

In 1942, young mother Sylvia is desperate to escape her stifling marriage, especially when it means co-running Zelner’s general store with her husband. When the Greenbrier is commandeered for use as a luxury prison, Sylvia finds her fidelity strained and her heart on the line.

Seventeen years later, Sylvia’s daughter, Doree, struggles to fit in, eagerly awaiting the day she’ll leave for college and meet a nice Jewish boy. But when a handsome stranger comes to town and her brother Alan’s curiosity puts him and Sylvia at risk, Doree is torn between loyalty and desire.

An immersive family saga rich with historical detail, In the Shadow of the Greenbrier explores the inevitable clash between past and future and the extraordinary moments in ordinary lives.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Jordan

Washington, DC

January 1992

When the letter arrived, Jordan Barber was sitting at his desk eyeing the cuffs of his chinos, wondering if he could hem them with a stapler. If he did it from the inside out, maybe the little folded silver legs of the staples would look like fancy stitching.

A minute before, Rick Lowell from the National News desk had walked by and made a wisecrack about Jordan wearing his dad's clothes. Jordan wanted to shoot back that he was actually taller than his dad, but even he knew this was not the right way to do newsroom banter. So he just stared down at his feet, noticing how the pants puddled around the tops of his brown wingtips, which had felt so sharp when his mom bought them at Hecht's the month before but now seemed too shiny, as if announcing "I'm brand-new."

All the top reporters at the Post-the ones whose names appeared above the fold, who talked about having drinks "at Ben's," who'd flown on Air Force One-dressed like they'd slept at their desks all night: rumpled oxford shirts, loafers worn down to the color and texture of cardboard. Nobody else's shoes were shiny. No one else ironed their chinos.

Maybe Scotch Tape would work better than a stapler? Or masking tape? Jordan began rummaging in his desk drawer.

Just then, the mail cart clattered through, pushed by Alice the intern, who wore a plaid headband and a thousand-yard stare. She tossed a letter on Jordan's desk without turning her head.

"Thanks!" Jordan called, but Alice didn't look back.

He looked down at the letter.

Jordan Barber

Local and Regional News Desk

The Washington Post

Weird. He'd only been at the desk for four months, and he'd never had a letter personally addressed to him before. He was about to tear it open when he remembered his letter opener, the one his granddad had given him for college graduation. He plucked it from the University of Maryland mug where he kept his pens. It was brass and felt good in his hand, cool and heavy and professional. He slid it under the letter's flap, noting the West Virginia postmark. Unfolding the paper, he began to read. Then his eyes caught a name, and he stopped.

The Greenbrier.

The words sounded like a gong somewhere deep and primal in his brain, sound waves rippling outward. The Greenbrier.

There's something underneath the Greenbrier Resort, the letter read. It's time for people to know.

His mother had rarely referred to it as "the Greenbrier." It was simply "the resort."

Other children were told bedtime stories about princes or talking bunnies or teddy bear picnics. Jordan and his twin sister had been raised on tales of the Greenbrier: The green hotel Rolls-Royces that used to meet the trains. The movie stars hanging out by the pool. The doormen who all knew their mother's name, even though she was just a townie kid, not a guest. Jordan always imagined the resort as a fairy-tale castle atop a hill, with the village of White Sulphur Springs-his mother's hometown-in its shadow.

Their mother and their uncle Pete would go on and on about the annual Greenbrier employee Christmas parties-Remember that gingerbread house that was a perfect scale model of the resort? Remember the time Dewey Burdette broke Santa's throne? This would annoy Jordan's sister, since Jordan and Jessica were never allowed to so much as watch a Christmas movie. (That's how assimilation starts, their father would say, as if there were a slippery chute from It's a Wonderful Life straight to accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.)

Yet the Greenbrier was also somehow related to the other part of their mother's life, the part she didn't talk about. The part about her mother and her other brother, Alan. About what had happened to them. There was an incident with a car. Her mother and Alan had died and it had been terribly sad. That's all Jordan's mother would say. A terribly sad incident. Everything Jordan knew was gleaned from snatches of conversation overheard late at night, when Uncle Pete was in town.

He couldn't leave it alone. All that blood.

Their mother wouldn't tell them more. If Jessica pressed, Mom would sigh and turn away and let her eyes fill with tears.

Jordan never pressed. He hated to be the One Who Made His Mother Cry. But he did imagine. He pictured long, snouty, sinister cars full of anti-Semites, of course-as a child he misheard the word (ant-i-Semites), and imagined enormous ants, with shiny dark carapace-like armor.

Now a stranger was offering information about this black hole at the center of his childhood. Not only that, but the stranger was offering him a story. Maybe a big story. Jordan might not have the right pants or the right shoes, but he knew how to follow a lead as well as any of the A1 guys. Maybe this would be his chance.

Chapter 2

Doree

White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

December 1958

When people heard she was from West Virginia and raised their eyebrows a little-a look that said they were thinking of tar paper shacks and toothless snake handlers and black lung-Doree wished she could walk them through the Greenbrier Resort in the winter of 1958.

In fact, she had an exact date in mind. December 13. The day of the employees' Christmas party.

The resort gleamed like a cruise ship on the horizon. The acres of lawns as pampered as a starlet's hair. The fleet of bottle-green Rolls-Royces. The dining room so big waiters used to ride horses through it. The Swiss chefs who flambeed crêpes suzette tableside, just like in Monte Carlo. The crisp G stamped in the fresh white sand of every ashtray. The massive brass lobby doors swinging open and welcoming her inside.

Doree and her younger brothers, Alan and Pete, walked west along White Sulphur Springs's stunted Main Street, stopping at the corner of Surber Road to meet Patty and Tommy Curry. Pete and Tommy raced ahead, kicking stones with the toes of their dress shoes. Alan, as usual, trailed behind.

"I love that coat!" Patty said, reaching out to pet the shoulder of Doree's new tartan cape coat. "Did your mom do that?"

Doree nodded. "I like your new hat."

"It's going to squash my hair, though," Patty said.

Arms linked, they crossed the invisible line dividing town from resort and came to the entrance gate, where the younger boys were waiting, leaning against the brick. The driveway was flanked by tall white pillars topped with Grecian urns. From each pillar hung a wrought iron lantern, and beneath the lantern, in curling script, the words The Greenbrier.

Normally, when Doree and other townies visited the Greenbrier, they'd cut across the bridge over Howard's Creek and come in the lower North Entrance. But not today.

"We get to go in the big entrance today!" called Pete. "Like the Duke of York!"

"Duke of Windsor," muttered Alan.

On they walked, past the guardhouse, waving to Mr. Sammy in his forest-green suit and cap. They passed the South Carolina Cottages on their right, with their identical American flags hanging stiffly in the cold air. The younger boys picked up sticks on the hillside and began sword fighting. Then they turned the bend in the drive, and even Pete and Tommy stopped messing around for a minute because there it was, at the head of the oval lawn, seeming to glow in the pinkening dusk.

The resort.

It was a palace as large and white and splendid as anything in their history books, sitting tall on a gentle rise in the valley floor, the dark ridgeline of the Alleghenies its backdrop. Hundreds of windows-the resort had more than seven hundred guest rooms, Alan had told her-seemed to twinkle like stars. Front and center was an immense portico in the style of a Greek temple, a single oval pane set in its pediment like an all-seeing eye. The building was surrounded by widening circles of lawns, then formal gardens, then rows of nineteenth-century gingerbread cottages, a remnant of the resort's days as the Old White, when the aristocracy of Richmond and Atlanta and Charleston would come to take the waters.

With two weeks to Christmas, the building was festooned and beribboned from bottom to top. Swags of fir branches overhung the arches of the lower arcade, while the towering white columns of the portico had been wound with golden twinkle lights. More lights glittered from the laurel trees flanking the front lawn. On the balcony was a Christmas tree lavished with tinsel and crowned with a single gold star.

Looking at the resort always gave Doree the same warm flush she got when singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Little League games. Like something bigger than her belonged to her alone. It made White Sulphur Springs different from all the little West Virginia towns clinging to the hillsides and hollows of the Alleghenies. Bluefield and Welch will be in trouble when the coal mines play out, her father always said. But we've got the Greenbrier.

At the motor entrance, the doormen stood stoic in the cold. "Young ladies, young gentlemen," said Leon, the head doorman, pulling open the heavy brass door. They stepped inside with a whoosh of warm air. It was check-in time, and the Motor Lobby was thick with smoke and perfume. Bellboys glided back and forth to the elevators with trolleys of luggage as men in flannel suits stood waiting at the front desk, rubbing the impressions of their hats from their hair, bleary from whiskey and sodas on the Chesapeake and Ohio George Washington from DC. "Now, let me tell you the thing," said a man with a Yankee accent, leaning over the concierge desk.

"Billy! Where are you, Billy?" called a woman with the face of a movie star, as a little boy in short pants stood giggling behind a potted fern.

Doree did a careful sweep of the room. You never knew who you'd see. Patty had spotted Debbie Reynolds once, sitting on the front steps in Bermuda shorts, as normal as could be. Bob Hope had been here just last summer.

"There's Mama!" called Patty.

Evangeline Curry was standing by the elevators, waving. She'd put on a green wool party dress but was still wearing her stubby-heeled brown housekeeper's shoes.

"Girls, you both look so pretty!" she said, reaching out to squeeze their arms.

Even though Doree was nearly eighteen, the Greenbrier employees' children's Christmas party was still exciting. She'd gone every year since kindergarten, thanks to Patty. Mrs. Curry was the head housekeeper at the Greenbrier, so she was allowed guest tickets. Patty and Tommy always brought Doree and Pete and Alan. Patty and Doree had been best friends since they were five; so had Tommy and Pete. And Mrs. Curry wouldn't have let Alan be left out, of course.

The group of them headed back towards the theater. Carol VanDonk, who was a classmate of Doree and Patty's, was taking tickets at the door; her father ran the resort print shop, where he set the dining room menus every day on heavy cream-colored card stock with gold embossing. The younger boys threw their coats on the table and ran into the theater, and Mrs. Curry dissolved into a group of other Greenbrier mothers. Alan hung back, waiting for Doree. "Go on, Alan," she said impatiently. Why couldn't Pete invite Alan to tag along for once? It would be nice to have just one event where he wasn't her responsibility.

"That is such a cute coat," Carol said to Doree. "I wish my mama could sew."

Patty leaned over the table and faux whispered to Carol, "Are you-know-who here yet?"

"Lee Burdette and them?" Carol said, putting the coats on hangers and hanging them from the bellboy rail. "I saw Dewey, but nobody from our year."

Lee Burdette was the captain of the basketball team and had a dirty blond pompadour and heavy-lidded blue eyes, like Elvis. He drove an old army jeep from back when the Greenbrier was a war hospital. His father, Johnny Burdette, was the resort's head groundskeeper.

"Well, when you see Lee, tell him Doree's gonna get him under the mistletoe!" Patty said.

"Y'all are too boy crazy!"

The girls went inside, Alan trailing silently behind. The gold and pink theater was set up like an indoor carnival, and it was as noisy and wild as any fair on a Saturday night. The little kids were streaming between card tables set up with games-ring toss, balloon and darts, cover the spot-or waiting in line to see Santa, their mouths slack with anticipation. At the head of the Santa line, a doorman dressed as an elf was doing card tricks. Santa himself was Jim Wiley, the assistant to the manager. His beard was made of pulled cotton balls glued to felt, but his belly was entirely real. He sat in the same gold foil throne Doree had seen every year since she was five. She'd never sat in Santa's lap, though. That would have been a step too far.

Dewey Burdette and a gaggle of freshman boys were taking turns at the Strongman, peacocking back and forth with the rubber mallet and making muscle arms when they hit the bell. The other teenagers were gathered around the refreshments table, drinking ginger ale punch and eating pinwheels and little merengue cookies tinted red and green.

"Go get something to eat, Alan," Doree told her brother. If she didn't tell him something he'd stand behind her like a shadow for the whole party. You'd think he was four, not two days from turning sixteen, she thought. "But not the pinwheels."

"Why not?"

"Ham."

"I like ham."

"Suit yourself. But don't tell Mama."

Doree and Patty filled their plates and sat down at one of the card tables on the stage with Louise Level and Patty's cousins Wanda and Annette. The room was warm from the rising heat of dozens of excited children, and Doree felt flushed in her wool skirt and sweater set. She could feel her hair, carefully styled in a ponytail with side curled bangs, beginning to wilt.

"Look," said Patty. "Lee and them are here."

Framed in the light of the open door were Lee Burdette; Vance Calwell; and Jack and Edisto Level, Louise's cousins. The starting lineup of the White Sulphur Springs High basketball team, minus Davey-John Newsome, who was probably freezing his behind off on the golf course caddying for some Yankee guest. Seeing them, Doree checked her posture and pretended to be laughing at something Louise said. Boys liked girls who smiled a lot.

"Okay, y'all," said Patty, looking around the table and raising her eyebrows wickedly. "Let's get this straight in advance. Doree's gonna marry Lee, Wanda can have Edisto, and Annette gets Vance."

Reviews

"Matchar deftly weaves the four time lines together to reach a satisfying, emotionally resonant conclusion." —Booklist

"
A stirring coming-of-age tale and gripping family saga set against the backdrop of the famous and historic West Virginia resort. Readers will eagerly follow and root for the generations of the Zelner family as they struggle with their places in a changing world and come face-to-face with dark secrets of the past in this memorable and moving book.” —Pam Jenoff, author of Code Name Sapphire

“Matchar’s debut novel is a richly layered and beautifully written tale that immerses the reader into a sweeping saga set in the picturesque backdrop of the lush West Virginia mountains’ legendary Greenbrier resort, and its fascinating, secret history. Utterly captivating, In The Shadow of The Greenbrier is unforgettable." —Kim Michele Richardson, author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

“Emily Matchar brings the iconic Greenbrier Hotel to vivid life through the engaging, heartbreaking, and often harrowing experiences of four generations.” —Diane Chamberlain, author of The Last House on the Street

“With meticulous research and an unerring eye for the nuances of family dynamics . . . In the Shadow of the Greenbrier is a triumph of storytelling and a must-read for lovers of rich, evocative historical fiction.” —Kelly Rimmer, author of The Paris Agent

“A richly detailed and beautifully written family saga, In the Shadow of the Greenbrier intimately explores the lives of characters caught between the past and the present, unsure of what to let go and what to hold fast. Matchar deftly steers us through time, unfolding long-held secrets and weaving them into a story that is at once poignant and a page-turner.” —Kelly Mustian, author of The Girls in the Stilt House

“Emily Matchar's gripping debut expertly weaves together the fascinating and fraught tale of four generations of a Jewish family. Told with lyrical prose, In the Shadow of the Greenbrier is a heart-rending story of what it means to belong and the impact of long-buried family secrets, at last, coming to light.” —Heather Webb, author of The Next Ship Home

“Careful research, vivid description and a solid historical basis are the scaffold on which this novel is built. But it’s the characters, with all their longings and disappointments, their flaws and their triumphs who will steal your heart and not give it back; they’ll stay with you long after the last page is turned.” —Kitty Zeldis, author of The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights

Author

© Jamin Asay
Emily Matchar has written for an array of publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Outside, Smithsonian, and the Atlantic. Originally from North Carolina, she lives with her husband and two sons. In the Shadow of the Greenbrier is her first novel. View titles by Emily Matchar