Design & Décor, Living with Style, The Newport Diary


A Newport Summer

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As I write this post, with a languid breeze fluttering the drapes, I’m convinced that my friends, Nick Mele and Ruthie Sommers, ordered this weather. It has been the sunniest, most agreeable June in a long time; clearly this will be a celebratory summer, out from under a pandemic and kicking off with Nick and Ruthie’s book signing on July 8th! Their new coffee table book, A Newport Summer, is a brilliant, captivating and fun capture of life within our City by the Sea’s grand homes. Having lived here for 35 years, I can say that Newport represents an understated elegance that truly sets it apart from other resort towns.

Many of you have met photographer Nick Mele, the “Slim Aarons of the Millennial set,” as I like to say, via my earlier posts. He knows our town well, having grown up in Edith Wharton’s seaside villa and capturing images of parties, beach clambakes, and family gatherings for the last 15plus years. Here, Nick with his wife and muse, Molly, and their son, Johnny (the Mele team, plus brother Archer, is also behind the popular Instagram account, @A.Social.Life).

An iconic vignette taken at Nick’s grandmother’s home, the Whim, sets the tone for what awaits you within the 208 pages of A Newport Summer.

Gifted with a Wes Anderson talent for the visual (with a witty twist), Nick’s choice to partner with uber interior designer and author Ruthie Sommers, another lifelong Newporter, assured that A Newport Summer would “capture the beating heart of our summer home.”

Each of us will pick our favorite images as they resonate for us, which is part of the many pleasures of this book. Having selected mine, I’m going to step back and let Ruthie’s evocative text support these luscious images that bring the intimate charms of A Newport Summer poignantly to mind.

“Everything was steeped in character that defied trends and achieved something else–a timeless imperfection that truly captured my heart.”

“The anticipation and promise of June, the celebrations of July, the social whirl of August, the whispered good byes of September. These four months represent the heart, soul, and survival of our beloved seaside enclave.”

“As summer enters its third act, the grounds of the former homes of robber barons and industrialists and business tycoons are up-lit, illuminating verdant lawns and meticulously manicured gardens that have been preserved through years of tireless dedication and a never-ending parade of fundraisers.”

“Our weathered veneer may appear somewhat shabby to the outsider, yet its familiarity blankets us in memories and tradition. And though we cherish the ageless and the aged, we also embrace the new.”

“If August filled my cup to the brim, then September is the month I get to savor it all. No one party or particular evening or unexpected guest tips the summer scales too far. It offers us the breathing room to reflect on the season’s events.”

“This book is our love letter to Newport for teaching us unspoken lessons we carry in our hearts. It flows into and around a connection to both the past and the present.”

Congrats, Nick and Ruthie, Oatsie would be proud! Thanks for my cameo…xx

To purchase A Newport Summer, click here.


All images credit, A Newport Summer by Nick Mele and Ruthie Sommers,©️2022. Published by Vendome.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

5 thoughts on “A Newport Summer

  1. What a cameo shot it is of you, Bettie, and all the others were so delightful and personal. I could sit and gaze at the ocean through that gorgeous garden being guarded by those two bunnies forever.

  2. Oh, my…the words that resonate with me, “endless fundraisers”…how MUCH GOOD has been given by this “select sector.” Adult fairy tale dreams…franki

  3. Lovely pics and script capture the essence of Newport! Looking forward to visiting friends Jeff and Cinnamon Hawks in Newport this weekend! Their son Aryn does high end real estate there.

  4. I’m sorry, this whole post seems a bit tone deaf to me. To depict the seemingly idle rich wearing couture clothes in luxurious mansions and sipping cocktails while many can barely keep a roof over their head and afford rising energy costs is distasteful. It seems a little “ let them eat cake”-ish.

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