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Hamptons Life

Oct 26, 2010 12:44 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Ghostly Tale of Grey Gardens Adventure

Oct 26, 2010 12:44 PM

After Southampton-based writer J.C. Burdine lost her 8-year-old French bulldog two years ago to death by natural causes, she took to her computer to create what would become a six-book series about her pet companion’s fictional adventures out in the world.

Ms. Burdine’s most recent installment in the series, a spooky Halloween-themed tale called “Bijoux Goes to Grey Gardens,” hit bookstores on October 20, just in time for Halloween.

The book, the longest of the series so far, centers on the late Bijoux—who lives on in the book—taking a trip to the house known as Grey Gardens at Georgica Beach in East Hampton, where the dog encounters the spirits of the house’s most famous residents, “Big Edie” Beale and her daughter “Little Edie.” The eccentric pair, cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, were the subjects of a celebrated 1975 documentary named for their house made by Albert and David Maysles.

Ms. Burdine, a former Manhattanite who used to work as the creative director for Grey Advertising in Dusseldorf, Germany, and London, England, before returning to New York, said that she started the series in order to cope with the loss of her dog. She laid out the books, which she published herself, using Photoshop and other computer programs to place cut-out photographs of Bijoux in different story lines.

“I did a series of books about her to get over the grief,” said Ms. Burdine, who added that she also wrote a feature-length screenplay based on Bijoux. “I couldn’t accept it,” she said of Bijoux’s passing. “She was still alive to me.”

The latest book is special to Ms. Burdine, she said, because of its local roots and also because Bijoux is joined by some

special friends in the book—more dogs and a cat belonging to other East End residents.

Ms. Burdine recently donated five signed hardcover editions of the Bijoux books, including “Bijoux Goes Sleepy, A Late Night Tale,” “Bijoux’s Birthday Cake: A Delicious Adventure,” “Bijoux’s Big Box of Crayons,” “Why Bijoux Believes in Heaven” and “Blessed Beast: Bijoux Says Please and Thank You,” to the Artists Against Abuse charity auction to benefit The Retreat this past summer. The author set up her donation so that the highest bidder on the item would also be entitled to have his or her pet featured in the next Bijoux book.

According to Ms. Burdine, so many bidders were interested in obtaining a cameo for their pet in the series, the bidding was stopped at $1,500 by auction organizers and three bidders at that level got to have their pets featured in “Bijoux Goes to Grey Gardens.”

“None of them gave up,” said Ms. Burdine, of the bidders at the charity auction. “So I put all of them in the book and made $4,500 for the Retreat.”

Ms. Burdine said that “Bijoux Goes to Grey Gardens,” starts with Bijoux being awakened by the ghost of Lois Wright, an artist who once lived at Grey Gardens. Afterward, Ms. Wright whisks Bijoux away to the East Hampton home where she and her dog companion explore the estate and spend time with the ghosts of both Beales.

“It’s just very satisfying for me,” said Ms. Burdine, who drew on her skills as a fine arts painter when illustrating the book.

Ms. Burdine said that although she originally intended to create the series for children, she now feels that dog lovers of all ages can relate to the book.

“People love them,” said Ms. Burdine, noting that the series has sold well. “Sometimes people will read them and burst into tears,” she said, adding that the books deal with such issues as generosity, creativity, and overcoming fear.

Author and illustrator J.C. Burdine will read from “Bijoux Goes to Grey Gardens” on Sunday, October 31, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hampton Coffee Company on Montauk Highway in Water Mill. Complimentary Halloween cookies and candy will be provided for children at the event.

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Wanted to note that the figure with Bijoux in the image above
'Procession on Pink Beach'
is none other than local Grey Gardens 'High Priestess' LOIS WRIGHT
whose paintings of the Beales appear throughout
BIJOUX GOES TO GREY GARDENS.


By J.C. Burdine (2), Southampton on Nov 3, 10 9:36 AM
Lois Wright is described as a ghost in this article but she is very much alive and
slated to star in the upcoming documentary Grey Gardens: Get on the Ghost List, Spring 2011.
By J.C. Burdine (2), Southampton on Nov 3, 10 10:20 AM