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The Search for Peter Hunt


   Peter Hunt was charming, funny, outrageous and shrewd. He was a man of many talents.
     Telling the truth wasnít one of them.
     Thatís why it took author Lynn Van Dine almost a decade of research and interviews to track down the real story of the magnetic Cape Cod artist in her new book, The Search for Peter Hunt (The Local History Company, 2003), now available for pre-publication discounts on orders.
    In an uncommon approach to telling the story of a most uncommon man, The Search for Peter Hunt sorts through the legends and the facts of a life of art, celebrity and struggle. And in the course of the book, Peter Hunt adds his own acerbic spin.
    A Cape Cod folk artist from the 1920s through the 1960s, Peter Hunt was wildly popular across the United States for decorating furniture with whimsical designs inspired by European peasants.
    Born in a New Jersey tenement, Peter Hunt reinvented his background to better win over wealthy New York and Boston matrons. With inexhaustible gaiety, he told wild stories of a royal heritage and adventures around the world to manipulate his way into New Englandís poshest circles.
    His ruses worked. Peter Huntís decorated pieces made their way into the finest homes and, soon after, they were displayed at the best department stores in New York.
    All the while, Hunt was working and playing in the midst of a cultural upheaval in America. In his Bohemian circle sparkled famous and almost-famous artists, actors and writers -- playwright Eugene OíNeill, novelist Somerset Maugham, French actress Cecile Sorel, screenwriter Colin Clements, political
writer John Reed, singer Ganna Walska and the glamorous Helena Rubenstein.
Peter Hunt attained and maintained his high profile by promoting his painting techniques for ďmaking old things new,Ē an idea seized upon by women trying to keep up their households through the Depression and World War II.
    After the war, he held center
stage by publishing two books on decorating furniture and selling his designs to mass market manufacturers of china, linens, paints, fabrics and home accessories.
    He kept the spotlight by writing his Cape Cod Cookbook and illustrating a teenage romance set in Peter Huntís Peasant Village, Betty Cavannaís Paintbox Summer.
But in the end, Peter Hunt was undermined by his own success. His designs so saturated the market, collectors and discriminating buyers eventually lost interest. His fondness for self-indulgences soon depleted his fortune. As his money evaporated, so did many of his friends. He died alone in a tiny, three-room cottage.
    Peter Hunt climbed to the top on the strength of his charm, talent and an endless supply of complete fabrications. He told every story but his own.
The Search for Peter Hunt tells all the stories, real and invented in a way Peter Hunt would enjoy.

To order The Search for Peter Hunt, please visit the web site of the publisher, The Local History Company.

See what people are saying about "The Search for Peter Hunt" in the NEWSROOM. You'll find reviews and stories from The Midwest Book Review, The Provincetown Banner, The Cape Cod Chronicle and more!

Also, on the SIGHTINGS page, more readers send us their stories and pictures about Peter Hunt.

"Equal parts mystery novel, ghost story, romance and cultural history of the mid-20th Century, The Search for Peter Hunt is unlike any book I've ever read...
The only way to describe The Search for Peter Hunt is the way his contemporaries described the man himself: outrageous, uproarious, unconventional and irresistible.

Tim Clark,
Contributing Editor,
Yankee magazine.