Bridget Moynahan is best known as an actress (“Blue Bloods,” “Sex and the City,” “Coyote Ugly”) and former cover model, but now she is dipping her toe — so to speak — into the world of books, with “Our Shoes, Our Selves,” co-authored with journalist Amanda Benchley and featuring photography by Melanie Dunea.
Moynahan, an East End resident, will be one of the writers participating in the East Hampton Library’s Authors’ Night on Saturday, August 10, in the “555” field in Amagansett. The local library’s largest annual fundraiser offers up about 100 authors — some world-famous, some up-and-coming — talking to guests and signing copies of their books.
“Ask any woman about her favorite pair of shoes, and the answer may surprise you,” teases the back cover of “Our Shoes, Our Selves.” Inside, 40 accomplished women — from Misty Copeland to Bobbi Brown to Katie Couric — share memories and stories through their stilettos and sneakers, combat boots or slippers. The result is an insightful series of interviews and portraits proving that sometimes the soles of our feet are somehow connected to, well, our souls. It also explores the human connection with inanimate objects, how we hold on to sentiment, and how that affects us.
“It all started with me cleaning out my closet,” Moynahan said. “I had more than a few heels that I was never wearing and felt it was time to donate them. I put them into piles and found myself quietly pulling them out of the bins, unable to part with them. I sent Amanda photos of the chaos and of me crying over each pair, questioning — why was it so hard to part with items I get no use out of?”
Benchley and Moynahan had “met years back through a mutual friend,” said Moynahan. “We clicked on many levels, from our need to eat every few hours to our belief in girls’ weekends. We turned out to be a great fit!”
After talking together, Moynahan continued, “We broke it down to memories. Each pair was attached to a special moment or event in my life. We thought that if I had this attachment, then most women would too.”
This proved correct, as the duo started talking to other women. The idea for the book was formed. But whose stories would they tell?
“We were focused on having a broad spectrum of women in the book of different ages, backgrounds, and professions,” said Moynahan. “We took special care of searching out that balance, and the most inspiring women.”
Moynahan herself was inspired by former First Lady Barbara Bush. “Barbara Bush always held a very special place in my heart,” she said, “I was incredibly grateful to her for sharing her story with us. Her husband was in the hospital at the time. She snuck away to speak with Amanda and do a quick photo shoot with Melanie, and went right back to the hospital. Her story shows a very fun and playful aspect of her personality.”
Rosie Perez is another intimate portrait in the book, which doesn’t tiptoe around delicate issues.
It took about a year for Moynahan, Benchley, and Dunea to cover the ground necessary for the first run of the book, which has received very positive reviews since its April release.
What’s the takeaway Moynahan wants readers to get from “Our Shoes, Our Selves”? “It’s been so exciting to see how people have reacted to the book. Everyone we have met has found at least one story that resonated with them. Either they shared a similar experience in their own lives, or they were moved by learning something new about someone they felt they knew,” she said.
“Amanda and I have both been so grateful to all the people we have met on the book tour who have then shared their stories with us. The book has opened up conversations between people about their own shoes and more importantly, their stories.”
For tickets to the East Hampton Library’s Authors Night, visit www.authorsnight.org.