Canberra is a long way from Martha's Vineyard but two friends who have spent many a summer there and who happen to be the United States Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks, met up in the national capital on Tuesday night.
Ms Brooks was the star of an ANU/Canberra Times meet-the-author event at the Kambri Cultural Centre, promoting her new book Horse.
Ms Kennedy, just a couple of days into her new role in Canberra - and wearing a puffer jacket - unobtrusively joined the event to support her friend, who a few years back famously once said Kennedy should be handed the New York Senate seat not least "because she reads poetry".
Ms Kennedy, 64, slipped into the sold-out literary event, surprising organisers who were approached just before it started by her security detail asking if it was okay if the ambassador attended.
People sometimes forget she's edited several books of poetry and she is quite a literary person as well as her mother who worked for years in New York publishing. She's very connected to the book world.- Geraldine Brooks on her friend Caroline Kennedy
We're told Ms Kennedy just wanted to "blend in" but was given priority seating by the organisers. She did line up afterwards, like everyone else, to buy a copy of the book and have it signed by Ms Brooks.
"That's the kind of person she is," Ms Brooks said.
Australian-born Ms Brooks has for more than a decade retreated to a renovated farmhouse on Martha's Vineyard, an island off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, the summer playground for the wealthy and well-connected, including the Kennedys. There, with her horses and family, Brooks also weathered the COVID pandemic.
It was also where she got to know Ms Kennedy.
"I'm just a big admirer of hers and we've got to know each other a little bit through living on Martha's Vineyard and she's there with her terrific family for a lot of the summer time. So we've seen a bit of each other over the years," Ms Brooks said.
Tuesday's literary event, held in conjunction with Harry Hartog Bookshop, was a good introduction to the arts in Canberra for Ms Kennedy - the place buzzing and everyone glad to be celebrating Ms Brooks' sixth novel.
Ms Brooks was surprised to see Ms Kennedy show up at the event. But was not surprised to see the newly-minted ambassador already out supporting the arts.
"It was a very pleasant surprise that she could find the time when her feet have just touched the ground," Ms Brooks, 66, said.
"I think people sometimes forget she's edited several books of poetry and she is quite a literary person as well as her mother [Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis] who worked for years in New York publishing.
"She's very connected to the book world and it's thrilling that an ambassador would come out to a book event and particularly mine!"
Canberrans will, no doubt, be seeing more of Ms Kennedy (and her puffer jacket "She's not stupid," Ms Brooks said of her friend's winter-appropriate attire".)
"Her husband, too, Edwin Schlossberg, is a very distinguished artist as well so I think you'll see them both taking a lot of interest in the cultural side of things," Ms Brooks said.
"I think she's going to be a fantastic success in this job."
Martha's Vineyard, meanwhile, may have also had something to do with Horse.
"It's very hard to explain how my mid-life crisis manifested itself into getting a horse. But it was certainly possible to do it on Martha's Vineyard, whereas it would have been difficult at other places. I've turned into a total hick, in other words," Ms Brooks said, with a laugh.