Belva Plain (Offenberg), 95, of Short Hills died Oct. 12, 2010. She was born in New York City and lived in South Orange before moving to Short Hills 25 years ago.
Plain wrote more than 20 best-selling novels over several decades, but only after her children grew up and she became a grandmother.
Her first novel, Evergreen, was published in 1978. It spent more than 40 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list, and was developed into a popular TV miniseries.
Writing had always been a passion for Plain, who, as a teenager, enjoyed writing poetry and as a young woman wrote short stories for many major magazines. She received a history degree from Barnard College in 1939.
Evergreen follows the saga of a young girl who trades the desperate squalor of rural Poland for the teeming slums of New York, where she is torn between the love and ambitions of two men.
Plain revived the Evergreen characters for three other novels: The Golden Cup (1986), Tapestry (1988), and Harvest (1990). She recently completed work on a sequel, Heartland, due to be published in February.
“Belva’s stories spoke to the hearts and lives of millions of readers for decades,” Shauna Summers, senior editor of Ballantine Bantam Dell, Random House, which published Plain’s works, told The Star-Ledger of Newark. Plain “wrote about family and friendship — the things that matter most.”
She married Dr. Irving Plain, an ophthalmologist, in 1941; he died in 1982. She is survived by two daughters, Barbara Plain and Nancy Goldfeder; a son, John; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Private services were held with arrangements by Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, Livingston.