My Material Life

Darlene’s Books

One of the things I miss most about visiting my mother-in-law is her book collection.  I always found one or more books to borrow and quite a few that I really loved.  This photo shows three of my favorites:  Murder Under the Palms, a Charlotte Graham mystery by Stefanie Matteson; The Widows Club, an Ellie Haskell mystery by Dorothy Cannell; and Thornyhold by Mary Stewart.  The common theme of these three particular books – secondary to their stories – is the love of a house.  And that’s the thing that really grabs me about them because I am a house person.  I resisted this for years.  Once upon a time my husband told me that one of his brothers said I was domestic.  I couldn’t believe it!  Me?  A girl who came of age in the women’s lib seventies, did her college internship at Planned Parenthood and read books about early feminists like Margaret Sanger for pleasure?!  What’s so laughable about my indignation is that my brother-in-law said that because I’d stayed away from some family gathering to sew pillowcases – sew pillowcases!  I mean, how could I blame him!  At the time we were renting one-half of a cute little duplex in Los Altos.  On the last Sunday afternoon of August 1999, my husband coaxed me out of my Bay Area housing market ennui long enough to agree to take a look at some places he’d found on the internet (me:  you’re not going to find a house on the internet!)  Though the first two were very disappointing and the third wasn’t anything special from the outside, when we walked up to the entry and took one look from the kitchen window through to the backyard, we knew it was the one.  Then the clouds parted and within a few hours the owners agreed to sell us the house.  We went back to our duplex that night with a new future home, a bottle of champagne and a love affair that continues to this day – with a house.


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