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 after being renters for years and thinking we might never be able to afford a home of our own that we even liked, I did eventually manage to fall in love with a house. 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 which I thought was pretty silly at the time. 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.