The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey

December reads are special. I usually remember one hallmark book that I read each holiday season. With the headlong year’s end, there’s an increased emotional and spiritual heightening that shouldn’t be wasted. We read in a context of family and friends, both existing and absent. It’s a season of ghosts and ghosting, mists and chills. read more


The scents of September: ripe blackberries, garden fires, whiteboard marker pens. The start of the school year used to be thrilling, back when Fiona McNeel was a special girl full of promise sitting up front asking clever questions. Now she’d be the one fielding the clever questions, and looking silly if she couldn’t answer them. But how clever could they be, her new students? No more than fifteen in each section (they boasted about class size in the Barrow School brochures) twelve and thirteen year olds, eager to learn and easy to mold. And the classroom was not a bad place to work, a large, airy room with big windows overlooking maple trees and playing fields. read more

A Deep Plum Nightie

I was flipping through a tall stack of Mama’s magazines one afternoon when I was twelve years old. She was flying back to Iowa from Los Angeles and I was waiting for her in my room. Sitting with my legs crossed in bed, I spread a Victoria’s Secret catalogue in front of me—the Christmas edition. Women pranced around the glossy pages donning Santa hats, carefully placed atop long hair that curled down their backs like smoke. They wore matching lingerie, red velvet stitching and translucent mesh covering thin torsos in minuscule. White furry cuffs dangled loosely at one model’s slender wrists and I wondered who she was, this girl-woman, what kind of house she lived in, what her bedroom must have looked like, and who she would be surprising with her brand new see-through Santa robe. read more