Hotel Russell by Tara Bernerd

The Sensuous Delight of Place

Like Katherine Mansfield’s enigmatic stories, the book Place by Tara Bernerd feels like “a thread with a subtly woven texture embracing ecstatic feeling, sensuous delight.” The quote is from an essay by Angela Smith in a remarkable book titled The Modernist Party. Edited by Kate McLoughlin, the collection of literary explorations surveys the dinner party through […]

A rainy Saturday at Yale is my secret to happiness

The Secret of Happiness

Nestled into her chateau in St. Brice, France, during the summer of 1924, Edith Wharton wrote in her diary, “The secret of happiness is to have forgotten what it is to be happy.” As a writer, I interpret this sentiment as being so absorbed in work that no feelings register at all. Whether she meant it […]

Gondoliers on the Grand Canal in Venice

A Meditation on Age and Romance

  I turn 59 this week and knowing I am about to enter the last year of my 50’s has me thinking a great deal about age, particularly as it relates to independent women and romance. Did you know Peggy Guggenheim had a crush on Beat Poet Gregory Corso when she was my age—feelings he […]

I saw the Arc de Triomphe with new eyes

Seeing with New Eyes

  Day two of my Parisian literary adventure follows a foray I wrote about last week. It turned out to be a long excursion because I decided to walk all the way from my hotel, Le Meridien Etoile in the 17th arrondissement near the Périphérique, along the spine of Avenue de la Grande Armée, past the Arc de Triomphe, onto […]

Chambre Bleu painting

A Backward Glance on rue de Varenne

  The narrow sidewalks push their black iron batons up out of the ground to protect the buildings hemming them; the rain turns the cobblestones to muted mirrors of damp light—I’m visiting her again on the anniversary of her 155th birthday, and it dawns on me that I’ve never seen the statuesque green door with […]

Henry VIII swathed in cloth

Henry VIII’s Cult of Cloth

A trip to Frankfurt to attend Heimtextil a week from today has inspired me to share one of my favorite anecdotes about Henry VIII and his court, as it describes how the Tudor King doted on textiles. I came across the depictions of his wanderlusting ways in Nicola Shulman’s book Graven with Diamonds: The Many […]

Edith Wharton's home in France

What Libraries Might Teach Us

  I’m on my way back to Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University tomorrow, one of my all-time favorite research libraries, and it occurred to me that it would be a good time to share with you what I’ve learned so far from delving into the papers of some heavyweight writers at […]