from The Tuesday Night Gardening and Assassins Club
From the day we married Quint started making plans to ensure I’d always be taken care of.
“In case something happens to me, baby doll,” he’d say, taking me in his arms and nuzzling his handsome face into my throat. “I’m going to make sure you have everything you need.”
“Don’t say things like that,” I’d say. “Nothing’s going to happen to you. I won’t let it.”
It warms my heart to know how many people loved Quint. We moved to Salem shortly after we married. It’s a nice neighborhood with comfortable family homes overlooking Salem Harbor. Right from the beginning we knew we’d made the right choice. Ours is the kind of neighborhood where neighbors borrow hedge clippers from one another and stop by with a basket full of tomatoes when their gardens ripen too fast or a nice big striper when the fishing is good. Of course all the neighbors knew was that Quint worked in Boston and that sometimes his work took him away from home for a few days. When he was gone they’d invite me over for dinner.
“No sense eating alone,” Polly would say when she called. “I made plenty of lasagna and Randy likes having two pretty women at the dinner table. Now with the kids out and on their own, the dinner table is just too doggone quiet.”
So I’d go and we’d have a couple glasses of wine on the porch and talk about the weather, and what new shows were coming to Boston, and the goings on down on the Common when the local witches and warlocks were up to something. It was a nice life and when Quint came home he’d drive down to the lobster shack under the Beverly/Salem bridge and bring back lobsters and we’d invite Polly and Randy or other neighbors for an evening on us.
from Depraved Heart: A Novel
When W.Q. Ravenscroft first conceived Hathor his intention was to create a mansion as imposing and grand as those in Newport. While a guest at George Peabody Wetmore’s Chateau-sur-Mer he attended a party at the neighboring Rosecliff where he met Lisette Fournier, his future wife. That night, and in the months to come, as he wooed her from Newport to Paris and from New York to Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Italianate villa in Boston, he promised her a palace and a kingdom that would be the envy of all her friends. Lisette deserved nothing less. W.Q., who had spent a fair amount of his pre-Lisette young manhood in London, was enchanted by Early Tudor architecture and sought out an architect who could concoct a fanciful interpretation of Dorney Court with as many gables and double tiers of triple, diamond-paned windows as could be squeezed into the main structure. Barges of brick and wood were floated across Salem Harbor and, as the manor house grew, the islanders watched with skeptical authority.
“Such nonsense,” was the consensus.
“Won’t make it through one nor’easter,” was added evening after evening in the Riptide.
But the manor house continued to expand - gables and chimneys, vaults and gingerbread, gargoyles and arches, half-timbering and inglenook fireplaces, endless paneling of fine woods. The cottage, as the residents of Newport called their mansions with coy restraint, grew in stateliness and absurdity and Lisette busied herself collecting hand-crafted furnishings from three continents. A wing composed entirely of suites, each with a sitting room, bedroom and bath, was built along the northwest side of the walled garden for the use of visiting guests.
The cottage itself was just the beginning. It was followed by stables and boathouses, temples and grottoes, vast greenhouses, and then there were Lisette’s special delights - her follies, she called them. With a childish sensibility that enchanted W.Q., she declared that Hathor was not an estate but rather a fairyland. It was her particular mission to create endless secret places that would be inviting to the mythical creatures she intended to attract. For the remainder of her life she concocted, designed, and built all manner of quaint and quixotic structures, all perfectly lovely and perfectly useless. Some contained fountains, or wishing wells, or reflecting pools. One, rumor had it, contained a carousel with hand-carved and gilded creatures, gryphons and tigers, camels and unicorns.
Thanks for reading.