French Friday: Goodbye, Ms. Shreve

It’s a last minute Friday post, almost Sunday for part of the country. But when my husband told me that the great author Anita Shreve had just died, I instinctively found my way to the room where I write and store all the novels written by female writers that I’ve read and love. This is also where my youngest daughter, a voracious reader, huge fiction fan, and strong supporter of female writers, sleeps when she visits us.

There, Louise Erdrich, Doris Lessing, Dona Tartt, Toni Morrison, Elena Ferrante, and many others share rows of shelves.

Instinctively again, I reached for the specific spot where I expected to find The Pilot’s Wife, the novel that propelled Anita Shreve to fame, but also Sea Glass or still Light on Snow.

At the same time, in a totally 2018 reflex, I also reached for my phone.

A blog post was already written and I had the perfect photo.

After all, I thought, are there many people who have read and kept every single book written by Anita Shreve?

But my fingers only met an empty shelf.

I was disappointed and even a little upset. Where could these books be? I know that I’ve sorted many over the last years. Still. I would never have stored Anita Shreve’s novels in a bin. No way.

There was only one culprit. Okay, maybe two.

And I would never condemn them.

After all, if my daughter and her older sister devour novels like others wolf down candies, I feel responsible.

Besides, Anita Shreve would approve.

She once said that she was a reader before being a writer and that she could not understand some of her fellow authors who said they could not read when writing.

She added that she had never fallen asleep without reading, since the day she knew how to read. She admitted to late expeditions through hotel lobbies, when she had inadvertently forgotten to pack a book.

If the hotel had no library and the gift shop was closed, she snatched a newspaper left on a table or even fliers advertising local attractions.

She had to read or she would not fall asleep.

I loved her more than ever when I read that.

So as I went back to the kitchen, empty-handed, phone tucked again in my jeans’ back pocket, I imagined that she would enjoy the story of her vanishing novels.

I, I mean “we”, will miss you Ms. Shreve.


  1. She was a local kid. Dedham High School, Tufts University, teaching at Amherst College. Another good one passes on.

    • She was, indeed a New England’s maybe and resident. Really love what she wrote. I improved my English so much while reading her novels. More fun than taking classes, too. She’ll be missed. Too young to go.

  2. It’s sad to lose someone who has touched our lives through their work.

    • It is strange to mourn someone we’ve never met, but authors, musicians and so many others can indeed touch us as much as familiar people do. I really liked her novels. Well written but approachable and filled with emotions without being over sentimental. She was a New Englander too.

  3. There is something which is very near us in certains novels.
    I do appreciate Anita Shreve …. where are her novels … on which bookshelf ?
    Thank you for this beautiful post – spirituel et émouvant – – amicalement – france

  4. C’est vrai.
    Je ne suis pas certaine de comprendre ta question, mais si tu te demandes où trouver les romans d’Anita Shreve traduits en français, voici le lien d’Amazon France:
    Je suis sûre que tu peux aussi en trouver en librairie, surtout les best-sellers.
    Merci pour ta visite, France.

  5. Always, Evelyne, the power of words to move and shape us. Several years ago, I went with Peggy to her high school reunion. As I was sitting there with Peggy, classmates started coming up and asking about her mom who had been a high school English teacher there. Not only did they ask about her, they insisted on reciting poems she had required they learn 40 years earlier. I thought, what a beautiful way to be remembered. She and I often had fun quoting poetry together.
    Helen passed away yesterday at 97, dying peacefully. –Curt

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