When I feel unsettled, due to events both large and small, I find myself turning to the books of Laurie Colwin. She is the author of three collections of short stories, five novels and two books about food and cooking, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. Her books are warm and funny and observant. There is also a bittersweet quality to them that comes from knowing Laurie Colwin’s story. She died when she was 48-years-old—suddenly, in her sleep, of heart failure. She left her husband, their young daughter, and thousands of devoted readers. That was in 1992, and her books are still in print.
Her subjects were home and family. Jonathan Yardley of The Washington Post, wrote that Colwin’s “most direct literary ancestor was Jane Austen.” But, as anyone who has read her work knows, she was also a fan of popular music. One of my favorite Colwin novels is Goodbye Without Leaving, a book about a woman who is the only white backup singer in a soul group. I also love her novel about motherhood, A Big Storm Knocked It Over. It was published in 1994—posthumously.
Colwin began her career as an editor in New York, but left the publishing world to become a writer herself. She wrote a regular column for Gourmet magazine which gave her an opportunity to write about the importance of celebration and ritual in our busy lives. Home Cooking and More Home Cooking are soothing reads—they are like spending time with an old and trusted friend. Try the recipe for Katherine Hepburn’s brownies which is included in volume 2. They would be perfect treats for a book club meeting.