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Authors: Anne Leclaire

The Lavender Hour

Praise for Anne LeClaire

The Lavender Hour

The Lavender Hour
tells a compelling story about how a very private and beautiful relationship becomes public and misunderstood. The characters are strong and memorable. This is Anne D. LeClaire's best book yet.”

, author of
In the Gloaming and Think of England

“In this utterly absorbing novel, Anne LeClaire expertly maps the terrain of love, loss, illness, and family bonds while focusing her compassionate yet unflinching eye on the truth and consequences of the hasty heart. She has created, in Jessie, a complex character who will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.”

, author of
How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life

“LeClaire packs this winning novel with resounding life lessons and a resonating set of romantic relationships.”

Kirkus Reviews

The Law of Bound Hearts

“Once again, Anne LeClaire has given life on the page to characters we care about. Here is the work of a natural-born storyteller.”

, author of
The Usual Rules

“A lovely novel whose characters surprise us with their humor and strength… LeClaire writes dialogue that could come directly from our own real lives.”

, author of
Rich in Love

The Law of Bound Hearts
unfolds with such precision and power that it kept me turning pages way into the night, spellbound.”

, author of
The Sunday Wife

“A gripping, emotional intensity and depth of feeling highlight this poignant and lyrical novel, which illustrates how precious life is.”

Romantic Times

“Recommended… LeClaire has crafted authentic characters and successfully portrays the power of forgiveness.”

Library Journal

Leaving Eden

“Tallie is a likable, energetic character, a smart girl with big dreams…
Leaving Eden
is a light, breezy novel about serious subjects. It's eventful, with a lingering death, a murder, a secret revealed, to say nothing of a makeover.”

The Boston Globe

“Anne D. LeClaire's wonderful new novel is that rarest of all treasures: a book that breaks your heart even as it makes your spirit soar. Just like life.”

, author of
The Yokota Officers Club

“Funny, heartbreaking, and deeply honest, Leaving Eden is an intensely moving novel about the complex ties that bind a mother and daughter together.”

, author of
Distant Shores

“You won't want to leave Eden!”


“Anne D. LeClaire's latest novel is an evocative and moving story filled with women's wisdom. If you liked Entering Normal as much as I did, you'll love Leaving Eden”

, author of
Bad Girl Creek

“Artfully crafted characters resonate within this emotional novel detailing one girl's ability to face the hardships of her life. This novel simmers with the diversity of small-town life—from the witticisms of the Tuesday senior citizen's club at the salon to the awakenings of a young girl's heart. Ms. LeClaire's ability to make the setting and its characters come alive makes the reader feel like Eden exists beyond the pages of this novel.”

Romantic Times

“Tallie is an endearing character, and the Southern banter of the ladies at the beauty parlor where she works is pitch-perfect…. LeClaire's homey storytelling goes down easy.”

Publishers Weekly

Entering Normal

“Exquisite… a beauty… If you love the feel of Anne Tyler's novels, then this has your name all over it.”

Daily Mirror

“It's an ancient truth, the axiom that tells us that what life does not offer us in the way of pain, we'll provide for ourselves. Anne LeClaire's fine, deceptively gentle new book, Entering Normal, takes that truth, shakes it, cradles it, and turns it on end…. This story of a life-changing friendship between generations is so full of risk and wisdom, I'm jealous that I didn't write it myself.”


“A deeply affecting novel about the extraordinary ways in which ordinary people struggle to find their share of happiness and hope and love and connection—and ultimately succeed.”

, author of
Vinegar Hill

“In rich and limpid prose, LeClaire shifts the point of view… focusing on the small acts that get us through the day, or the night, or not. A woman's book in the best possible sense, this will leave readers warmed and satisfied.”


Also by Anne LeClaire

The Law of Bound Hearts

Entering Normal

Leaving Eden


Grace Point

Every Mother's Son

Land's End

In memory of

Morgan Keefe,

David Doane,


Arthur Woessner

The mere sense of living is joy enough.


author's note

and its towns are geographic realities, and specific places mentioned do exist, all the characters that people the pages of this book are creations solely of imagination and are not based on any individuals, living or dead. Jessie's story, too, is a conception only of this author's imagination and is not based on an actual incident.


that no book is written alone, and this -one is no exception.

To Gina Centrello, Kim Hovey, Ingrid Powell, Rebecca Shapiro, and the stellar team at Ballantine, a multitude of thanks. To Allison Dickens, my gratitude for your honesty, support, wisdom, and your critical eye. I feel so fortunate to have landed in your editorial lap. And last, but a country mile from least, thanks to Nancy Miller.

To Deborah Schneider, valued friend, champion, and agent extraordinaire, my gratitude is boundless. You deserve to have more than a room named in your honor.

To all those involved in hospice who opened your hearts to me and shared stories that deepened my understanding of sacred territory I have not traversed, my deepest respect and gratitude. This book would not have been possible without your help, understanding, and numerous kindnesses. Thanks especially to Andrea McGee, Mike Walsh, Robert Chase, and Eileen Urquhart, hospice volunteer coordinator of the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod.

To Eunice Reisman, profound gratitude for your support and for sharing so generously with me your history and experience.

During the period in which I was working on this book, whenever I needed information or knowledge, the writing muses sent the right people to stand in my path. I am indebted to each. To First Assistant District Attorney Michael Trudeau, the staff at the Barn-stable County Law Library, Lieutenant Robert Melia of the Massachusetts State Police, and Dr. Barry Conant, thank you for your
generosity, your patience, and for returning my calls. The knowledge is all yours, any mistakes solely mine.

To artist Anne Wilson, thanks for conversations about the use of hair in art. I also found the Collector's Encyclopedia of Hairwork Jewelry invaluable. And certainly the works of Dr. Bernie Siegel proved inspirational.

To James Blake, thanks for the log entries from your transatlantic sail. I am in awe. And to Lyn Mendalla and Carlton Neuben, thanks for the stories.

There exist on this planet havens for artists that provide time and space in which to create. I am especially indebted to the Rag-dale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Amherst, Virginia. Throughout the years, both have blessed me with numerous writing fellowships. To the staffs of both, and especially to Susan Tillett and Suny Monk, I offer gratitude. It is not enough.

Thanks, too, to the other writers who sustain and support me: Alice Elliott Dark, Jebba Handley, Ann Stevens, Virginia Reiser, Sara Young, Joan Anderson, Chris Leighton, Paula Sergi, and Jackie Mitchard. Because of you, I am a better writer.

And to Hillary and Hope and Chris, my deepest love. Because of you, I am a better person.


back to that spring. As I recall that particular April morning, I see it clear. I watch myself as I walk through patches of snow toward a lavender door, my boots sinking into thawing ground, chewing a stick of sugarless gum, nervous as hell and wondering what I've gotten myself in for. It seems now as if I am remembering a different woman. And in a way, of course, I am.


Mama told me that hard memories soften eventually. I trust that she's right. I mean there's just so much that can trigger a memory, set it reeling in motion, catch you off guard before you can provide against it. Just yesterday, while I was running on the beach, I thought I heard someone shout out his name. Luke. But when I turned, I saw it was only a young woman calling to her child and pointing toward a blue heron that soared overhead in glorious, awkward flight. “Look,” she called. One word, misheard, yet it was enough to bring me to my knees.

The boy stared at me. “Mommy,” he said, “that lady's crying.”


Faye says that the elderly and the dying live in their memories because it is less painful for them to look back than it is to look ahead. What I wonder is, what past is it that they return to? The poet William Matthews says the past is the little we remember.

Not quite true. The past, the one we return to when there is nowhere else to go, is not the little we remember but the shreds we have bent and shaped and revised until they are formed into
memories we can bear to recall. Prudently screened fragments we can live with.

And even then…

that fall and the trial. Sitting in the witness stand while the DA quizzed me about the final day. Looking out over the crammed courtroom, past the only television camera the judge had permitted, scanning the faces of strangers, finding Lily, searching for Faye, thinking about the dark places sorrow can lead us into. Thinking about the glory and tenacity of love and of the consequences we pay for loving.

I looked for Faye and thought not of the final day but of the first. The end from which the beginning followed.

A spring snow. A lavender door. And, waiting inside, Luke.

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