Laurie Colwin: The Domestic Sensualist
There is one author whose books have moved with us to every single place we’ve lived. We turn to her when we’re sick, sad, exhausted, or stressed — and yet we’ve also read her books on airplanes and sunny Mexican rooftop decks and in Manhattan lofts on rainy days. For those of you who have not yet discovered her magical writing, we offer you a gift: Laurie Colwin.
Colwin offers comfort food in the form of words, and while best known for her memoir-like food essays, it is her short stories and novels which we hold most dear. She writes of love and family and food and home, with wit and intelligence and insight. No domestic detail goes unnoticed. The protagonist of the title story of the short story collection The Lone Pilgrim talks about “domestic sensualists,” a descriptive that could well apply to many AT readers:
Oh, domesticity! The wonder of dinner plates and cream pitchers. You know your friends by their ornaments. You want everything. If Mrs. A. has her mama’s old jelly mold, you want one too, and everything else that goes with it — the family, the tradition, the years of having jelly molded in it. We domestic sensualists live in a state of longing, no matter how comfortable our own places are.
If you do an internet search for Laurie Colwin, you’ll soon discover that there are a lot of, well, groupies. We keep her books on our nightstands, hope that a longlost manuscript has miraculously been discovered and that the book of her letters has finally seen the light of day. We re-read her books again and again, feel as if she was our friend, and we continue, even 16 years after her sudden death, to be heartbroken that she left this world much too soon.
Image: Kitchen Tour #2: Sally’s Rear Window (which has always seemed Colwin-esque to us)