At present, I’m reading Lynn Rainville’s thoughtful and well-written book Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia.  I’ve had the honor of working with Lynn in an number of ways, and last week, I got to walk through a historic cemetery in Charlottesville, VA.  41LPIGF6TIL

There, I saw her passion – the way she cared for these places and the stories and lives they carry.  It’s a love affair of the highest order.

At one place, we found that a groundhog had dug down into the ground, presumably to a grave.  Lynn stood for long minutes and stared at the hole. . . then, despite a painful back injury, she began trying to fill in the hole.  These people deserved her protection.

Every broken gravestone, every neglected grave . . . I could see her sadden.  These markers deserve more, her down-turned mouth said silently.

As I read these pages, I see Lynn’s face.  Each cemetery that is overgrown. Each almost unknown set of graves. Each marker worn away from neglect and years . . . it’s as if she’s losing pieces of her own story . . . and maybe she is. . . . maybe we all are.

***

I’ve been reading Maria Murnane’s work since her first book – Perfect on Paper – reached my mailbox many years ago.  I was taken immediately with her protagonist, Waverly Bryson, and the fresh way Murnane wrote “women’s” fiction.  I liked Waverly immediately – she was smart and funny and self-assured. . . .

And in her new book, Cassidy Lane, I find another protagonist I love – a writer in her late 30s, a woman witty and normally-confidant but struck silly but the prospect of love.  I can relate to this woman.

It’s a love story, but it’s as much about a woman knowing to love herself as it is about romance.  I highly recommend this book today, on this Valentine’s Day.

Not traditional Valentine’s recommendations here, I know, but I’m one for celebrating love in any form it comes . . . in the passion for the people buried in oft-forgotten cemeteries and in the love we must learn to show ourselves as women. 

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.  What love stories do you recommend?