Fan Mail

For a perfect read, find Elizabeth Strout in the shelves….

March 10, 2006
Ms. Elizabeth Strout
c/o The Random House Publishing Group Publicity
1745 Broadway 18th Floor
New York, NY 10019

Dear Ms. Strout,

I never write letters like this, so please bear with me if I begin to babble too soon. I recently read a magazine blurb about your new March 14th book release during an unusually long stint in the Target EXPRESS (but I digress) check-out lane. I realized that I immediately smiled and began a better day and had an urge to let you know why.

You see, I feel like I know you. I attended the annual Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium at the Mississippi University for Women in 2001, at which you spoke about your life’s windy path back to writing and read selections from Amy and Isabelle. I will never forget that conference, because, for somewhat unexplained reasons to me at the time, I spontaneously cried (as inconspicuously as possible) through a lot of it.

I majored in Journalism (at the time, the only writing-related field at the school) my first attempt at college in the early 1980’s and had several, honestly many, jobs completely unrelated to writing pursuits since. My career path eventually forced me into computer-related work strictly for financial single-parent reasons. So, in 2001, I was a Systems Developer. And lost. And sad. And miserable. It was as though you were reading my mind. I had gone into so many jobs that didn’t matter, just to avoid possibly failing at the one I really felt called to do.

This day being an up-close observer of the academic world and the writing world, and present in an area of the United States full of such culture and history was the first time I realized the connection between spirituality and authenticity. And I had ignored both most of my life.

Listening to you tell us about your life and your writing life comforted and inspired me so much. I bought your book and it is still one of my all-time favorites. Only two books in my life (and I consider myself a regular, if not avid, reader) have made me immediately miss the characters upon reading the last sentence: your Amy and Isabelle and Elinor Lipman’s Then She Found Me.

The theme of the conference was “A Kindred Soul to Laugh With” and you will always be that to this fan. A writer sometimes has no idea of the lasting effect she has on even the most inconspicuous audience member. Thus, the universal tug I felt to write and tell you how much I look forward to reading Abide With Me and appreciate just knowing that you’re out there writing.

I’m so excited! A new book! And it’s in Maine (my favorite place in the world)!

Thank you!
Karen Rutherford
Indianapolis, Indiana