Last night was well spent in the company of Doris Kearns Goodwin at Messiah College. She calls the Presidents she writes about “my guys.” She wakes up and goes to bed thinking about them. Abe, LBJ, Teddy and FDR could all tell a good yarn. Doris can too. She has us picturing Teddy Roosevelt at whistle stops, charming locals with his homey aphorisms (and mistaking a distant herd of cattle for unfriendly bystanders). LBJ in his swimming pool, surrounded by floats bearing phones, notepads, the stuff of work. Daniel Day Lewis accepting an award (Lincoln) and teasing that he went binge drinking with her. Wandering through White House bedrooms at 1 am with Bill and Hillary, puzzling over which historical figure from FDR’s era slept where, to discover that she was sleeping in Churchill’s room. She/we even talked baseball. And Doris, if the Q&A had not ended too soon, I would have teased you too, about the Giants winning the World Series. (You could hardly object, now that you’re a BoSox fan.)
Yes, the Sharon estate really did exist, and Mag and Robert Henderson certainly loved their gardens. This intimate and mysterious Sharon pathway draws us in, anticipating the secret garden beyond. The light is haunting, isn’t it? But that’s not what stunned me when I found this photograph. By the time I was born, the estate no longer existed. Yet I have seen this garden entrance! Maggie and Robert’s grandson, Marcus–my grandfather–recreated it on his Carlisle farm, also along the Letort Spring. His wife Harriet kept their gardens beautiful. Marriet Farm, they called it. The girl who there spent countless hours exploring, would one day write about these gardens now hidden by time.
The publisher wants to know my ideas for the cover of SOLDIER’S HEART. I passed along a few thoughts but I really want to hear from readers on this.