Y H B H S (card catalog) selection 19

Liz Arnold, writer, New York
"“It is the hour of lamps."

My Mother's House and Sido
by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

"As a writer obsessed with interiors and how we live in them, I’m completely absorbed in rereading La Maison de Claudine by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. The 1922 novel, translated as My Mother’s House by the beloved author known as Colette, is a collection of portraits about the author’s family, particularly the mother-daughter bond, using memories in the home to develop character relationships.

In one of my favorite vignettes, the young Colette is rhapsodizing to a childhood friend at dusk about her dreams of becoming a world traveler. But she sees the glow of the lamp in the window of her home, and her mother’s silver thimble as she sews inside. “It is the hour of lamps,” she writes. Colette heeds the feminine call, returning quickly to her mother and setting up the reader for the subtle conflict that plays out in the rather plotless but beautiful book: the tension between mother and daughter, the intimate and public, and the traditional and the hope for change."

- Liz Arnold


Liz Arnold is the author of Homebodies, a blog about the homes of people she visits. She also writes about homes she’s never visited for a number of glossy shelter magazines. Her work has appeared in Real Simple, Luxe Interiors + Design, The Guardian, and The New York Times, among others. Liz is working toward her MFA in nonfiction at the Bennington Writing Seminars. She’ll graduate in June.