The Characters

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It feels important to me to say that Charles and Lily and James and Nan are utterly fictional characters. I took three facts from my childhood church: that there were co-ministers, one had an autistic son, and a school for autistic children was built in the church building. From those facts, I spun a story very different from the truth. Visually, my characters are based on old photos of my parents and their friends. Above: My very first day at church! That carriage is the one Lily’s aunts give her, except Lily’s is navy blue.

My mom in my parents’ first apartment in New York. This outfit is very much like the one Lily wears on her first date with Charles. That apartment was in Hayden Hall, on the south end of Washington Square Park, and this would have been just about the time my mother got her job as the receptionist at First Presbyterian—which is how this whole story began.

My mom in my parents’ first apartment in New York. This outfit is very much like the one Lily wears on her first date with Charles. That apartment was in Hayden Hall, on the south end of Washington Square Park, and this would have been just about the time my mother got her job as the receptionist at First Presbyterian—which is how this whole story began.

My dad in my parents’ first apartment. He doesn’t look like Charles, but I do think Charles probably had an overcoat just like that, and was always carrying books under his arm.

My dad in my parents’ first apartment. He doesn’t look like Charles, but I do think Charles probably had an overcoat just like that, and was always carrying books under his arm.

The Dearly Beloved  ends with a christening. Here’s a photo from my own baptism. I don’t think Lily would have worn my mom’s pattern, but I know Nan would have loved the other woman’s shade of orange!

The Dearly Beloved ends with a christening. Here’s a photo from my own baptism. I don’t think Lily would have worn my mom’s pattern, but I know Nan would have loved the other woman’s shade of orange!