MAUD’S HOUSE by Sherry Roberts

MaudThis delightful book about an artist who lost her mojo and talks to her dead husband in the cemetery, and her friends and the townspeople in the small Vermont town of Rounded Corners was first published in ummm the 90’s, I think, went out of print and now the author has brought it out in eformat.  Yea!

Maud started off as a little girl who was being raised by her widowed father who allowed her to paint on the walls, and the furniture and wherever she wanted.  Turns out she was a pretty good artist, and as she grew, the exterior of the house was covered with her art, as much as the interior, it began to attract tourists from all over who came to see it.  she tells us

I worked mostly on the large side.  I painted murals so big and true they were mistaken for real life.  Once, while my father was visiting Aunt Marian in Buffalo, I painted a replica of the bard door on the side of the barn.  In the painting, you could see Milky Way [the family cow] waiting for breakfast.  The first day home from Aunt Marian’s, papa trudged out into the misty morning to do chores.  “Hold your horses, Milky Way,” he mumbled, rubbing his eyes, buttoning his jacket plowing straight into the painting.  Almost broke his nose.  Yes, once I was that good.

Her father died, and on that same day, a man came to see the house, and she and the guy fell in love and were married shortly after.  The prob was that George was a real estate kind of guy.  He actually didn’t like the house and wanted to paint over all the craziness with a nice pristine white.   He gathered up all of Maud’s supplies and created a beautiful attic studio with a skylight in which to put them.  She couldn’t paint a lick in that place, and her art dwindled and dwindled and dimmed until all she did was postcards that she sold at the local diner.

Thirteen years after their marriage, George died in a car accident, and his secretary mourned louder and more vociferously at the funeral than did Maud.  As the story progresses, we are given hints that perhaps George was on his way to leaving Maud that fateful day.

This is a story of a town and its denizens, as much as it is about Maud and her creative juices.  There’s T-Bone, her best friend and bachelor neighbor, dairy farmer extraordinaire, Wynn the pregnant cosmologist, Reverend Swan who even at age 60 has never gotten over his stage fright every time he has to give a sermon, and relies more on his saxaphone to deliver the Lord’s message,  Ella, the postmistress who writes poetry, and her husband Frank, who runs the general store, and Odie, the Sheriff and selectman.  He campaigned on a promise to bring more art to Round Corners.  It didn’t matter that no one ever ran against Odie.  Everyone liked him and didn’t see any reason to upset the status quo.  And there was the young man who came to see the house, and had a picture of his father in front of it.  “Where are the pictures?”  he wanted to know.  But the house had been painted white.  He arrived in a beatup van.  Maud invited him to stay the night, which turned into a several month visit.

Someone called this book “a madcap comedy.”   No it wasn’t.  It was warm, and humorous and sad and delightful, but madcap it wasn’t.  Do read it and see for yourself.

Mz. Roberts has also written Book of Mercy, which I have just started.  I’ll let you know what I think about that one when I have finished it.

I wish I had artistic talent.  If I did, I would paint pictures all over all the walls, inside and out, of my house.  I surely would.


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