God Save the Queen

This past Sunday, November 13, was “Remembrance Sunday” in Great Britain. Everywhere this month as in every month of November for nearly a century, red poppies made of silk or paper or plastic, collected in exchange for donations to the “Poppy Appeal” of the Royal...

I Feel Bad About My Leg

I have to be honest. I’ve been a little sad lately—and not just lately, actually, but for a while. It’s not a feeling of despondency or despair or even depression (whatever that means), so much as a sort of ache that is by now almost familiar. Nothing is...

Pilgrim’s Progress

It has been a little more than a year, now. I remember well the day. It was filled with the kind of eruptions seemingly about nothing in particular that, in a marriage, are too often the harbingers of something very particular. Such arguments always seem random and...

Au Revoir

The French have a wonderful way of saying goodbye that seems appropriate for the start of a sailing voyage. It’s not goodbye at all but rather, “until we meet again.” I write these words late at night in a café in Calais whose lovely and charming wait staff have...

Down the Rabbit Hole with Border Control

Well, it’s official. Queen Elizabeth and I have finally come to a parting of the ways. And so it seems only fitting at this time to say farewell and look back at my six-month sojourn in that “green and pleasant land” of my grandfather’s birth. An essay about what I...

The French Law of Pastry and Women

Somehow, I always knew it would be the French—that they would have the answers to the burning questions about life and love. And, of course, they do. As I sit alone here in Paris, that liveliest and loveliest of cities, this wisdom came to me in an unexpected,...

A Few Thoughts Before The Voyage

A nd so it begins. Another vessel. Another voyage. Another harbor. Another long-awaited, dreamed-of, hoped-for landfall. The old gnawing fear, once more. The old intelligence that always listens to fear for what counsel it may offer, met by the same understanding that...

The Passage to Come

News from London, 4 February 2016 . . . It is finished! At exactly 2:20 p.m. today, I typed the last keystroke of my latest novel, The Passage. It is 94,626 words and 378 pages in all. For the sake of comparison, that’s roughly as long as The Hobbit (95,022...