Edith Macefield, Novelist

When I saw the late Edith Macefield's little house on the first page of the New York Times' National section this morning, I expected Bill Yardley's piece to be the typical bureau chief's reheating of a story that'd been thoroughly vetted by local press. But Yardley's piece, which is centered on a potential legal scrum for control of the solitary Macefield's estate and features a great quote from Mike's Chili Parlor owner Mike Semandiris ("She didn't give a damn about preserving old Ballard. The lady just wanted to live in her house."), actually reveals something fascinating: that the octagenarian who made national headlines for her refusal to to sell out to big-box developers had authored a novel. And not just any novel, but a novel of over 1,000 pages. Here's the key expert: "In a bookcase in a dark hallway there is another book, not well known like the others. In fact, it is unclear whether anyone other than its author has ever read Where Yesterday Began. Ms. Macefield paid to have her novel published in 1994, under the pen name Domilini. It is set against the backdrop of post-World War I Europe...The book is 1,138 pages long, not counting the musical references, from Scottish folk songs to a 1915 work by the English composer Albert W. Ketelbey, and a 16-page glossary of the French, German and Italian phrases sprinkled throughout."

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