Lanier Ivester and I have been friends for fifteen years, but our kinship predates our knowing each other. We both spent girlhood Christmases, hers in the South and mine in Connecticut, tying red ribbons on anything or anyone that would hold still for long enough. We both urged our mothers on in baking and hosting and decking the halls, and we both cried bitter tears when it was all over, feeling The Thud of Christmas passed.
She and I both married remarkably well—in fact, our husbands are how we crashed into each other’s worlds. Philip and Luke grew up together, their parents being great, old friends.
Lanier and Philip live in a rambling antebellum house with wonky wood floors and wavy glass windows. The Ruff House stands on the Ivesters’ farm in the city, where they tend sheep, goats, chickens, five cats, two dogs, two peacocks, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Okay, there’s no partridge. Yet.)
One thing you will notice instantly about Lanier: She writes like a dream. Lanier’s real and tender and funny and wicked smart. Did I mention she’s smart? Lanier writes for The Rabbit Room and is working on earning a degree in English from Oxford University. The one in England. She and Philip also make books. Literally, they unearthed an ancient press, and Lanier spends something like three-hundred hours binding each book by hand. Lanier doesn’t shy away from what she calls “labors of love.” (I, on the other hand, do.)
The Ivesters recently took on another labor of love, a sailboat, Evenstar. She’s a beauty, but, being advanced in years, has an issue or two requiring elbow grease and ingenuity. Philip and Lanier plan to sail off into the sunset, after they manage to get Evenstar out of the marina.
Lanier also: sings, sews, hangs wallpaper, has a closet full of vintage dresses, cooks things out of Dickens novels like oyster pie and plum pudding, plays the piano and guitar, speaks French, and dabbles in watercolors. I like her anyway.