The Mystery of the Afghan Revealed

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I love the cover of Shelter Me, and I can say that without a hint of self-satisfaction because I had nothing to do with it. Not a thing. In fact, I had no idea of where the photo had been taken, who’s in it, or where that gorgeous rainbow of an afghan came from …

Until last week. Last week I got an email from a man named Raymond Forbes who told me:

“I am the photographer who took the photo on the front of your book. It was a pleasant surprise to be walking through my local Barnes & Noble and see your book on the shelf.”

He went on to tell me that it had been taken in Marshfield, Mass. — which, while not quite on Cape Cod as I had suspected, definitely has that South Shore/Cape feel, with the marsh grasses and the hydrangeas. The woman is his wife, Elizabeth, and the boy is his nephew, Luke.

I replied with many thanks for his wonderful picture, which I feel so fortunate to have gracing the cover of my book. But what about the afghan?

“Do you own it?” I asked.

His reply: “The afghan blanket was knit by my wife’s grandmother back in the 70s. It is a one of a kind … kind of a mish mash of whatever leftover yarn she had.”

There went my thoughts of offering to buy it. Better for his wife to have such a warm, colorful remembrance of her grandmother. I have my grandma’s dining room set; Elizabeth has the afghan. As it should be.

If you’d like to see more of Raymond’s work, his website it

11 Responses to “The Mystery of the Afghan Revealed”

  1. Stephanie Elliot Says:

    March 22nd, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Even though I read the book a long while ago when it first came out, I loved reading these comments and remembered reading the book and how much I loved it!

  2. Bob Tice Says:

    August 5th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Dear Juliette:

    I am the first man to contribute to this blog — or to any blog, ever — but, hey, I am a secure male like Tug.

    I just finished Shelter Me, just one week short of the one year mark (Aug 13th, 2009) of my wife Polly’s passing due to breast-to-brain cancer. While I would not have been able to read the book even a couple of months ago, let alone several months ago, reading it last week was an important additional piece in my continuing journey in grief and recovery. (Polly often read books of this genre, so I finally wanted a book like I thought she would read. Thank you for one I am sure she would have read and said to me, “This is a good book………”)

    There are several parallels in my own situation and the book. Let me share a few:

    One, Juliette, you never fall into cliches or myths regarding what it is like to have to walk through the death of a truly and deeply loved spouse. Like Janie’s Robby, Polly was my very best friend, my soulmate, and just an outstanding person, wife and mother. Like a theme in your book, she “got” me. And being “gotten” is one of life’s greatest gifts. ( We too had/have two children, although they are older and Polly was 51 when she passed away.) You respect grief, as a necesarry and profound expression of love, and neither view it as anything but a radical bomshell in one’s life, nor with the false idea that somehow “recovery” is getting completely over or totally leaving behind the person you were so bonded to.

    Two, the theme of “grace” — if I can call it that here — is done so well in your book; the way that even in the midst of awful pain, loss and sadness, life ( and I believe, a loving God) keeps presenting us with “miracle” moments, even right in the middle of some of the worst experiences. Part of this, of course, comes through the people in our lives — some close, some not so close; some new on the scene, even strangers, but some familiar; some very mature, but some as weird as they come. Like in your book, much of this comes at the point of Robby’s death by way of Janie’s relatives and closer friends, and some of these people are just not up to the moment, while others totally surprize you in their capacity to get it. I too have seen how several people in my own life, whom I had hoped would be extremely understanding and supportive, just simply have faded away or been almost completely incapable of providing some “shelter” — for various reasons — while some others have seemingly just emerged out of nowhere, or have re-emerged unexpectedly, but intentionally, to be as helpful as they can.

    Finally, I also am a pastor, though Protestant, and despite the fact that you didn’t shy away from the scandalous behavior of so many clergy, you also were able to present the reader with the GOOD examples — in Jake — as one who was/is thoroughly human, but also as one with a genuine and compelling faith in the midst of his struggles.

    Thank you for a a fictitious story that none the less has the ring of the many true-to-life stories that abound among us, stories of love, goodness, hope and healing, all in the midst of sorrow and our human imperfections. And yes, there is a good “preacher” inside your novelist’s head, heart and spirit. Thank you.

    One curious note: Unless I am mistaken — perhaps I missed it — there is no reference anywhere to Robby’s family. Intriguing, unless I missed it. Keep up the great work. Your efforts are connecting with real lives all around you though you will never meet the vast majority of them.

    Pastor Bob Tice,
    Buffalo, NY

  3. Pamela Bryant Says:

    July 30th, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I just finished your book Shelter Me and hate to see it end. I LOVE all the “Pelham” references! Can’t wait for the next book. Thank you for sharing Cochituate with the world.

  4. Linda Says:

    June 22nd, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I have to relay a little story related to the cover of your book.

    In April, my family flew to Arizona to spend Easter week with my husband’s brother, his wife and son, Luke. As we entered the house, my sister in law showed me your book that she had framed, hanging in her home. She told me that our nephew was on the cover. Of course, I immediately recognized his distinctive haircut. I told her I would have to buy the book and have Luke sign it for me.
    A few days later in Scottsdale mall, as I was searching for the book, my cell phone rang. It was my sister in Massachusetts telling me she had a recommendation for my book club.

    I told her I was in the mall searching for “Shelter Me” because my nephew was on the cover. She told me that her book club had read it and she had met the author and my book club would love it. I thought it was quite a coincidence.

    So, it is my choice for our August meeting. Plus,I have a great show and tell story to go along with my book choice.
    One other little connection… about 5 years ago, when my sister in law was visiting us here in NY, she came to book club with me. So, they all will have met the mother of the boy on your cover and the sister of the photographer. And she is originally from MA.

    I have just started the book and am loving it so far.
    Maybe someday when I am visiting my sister, I will run into you at the bagel shop!

  5. Josephine Howe Says:

    January 3rd, 2010 at 1:53 am

    I just finished reading Shelter Me and loving being immersed in your book for the last day. I felt sheltered too by all the love and the real people in the story. I was widowed almost 14 years ago and I could certainly relate to not knowing if I was ready for this wonderful comfortable relationship that came my way and also remember the initial guilt and panic when I helped the man who later became my husband tear the porch off his cabin—work like the kind I had done with my husband who had died a year and a half before. I almost had a panic attack until I identified my feelings and brought them forth. Shelter Me is an absolutely wonderful book and I came on-line to see if your next one was out. I was attracted to the book because of the afghan as I crocheted some brightly colored ones in the 70’s myself. Keep writing and I shall keep reading!!!

  6. Linda Marx Says:

    September 22nd, 2009 at 8:47 am

    What a wonderful Book!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I came to your website in hopes there might be other books. I have a friend whose has a birthday soon and had hoped to buy her an additional Julliette Fay book. Please email when the next novel is completed, I will become one of your best customers.

    Thanks so much for the joy of reading “Shelter Me”

  7. Sylvia Carter Says:

    July 20th, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Just finished “Shelter Me” and really enjoyed it. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that I couldn’t put down. I look forward to your future books – hopefully soon!

  8. Karen Smiley Says:

    July 13th, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I have never commented to an author before but I had to tell you that I spent all day yesterday reading your book from cover to cover…I could not put it down…I LOVED it! Thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful story…I wasn’t sure Janie would be strong enough in the beginning but she gained so much strength and wisdom on the journey…enough to protect her children and open herself to all the new possibilities of life…I hope you are almost ready to publish another story…I will be looking for it! Thank you!

  9. Betty Korpisto Says:

    July 12th, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I just finished reading “Shelter Me” and had a good cry – didn’t want the story to be over as I’d become so invested in your characters. There was so much food for thought in your story.

    I, too, have read Marisa De Los Santos’ Belong to Me and Love Walked In (in that order) and was just as caught up in them as with your story.

    Thank you for giving me this wonderful reading experience. I eagerly await your next novel.

    Betty Korpisto
    Okanagan Valley
    British Columbia, Canada

  10. Ambimom Says:

    May 18th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I am half-way through “Shelter Me.” What a triumph. I’m laughing one minute and sobbing the next. I haven’t been this moved by a book since “The Color Purple.” I can’t stop reading it and yet I don’t want it to end. I can’t wait for your next volume. Thank you for writing!

  11. Leslie/DiDi Says:

    February 10th, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    What a great story! It is woven (sorry) with the serendipity of your book itself. Letting go of your wish to have the Afghan is typical of the practical wisdom that Janie gathers from within and from her quirky friends to find some pretty neat ways to keep going. Thanks so much for sharing the news.

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