Reeve, 67, lives in Vermont and has written a number of books for children and adults, along with periodic book reviews for The Washington Post. She drew the entries for “Against Wind and Tide” from writings her mother left unpublished when she died in 2001. Covering the years 1947-1986, the book is the sixth and final volume of Anne’s diaries and letters.
Before a gathering of friends and admirers at the glass-walled contemporary-style home of Heidi Hatfield and Charles Karelis in Northwest D.C., Reeve said she took the title of this new collection from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s description of her tireless career as a writer. And of course, the phrase resonates well with Anne’s most famous work, “Gift from the Sea.”
“This is a fresh voice,” Reeve said. “There are things in here that surprised me. My mother seems very reverent toward my father. Then later, not at all reverent toward my father, which, of course, I enjoyed!”
As a light rain started to fall on the guests assembled on the slate patio, Reeve read a passage from her mother’s diary dated 1949. It was a revision of Anne’s wedding vows, written on the 20th anniversary of her marriage to America’s most famous aviator: “I, a most imperfect person, take you, also imperfect, to be my husband, in that most imperfect but also most challenging and rewarding of all relationship. . . . I do not promise to love you. Of course, I do love you, deeply, sincerely, humbly. But to promise to feel exactly this way always would be like promising never to grow a grey hair.”
“They were always very strong partners,” Reeve said, “and increasingly, they were protective of one another’s independence.”
The collection covers Anne’s growing fame as a writer, her challenges raising a family, and her reactions to the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War and the women’s movement.
After the guests moved inside to avoid the rain, Reeve spoke about her relationship with her mother. “When I lost my son when he was 2, around the same age she lost her son, her help for me was extraordinary.” And then she quoted from her mother’s last letter in “Against Wind and Tide:” “I know we fret that anniversaries mark distance, that time is bearing those we love and have lost further way. But perhaps we have too linear a sense of time. Time is perhaps, as the old Mexicans felt, not a river running away, but an ocean around us in which we are steeped. . . . My love is around you!”