Thursday, February 9, 2012

Guest Post: Dorothy James

Today I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post from Dorothy James, author of A Place to Die. You can grab her book here at Amazon.

Stashing Granny
Yesterday I read an article in the Huffington Post by Ann Brenoff with the provocative title: ”Stashing Granny in a Backyard Shed “  (  Today there are already pages of comments. It is a catchy title and the pitch is humorous: “ . . . as much as you love Mom, you really don’t want her under the same roof . . .”   The “backyard shed” turns out to be a do-it-yourself  construction kit for a $60,000 largely pre-fabricated house, not the worst idea to save your mother from “the assisted living place with the awful medicinal smell.”  However the many comments, pro and contra, illustrate what a hot topic this is.

What caught my eye, and at first glance turned my stomach, was the phrase “stashing Granny.”  Consider yourself for a moment if you can, not as a  son or daughter with a parental or grandparental problem, but as a Granny or Grandpa.  Do you want to be stashed?

This question is close to my heart because I have written and published a murder mystery called “A Place to Die,” set in a retirement home in Vienna. I did this in the first instance because it occurred to me that a retirement home was an ideal setting for a murder mystery – a large country house, a set of characters who weren’t going anywhere, who because they were by definition old had long lives behind them full of stories and secrets, lives that stretched back to the Vienna of the Nazi and post-Nazi period, a fascinating time to explore. I gave myself a fictional entrĂ©e into this world through an American baby-boomer-age couple visiting the husband’s mother who has been “stashed” in the home.  I did not of course think of this word at the time, but it is true that the mother is not happy about being there and she is there because her family cannot cope any longer with her living alone.

The novel is not really about this quite common dilemma – it is a murder mystery and the plot centers on the detection of the crime.   But in writing the novel, where the suspects as well as the victim are all old, some older than 90, I found myself delving into their lives, thoughts and feelings, seeing them not as items in the lives of others, people to be “stashed” somewhere out of the way, but people of pride and passion, happiness and misery, pettiness and greatness.  People, in other words, just like the rest of us.


  1. Thanks very much for giving me the chance to write this guest post. I look forward to hearing from your readers and to reading more of your very appealing blog myself.

  2. Kristin, thanks for hosting Dorothy today. I think she hits on such a great point - many people are placed in retirement homes to be forgotten and ignored - truly, stashed away out of sight. Thanks Dorothy for reminding us that they deserve to have a voice since they have such rich life stories to tell.


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