About Me



I grew up on the South Side of Chicago with my brother Tom, my parents, and many cousins and uncles and aunts.  The most exercise I got was walking up the hill to Walker Branch Library.  Be All You Read, the sign said over the door.   I went to several colleges: Miami of Ohio, University of Illinois, Brown University, and UC Berkeley.

Berkeley is where I had my kids, Patrick and Molly, wearing them on my back while I protested the Viet Nam War.   We moved with their father to London, where we lived for four years.  I spent many hours in the British Library working but spent even more time  at the Geological museum watching the volcano erupt.  The cartoon cinema at Victoria was our favorite stop.  On rainy days we watched every Tom and Jerry ever made.

London is where I first wrote fiction and did research on eighteenth-century crimes against women (like rape and heiress stealing).  I also worked with the Women’s Research and Resources Centre on feminist approaches to literature and life.  After four years, we returned to the states and lived in Brooklyn.  I taught eighteenth century English at NYU, wrote literary criticism and published my first novel: Washed in the Blood  (1983), a noir mystery set in Hollywood.  (You can still get it on the internet for about one dollar.)

In 1978 I reluctantly moved to Boston where I taught English as well as American Immigrant stories and Girls’ Books at Tufts University.  I still miss New York, but have grown to love Boston and Jamaica Plain, where I live with my husband, David Tarbet.  We bought an old house big enough for our four kids–Patrick and Molly and Emily and Andrew.  They grew up into terrific people, living in Boston, Chicago, Portland Maine, and Barcelona.   We have along the way eight grandchildren, seven girls and a boy, and they are learning how to rule the world.


9 comments to About Me

  1. Catie says:

    Were you in Berkeley in 1970? For the anti-war sit-in when Arlo sang “Give Peace A Chance”? Were we sitting next to one another?

    • Carol says:

      You know, Catie,I was there. I wish we had met then. I went to as many anti-war events as I could, bringing my portable infant son Patrick with me, on my back. I’m actually finishing a novel about those days right now; it’s called THE BURNT HILLS, and it’s set in Berkeley from Fall 1969 to July 1970.

      • Catie says:

        Isn’t life beautifully circuitous? We probably did meet. And now we’re meeting again… just a bit differently. Glad to know you.

        • Carol says:

          This is amazing, Catie. When I started this blog I never imagined how it would work. I think that we will meet in the flesh some day, but virtual meetings are quite wonderful in themselves.

          • Catie says:

            Your memoir arrived today. I’ve commenced reading it. And I am taking a break for no reason other than to let you know that I absolutely LOVE it. My darling husband will be eating leftovers for dinner tonight because I cannot bear to stop reading. Truly lovely. Thank you.

          • Carol says:

            This is wild. How did you get it? I thought it wouldn’t be published until May 14. You have magical powers!

  2. Catie says:

    I ordered your book through Amazon. When I placed my order, the site replied that I would receive it sometime in May, I believe. However, a few days after I placed my order, I received an email, from Amazon, telling me that it had been shipped! And I am so glad. I have now finished reading the entire book. It is perfection. I can’t remember the last time I was so engaged with an author’s work. It is truly amazing. I cannot imagine any woman who would fail to connect with it, in the most complete way. Beautifully written and so authentic. Thank you.

    • Carol says:

      Thank you so much. It’s interesting that you say it’s a woman’s book. Maybe I should promote it that way. I like to think of it as a more universal work of defeat and resilience and the attempt to make life better the second time around. Maybe that is a woman’s story.

  3. Catie says:

    Well it is certainly a wonderful book for this woman (me!). And, yes, it is a story of resilience… not so sure about the defeat, though. I didn’t read defeat in the story as there was little, outside the self, to conquer… or not? Of course, the courage to take command of the “rest of” one’s life-journey requires some recognition of defeat, I’m thinking. I found the author’s (yours!) solicitude toward the animals to be beautifully revealing and brilliantly self-aware. And, as you say, perhaps women, more than men, see the second time around as “the second time around” rather than “and then after that”…? Regardless, it is must-read.

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