The French call it the Côte d’Azur, the Blue Coast. Matisse, Chagall, and Picasso painted there—you can see the jewel-bright colors in their work—and the writer James Baldwin found a haven amid the quiet green hills of Saint-Paul de Vence.
My mother died young, before I ever published a book. Her name was Evelyn, and she hid a generous fund of sadness and anger behind an exquisite, heart-shaped mask. As a child, I learned to listen by listening to her memories of losing the grandmother who raised her, and her father losing his business in the Depression, and her family losing their home and a little girl leaving her bedroom in the middle of the night.