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A Taos Memoir
By Valmai Howe Elkins

Valmai Howe Elkins recalls her adventures in Taos, New Mexico, when she buys a tiny house built in the 1920s by Mabel Dodge Luhan, patron of the arts and author of “Winter in Taos.”


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High in the mountains of New Mexico, Taos has long been a magnet for artists. When writer Valmai Howe Elkins, escaping brutal east coast winters, buys a tiny house without even seeing inside, lured by the way the light shimmers between the branches of an old apple tree, she is intrigued by the startling adobe house at the top of the lane. “That’s the Mabel Dodge Luhan House,” the realtor tells her. “Mabel was a wealthy socialite who became a patron of the arts. She married Tony Luhan from the Pueblo and they built that house. She was the person who invited Georgia O’Keeffe to the American Southwest.” Mabel, born in 1879, turned her back on a glittering life in Florence, Italy and New York to savor the simple pleasures of Taos and her people. Inspired by Mabel’s book, Winter in Taos, together with the extraordinary house and its view across the sage plains to the Sacred Mountain, Elkins regains her health, makes friends and plunges into Taos adventures. The book is an invitation to readers to explore the lives of rebellious women. The author experiences the power of place and a quirky house which continues to create its own magical world.

Valmai Howe Elkins, while teaching childbirth education at McGill University, pioneered the hospital Birthing Room and introduced the concept and design across North America. The Rights of the Pregnant Parent, dubbed “the book that changed hospital birth,” became an international bestseller, followed by The Birth Report. With a Master of Fine Arts from Bennington College, she is the author of the novels The Dreams of Zoo Animals, about coming of age in Australia, and The Loneliness of Angels, a darkly entertaining look at alternative healing. Her insightful guide, Adventures of a Feng Shui Detective, builds on her Birthing Room experience to explore the ways in which our physical surroundings shape our emotional well-being.

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