The Author of Maggie Scratch and Her Mother at Es Vedra

vedra with mom

I’m glad this photo is a little blurry, I don’t want to touch it, I like it blurry, I don’t think I could stand a sharp memory of this moment. My mother, so sweet here, so young, so alive. About to get into Francisco’s little motorboat and go for a ride! I’ll never forget what she said to me about the Mediterranean Sea. “When you look out at the horizon, I’ll be on the other side, I’ll be thinking of you…think of me.” If you ask me, the character Sylvia Scratch, Maggie’s mother, is modeled in her image…on that other, far away side…

Here’s an excerpt from the novel, see for yourself.


I just received a letter from Sylvia. She passed her Pennsylvania real estate exam and she had a dream about Es Vedra. She’s sure that her dream and the high marks she received on her real estate exam are connected. She wants me to investigate the price of land and “reserve a parcel” for her with the heart-shaped view. “Palm Beach,” she writes, “is where all the elephants go. When I go, I don’t want to be in Florida. I want to go out gracefully, elegantly, in style!”

I know what my father would do if he lived on Ibiza. He’d hang out at the beaches. He loves to lie in the sun. He’s only an amateur now, but he has the makings of a true hedonist. During his last visit to Ibiza he told me, “Maggie, when I retire I’m coming here to live and I’m going to stay drunk for two years!” I’ll never forget that bright summer day on the beach in Cala D’Hort. Our tables and benches were sunk in the sand, practically touching the sea. We were at Juan’s Bar, having lunch. The sun was on my father’s face and the wind was at his back, when, an event occurred that would make my father’s day and possibly rank as a dream come true. My friend Gudrun, tall, blond, buxom, famous for her “naïf” paintings of Ibicenco scenes, was selling clothes on the beach. We said hello and I introduced her to my parents. My father shook her hand, and Sylvia, after she had bought several silk Indian saris for “next to nothing,” told Gudrun she looked exactly like the girl on the travel brochure except the girl on the travel brochure had been wearing a top. Gudrun put gobs of oil on her skin and went down to have a swim. Whoever says they didn’t watch her is a liar. She was a mermaid in paradise with a backdrop of Es Vedra. She didn’t really swim, she got wet. She splashed and shook, she kicked and foamed, she flung herself at the waves. When she had enough, she dripped out of the sea and zigzagged across the sand over to our table. Oil slicks bubbled like diamonds on her skin. Salt crystals winked in the sun. She sat down on the bench, squeezed in next to my father, and asked Izzy something about Rembrandt paint. My father, an expert trout fisherman, gave up trying to de-bone his salmonetes. He dropped his fork. “He was wringing his hands under the table,” Sylvia claims. My father must have felt like he was watching a movie, or in one. Gudrun Bardot! She flung her hair at the sun and she shook when she laughed, it all looked so natural in the light of day. Her breasts! They bobbed and bounced like the buoys out at sea, they sashayed and they bowed, they rose and they fell, they danced a little jig above my father’s fish.

Maggie Scratch



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