My husband Noel died yesterday.  Many of you were aware that he was ill for a very long time, following a 2006 stroke and then cancer diagnosis, and anyone who has had a loved one linger will understand that the sorrow is strongly colored with relief.

It is odd, but somehow appropriate as well, to have his death come on the same day that our Mary Russell project, “Fifteen Weeks of Bees”, opened on the web site. Noel was always somewhat puzzled by my commitment to fiction–he being a true academic of the Oxford variety–but remained proud of my books.  He would have been deeply amused by having his death caught up in a celebration of his wife’s work.

I want to say a thanks, to everyone who has supported me during these years.  This includes those of you who bought my books, enabling me to keep a roof over my husband’s head and several creative and loving caregivers at close hand, as well as those committed friends who have taken various aspects of Fifteen Weeks, from Goodreads to Twitter, and run with them.

Today is sadness.  Tomorrow we turn our face to joy.

Thank you all.


  1. Laurie, I’m so sorry to hear this. I hope you are all right. And I am so grateful for all you’ve written. I like how you have taken a grain of happiness out of the loss and used it to shine light on us all.



  2. Laurie my dear, how sad and not-sad this news is. I’ve marveled for a long time that you worked so well while also your beloved Noel needed such care and attention. It’s good you had plenty of loving help over the long time of his illness. From my own experience with a son who eventually died of cancer, I know also that having your work to do was likely a saving grace. I mourn Noel’s death, and celebrate you.

  3. Sorrow and relief; I very much understand the complexity of those two emotions being comingled. We are thinking of you during this difficult time.

    Kim (the mom) and Ryan (the son – 13) both Mary Russell fans

  4. Its a very sad news. I am very sorry, for you and your family.

  5. Laurie, my deepest condolences. I’m glad the easy task of buying your books has been of service to you. I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

  6. Blessings and peace to you and your family during this sad time. And how good that you had the blessings of your work (and of our appreciation of it!) during the hard times as Noel’s health went downhill and you had to provide such a lot of care.

  7. What sad news…my deepest sympathies to you and yours.

  8. Laurie, I am so sorry for your loss. With the loss of a loved one, I’ve discovered that life becomes divided up into “before” and “after.” One day I hope you will be able to remember the “before” with a smile yet still find joy the “after.”
    Be good to yourself. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Lizanne (and daughter, Anna, who is also a huge Mary Russell fan)

  9. Ellen Goldstein says:

    I’m so sorry! Thank you for your books (I’ve read ’em all) and for your blog. There is a beautiful book of poems by Moira Linehan (who lives in Massachusetts, my part of the world) called “If No Moon” about her process through grief after her husband died after a long illness.

    In the Keep of the Body

    Those preparing the body for the journey—
    the one that begins in water, a barque
    bringing it to the west bank of the Nile,
    there to begin the journey that follows
    the setting sun, its 12-hour pursuit of night—
    first work a hook into the passageway
    of the nose to draw down the brain (no use,

    they believe, in this life, so none imaginable
    hereafter). Next, the body turned on its side,
    they cut an opening, reach in and take out
    the organs. These the body will need again,
    so these they preserve in canopic jars.
    Each organ they remove except the heart.
    The heart they leave in the keep of the body.

    They leave the heart in the keep of the body
    which they dry with salt. Seventy days it takes
    to dry. Seventy days those left behind wait
    before they fill it with spices, wrap it
    in linen—the body with its companion
    canopic jars, at last ready to embark.

    Grief, meanwhile, has lost no time going to work
    on the lover left behind, draining her,
    then ferrying her to a desiccated place.
    In dreams, already she is Isis, each night
    finding her husband, one dismembered piece
    at a time. Each piece she finds she re-buries.
    Each night she fails to find all of him.


    Whoever said Straight as a crow flies
    never saw the crows in my back yard

    zigzag tree to rock wall, garage roof, shrieking
    back to wall, branch, gutter, crosshatching the air

    in a fury of streaks. Try reading those lines
    for a sense of the world, the heart’s weight,

    what keeps you up in the air, keeps you going
    back to where you’ve just come from. Force-field

    around me, below me, this house my husband
    died in and left me years ago now, rooms

    I still crisscross, pulled as I am by something
    in the earth’s depths, or maybe much closer:

    his body buried two streets away, or those desires
    that surfaced screeching, flying every which way

    the months he was dying. Just when I think they’re gone,
    they’re back en masse in swoops, shrill as ever.

  10. Dear Laurie–

    God bless you and your family. I’m glad there is some peace for you, along with sorrow and remembered joy.


  11. Laurie,
    I am so sorry for your loss. My husband & I are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

  12. May he rest in PEACE!

  13. Bruce Mullen says:

    Dear Mrs. King,

    Noel was a light, a beacon, a bastion of safety, love, and learning, and I will miss him.

    He was one of my thesis advisors, and delivered the commencement address at my graduation from Merrill in 1974, and I’ve cherished his concise advice to the new graduates ever since:

    “Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God – however you may find Him.”

    I am blessed to have known the man.

    Though we’ve never met, my thoughts are with you.

    Bruce Mullen

  14. I am so sorry for your loss. May you remember the happy times. I too understand the mixed emotions, with the passing of my Mother this summer after her long illness. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  15. My deepest condolences to you and your entire family. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  16. I am sorry for your loss. Thinking of you during this difficult time

  17. Marianne McA says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family circle.

  18. My deepest condolences. I hope the current celebration of your work, as well as the support of all your supporters, brings you comfort in this difficult time.

  19. No one ever dies as long as we keep them in our heart and remember them in our dreams.

  20. Elizabeth Chamberlin says:

    My sympathy for your loss. It is the ones who lean on us who make us strong.

  21. My deepest sympathies to you and your family. Your books brought me great solace through my mother’s terminal illness – for which I will always be grateful. I hope you have something to help you through as well.

  22. My deepest sympathies. God grant you comfort.

  23. Marjorie Westphal says:

    Dearest Laurie,
    How transcendent, to be going through a bad patch myself, and to have picked up “Touchstone”, and be revelling in its language and complex plotting, saying to myself “I just have to shout to Laurie, How wonderful this is, and how uniquely amazing her talent is”, and thank her for it.
    So, in the midst of such uplift for me, I go online and find such sadness for you, at the same time.
    Those of us who have experienced the long illness of loved ones, well understand your gratitude that it’s over. But that only lightly tempers the loss. Now he is in a worry-free place in your heart.
    And you are in a special place in ours. Much Love, Jorie

  24. My very deep sympathies on your loss. Your occasional comments in your blog made me think very much of my father (who died from cancer himself, when I was 15, when my parents had been married for 30+ years.)

    Thinking of you at this time – and ongoing – and of everyone else who knew him and misses him. May you all have all the support you need.

  25. My thoughts are with you, and I hope you & your family find comfort. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

  26. Laurie, I’m so very sorry to hear of Noel’s passing. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  27. It’s a heavy thing, to be free of the need/privilege to watch and care for a dear soul whose gradual passing from this world has been completed. I’m sorry that Noel is gone, Laurie; sorry for you that you and your wonderful children are missing him, sorry for all of us who thought the world of him from afar and never got to meet him. May many blessings attend you and the whole family, here and abroad, during this time of saying goodbye.

  28. My thoughts and prayers are with you, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.

  29. My deepest condolences. Dr. King was a luminous teacher and a great man. Thank you for so generously sharing your journey. My thoughts are with you.

  30. Canzonett says:


    after revelling in the tidbits from “The Language of Bees”, I was shocked and sad to read the news about your husband’s death. It seems so strange and unfair that the world has changed so much for you with this day while it remains basically the same for so many other people out there. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  31. Mike Simpson says:

    Some urge to say publicly things I know you already know inspires this. Noel was a touchstone indeed for me, in many ways and through assorted times. So, too, you and your writing. You have my love and Pat’s to go with the outpourings from your fans and friends.


  32. Someone close to me who cared for Noel in his last years, and cried to me when learning of his death said; “He had the light of God in his face”.

    My prayers are with you and your family, Laurie

  33. My sympathy on the loss of your husband.
    My prayers are with you and your family.

  34. I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    – Lynne

  35. I’m so sorry for your loss. Prayers and peace to you these days and in the days ahead. Much love and support is headed your way, as evidenced by the comments here. May you be held by that.


  36. I am so sorry to hear about your husband. My thoughts are with you.

  37. Ms King, I’m very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  38. My condolences on your loss. I have spent a good portion of this evening reading through the posts on the memorial website. Your husband touched many lives and lives in their hearts forever. I only wish that I had had the opportunity to meet this amazing man. What a legacy to leave behind. The world is a better place because he once lived here.

Speak Your Mind