Elms Grove is a fictional small town just north of Washington DC. Population 2,451.
Unlike those bordered by pastureland and farms, it is surrounded by suburbs and is similar to many small towns on the edge of East Coast cities. Hundreds of these locales are engulfed by the suburbs that grew around them in the Twentieth Century.
As a refuge from the humid summers of Washington DC, its early town members built Victorian homes within walking distance of the train station. The town borders the Elms Creek on the west. Its streets form a perfect square, ten blocks by ten blocks with a small circular park in the center. Today most members of the town walk to the train station and commute to work in the city.
Children learn early to navigate the sidewalks from their homes to their favorite places: the library and Noemie French pastry shop, and Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
ELms Grove shapes Clare Balfour, the twenty-one-year-old main character in my debut novel, Becoming Clare. When she confronts the reality of leaving for Saint Catherine’s never to return, she knows that only her memories of the people from the town will go with her.
Like every other sister at the convent, Clare’s history is deeply personal. Its impression stamped into her. Elms Grove is as much a part of Saint Catherine’s as every other town the other sisters bring with them.
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