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Two time’s a charm

Community and camaraderie bring writer back to Linden Ponds

Created date

September 20th, 2016
Author and Linden Ponds resident Valerie Lester is currently working on her fifth book.

Author and Linden Ponds resident Valerie Lester is currently working on her fifth book.

Valerie Lester made the decision to move to Linden Ponds not once, but two times. 

She first moved to the community back in 2009. After her husband passed away, she was compelled to strike out on her own and travel. She went to Italy for several months to do research for a book she was writing. When she returned to the United States, she was living in an apartment in Weymouth, Mass., and developed bronchitis. It was then that she decided to move back to Linden Ponds.

Sense of community

“I was sitting in my apartment by myself in a building where I could call nobody and say, ‘Could you come and have a cup of tea or pick up some milk for me?’” Valerie says. “I thought, ‘This is no way to live, but I’d have plenty of company at Linden Ponds.’ So last July, I moved back in, and I’m very pleased.”

Valerie had kept in touch with friends from Linden Ponds and quickly made several new ones. She says she instantly felt the sense of community and camaraderie that she had been missing.

“People on my floor came by with gifts, and I would find large tomatoes on my shelf [outside my front door],” Valerie says. “I immediately made very good friends with my neighbors across the hall.”

Work at home and abroad

Although she lives at a retirement community, Valerie is far from retired. A professional writer (, she has published several books, a few poems, and two plays. 

Her first book, Fasten Your Seat Belts! was inspired by her earlier work as a flight attendant for Pan American. The book is a historical narrative of the famous airline as told through the voices of cabin crewmembers who Valerie interviewed during the course of her research. 

Her second book, Phiz, the Man Who Drew Dickens, is a biography of Valerie’s great-great grandfather Halbot Knight Browne, who illustrated Charles Dickens’ novels. 

She has also written a biography of Italian typographer Giambattista Bodoni, and she translated the French coming-of-age novel Le Grand Meaulnes into English. 

Currently, Valerie is working on another biography about an English man who spent a lot of time in Italy, so she is once again traveling there for research. 

In addition to traveling for book research, Valerie frequently visits her daughter, who lives in Singapore. 

“I like to travel, and that is one of the good things about living at Linden Ponds—you can just lock your door and go,” she says. 

Traveling is a bit more convenient for the people who live at Linden Ponds because the gated community has around-the-clock security. Residents can vacation without worrying that their house will be robbed or that they will return to a flooded basement or frozen pipes.

When Valerie isn’t busy writing or researching, she enjoys tending to her garden at Linden Ponds. She has a colorful flower garden of her own, and she also manages a communal vegetable garden, where she grows tomatoes, beans, leeks, Swiss chard, red cabbage, and radicchio.