A Map of the World

A Map of the World

by Jane Hamilton

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Overview

From the author of the widely acclaimed The Book of Ruth comes a harrowing, heartbreaking drama about a rural American family and a disastrous event that forever changes their lives.

The Goodwins, Howard, Alice, and their little girls, Emma and Claire, live on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Although suspiciously regarded by their neighbors as "that hippie couple" because of their well-educated, urban background, Howard and Alice believe they have found a source of emotional strength in the farm, he tending the barn while Alice works as a nurse in the local elementary school.

But their peaceful life is shattered one day when a neighbor's two-year-old daughter drowns in the Goodwins' pond while under Alice's care. Tormented by the accident, Alice descends even further into darkness when she is accused of sexually abusing of a student at the elementary school. Soon, Alice is arrested, incarcerated, and as good as convicted in the eyes of a suspicious community. As a child, Alice designed her own map of the world to find her bearings. Now, as an adult, she must find her way again, through a maze of lies, doubt and ill will.

A vivid human drama of guilt and betrayal, A Map of the World chronicles the intricate geographies of the human heart and all its mysterious, uncharted terrain.  The result is a piercing drama about family bonds and a disappearing rural American life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780613289443
Publisher: San Val
Publication date: 12/28/1999
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.34(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jane Hamilton lives, works, and writes in an orchard farmhouse in Wisconsin. Her short stories have appeared in Harper's Magazine, and her first book, The Book of Ruth, was awarded the 1989 PENHemingway Foundation Award for best first novel. Seven years after its publication, The Book of Ruth was chosen for the Oprah Book Club, giving it a second life. In 1994 Hamilton published A Map of the World which became an international best seller, and in 1998, The Short History of a Prince, which won the Heartland Prize for Fiction, and was shortlisted for Britain's Orange Prize.

Read an Excerpt

I used to think if you fell from grace it was more likely than not the result of one stupendous error, or else an unfortunate accident. I hadn't learned that it can happen so gradually you don't lose your stomach or hurt yourself in the landing. You don't necessarily sense the motion. I've found it takes at least two and generally three things to alter the course of a life: You slip around the truth once, and then again, and one more time, and there you are, feeling, for a moment, that it was sudden, your arrival at the bottom of the heap.

I opened my eyes on a Monday morning in June last summer and I heard, somewhere far off, a siren belting out calamity. It was the last time I would listen so simply to a sound that could mean both disaster and pursuit. Emma and Claire were asleep and safe in their beds, and my own heart seemed to be beating regularly. If the barn was out the window, clean, white, the grass cropped as close as a golf course, the large fan whirring in the doorway, then my husband Howard was all right. I raised up to take a look. It was still standing, just as I suspected it would be. I had never said out loud a little joke I used to say to myself now and again:

Everywhere that barn goes, Howard, you are sure to be close behind. He was a philosophical and poetical farmer who bought Golden Guernseys because he both liked their color and the way "Golden Guernsey" floated off his tongue. It was secondary that the breed was famous for their butterfat. I worried about his choice when we bought the farm because I was certain that poetry is almost never rewarded. Now, in my more charitable moods, I wonder if our hardworking, God-fearing community members punished us for something as intangible as whimsy. We would not have felt eccentric in a northern city, but in Prairie Center we were perhaps outside the bounds of the collective imagination.

The ambulances were streaking down the highway while I lay in bed in our farmhouse, in what used to be a very small town called Prairie Junction. Three years before they had built a greyhound racetrack outside of the city limits, a facility which has brought so many businesses and goods and services to the area the governing body voted to change the name of the new, improved version of our town to Prairie Center. Even people who lived there could never remember where they were.

I wondered if a building was burning down, if there was a car accident at the perilous intersection, or a baby coming early in one of the subdivisions. Our range of disaster in that town was fairly limited, but we were due for something, certainly. The last rain had come at the beginning of April and now, at the first of June, all but the hardiest mosquitoes had left their papery skins in the grass. It was already seven o'clock in the morning, long past time to close the windows and doors, trap what was left of the night air, slightly cooler only by virtue of the dark. The dust on the gravel had just enough energy to drift a short distance and then collapse on the flower beds. The sun had a white cast, as if shade and shadow, any flicker of nuance, had been burned out by its own fierce center. There would be no late afternoon gold, no pale early morning yellow, no flaming orange at sunset. If the plants had vocal cords they would sing their holy dirges like slaves.

I often had the fanciful thought that the pond would save us; it would be the one thing that would postpone our deaths by scorching as the climate of our part of the world changed. We were going to spend the long summer months ahead thinking always of the relief of our own unspoiled waters. Most afternoons our daughters, Emma and Claire, and I, and occasionally Howard, farmer, husband, and father, would walk the thirty yards down the wooded path to the jewel of the property, the clear water gurgling up from a spring into a seven-acre pond. There were no leeches, no film or scum or snapping turtles, no monstrous vestiges from the Cretaceous Age lurking in the depths. There, under the blazing sun, were cool, clean ripples spreading from their mysterious source and fanning to the shore, while trout circled beneath.

I needed to get out of bed. Howard, in his quiet, sissing voice, soothing as a dove, had told me to sleep in, but I should have been up to help him, should have woken hours earlier. I lay still and took another minute to smell: I smelled the warm, sweet, all-pervasive smell of silage, as well as the sour dirty laundry spilling over the basket in the hall. I could pick out the acrid smell of Claire's drenched diaper, her sweaty feet, and her hair crusted with sand. The heat compounded the smells, doubled the fragrance. Howard always smelled and through the house his scent seemed always to be warm. His was a musky smell, as if the source of a muddy river, the Nile or the Mississippi, began right in his armpits. I had grown used to thinking of his smell as the fresh man smell of hard work. Too long without washing and I tenderly beat his knotty arms with my fists. That morning there was alfalfa on his pillow and cow manure embedded in his tennis shoes and the cuffs of his coveralls that lay by the bed. Those were sweet reminders of him. He had gone out as one shaft of searing light came through the window. He had put on clean clothes to milk the cows.

I knew just then, in a brief glimmer of truth, that the stink and mess, the frenetic dullness of farming, our marriage, the tedium of work and love—all of it was my savior. Half the world seemed to be scheming to escape husbands or wives, but I was planted firmly enough, striving, always striving, to take root. I was sure that that morning our family was connected by a ribbon of pure, steaming, binding, inviolable stench, going from room to room and out to the barn. I was so far from my mistakes of the school year, never considering in the freedom of summer that my winter's missteps could strain our vigorous bonds.

At breakfast I was putting out bowls when Claire banged her spoon on the table and announced, "I'm going to die when you do."

"What?" I said, once in a voice roughly an octave lower than usual, and then again in my normal register. "What?" What had possessed Claire, three years old, to say such a thing, other than the terrible force of our doomsayer genes? Or was she prescient? Did she see before her our wrecked car, the Jaws of Life working in vain to extract what was left of us? In any case, I wasn't paying strict attention that morning; I didn't think about my five-year-old daughter, Emma, requiring milk in her red plastic cup so that she could pour her own milk over her cereal. In all innocence I poured the unpasteurized, completely homogenized milk from our cows straight from the blue pitcher into Emma's bowl.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

"Christ," I said under my breath.

Emma's shrieks made our one crystal vase rattle and the blood pound in my head. She was flailing in her chair as if she'd been inadequately electrocuted. I knew from experience that there was not going to be any quick consolation for my transgression. "Emma, Emma, Emma," I said, wishing I could somehow teach her to take the smaller blows of life in stride. It was possible my blunder would start a chain reaction that might last a full morning, one tantrum after the next, each round going off when we least expected it.

"Why did you do that?" she sobbed. She was the child who was frequently on the verge of hysteria, the tears right under her lids waiting to fall. She was so often unhappy about what she didn't have or was about to receive. We led a hectic life, and she had a darling baby sister who had stolen some of her thunder, but even so her tantrums were excessive, indeed violent. They frightened me. They seemed to be about so much more than the protocol I had not observed. "Emma, I'm sorry," I said. "I wasn't thinking. Did I ever tell you about Aunt Kate's chicken pitcher that clucked when it was empty?" Of course I had told her about the chicken. I had told her about the magical porcelain pitcher countless times and she usually interrupted, begging for one just like it. "If you want to start over," I said, "I'd be glad to fill your cup with milk and begin again."

She threw her head back and groaned. My dispensation meant nothing. Her skin was already so brown that when she spread her fingers in her woe the little webs between were white as pearl. Her face, stretched to the limit with exaggerated heartbreak, was red and blotchy. I wasn't sure I could bear a day like that one was sure to be, and I slammed my hands down on the table, saying, with such exquisite self-control I felt as if I was singing, "Emma, if you need to scream and cry and carry on you may go sit on the chair in the hall."

"Why," Emma heaved, "did you do that to me?"

"I did not do anything to you," I explained, with emphasis on every word. "I will count to three, and if you are still in a temper you will go to the chair." That was the procedure my neighbor Theresa used with great success to discipline her children. I counted. Emma remained seated during the punctuated and fractionated count from zero to three. Even after I was done, absolutely no place to go after three, I waited, giving her the chance to bolt. In the end there was nothing to do but lift her under her arms and drag her away. She kicked and tossed her head back and forth, snarling and spitting. She could be a torment, a humiliation, at nearly six years of age carrying on as if she was preparing for the role of Helen Keller. I didn't know how the calm and deep wellspring of mother love could sustain itself through years of such storms. I hated her being so unreasonable and so fierce in her anger. She didn't have any right to be angry!

There was a black chair in the hall that had been set there for those occasions, and when I forced her onto the worn seat she dug her fingernails into my arm and pulled down so that blood sprang up from the scratches. "Stay there," I growled. I stumbled back into the kitchen and set the timer for five minutes. My hands were shaking. I looked at my arm, at the three bloody tracks. Emma's rage was as perfect an anger as I could think of, flowing spontaneously on a moment's notice from the depth of her being, where a careful accounting of justice, swift as light, must take place. I could have cried at the terror of it, the surprise, the strength of her fury; I could have cried because I knew that I was responsible for her anger; I wanted to cry most of all because I had wanted to right my own wrongs, to raise a loving family, and I had instead produced a hellion. A hellion! She would pursue us through our lives, fueled by rage, crashing into the nursing home where I would sit slumped over in a wheelchair, to give me a piece of her mind. Emma, more than anyone I had ever known, made me think in outlandish terms, in measurements that occasionally extended through to eternity. I covered the scratch with my other hand. "What did you say a minute ago?" I asked Claire, who was sitting straight in her chair peeling the stickers off the bananas. Her short sleek, dark hair was molded around her head like a close-fitting cap.

"I forget," was all. Our daughters had forged their roles early on with our unwitting complicity: Emma, the bad. Claire, the good. Emma had come hard into this world. "Who are you?" we had hardly dared to ask as she miraculously sucked and burped and moved her bowels. "Where did you come from?" We had stood over her waiting for her, our creation, to find her hands, to sit; we begged her to walk, to use the shape sorter properly, to say our names. We wanted to know she was normal and secretly hoped she was quite a bit above average. We were so careful, buying her skid-proof socks and a bike helmet for the goat cart. At night Howard and I fell asleep discussing her intelligence and her remarks. Claire was the blessed second child, nothing more than a baby, someone who had come to live at our house, who would grow up in her own time, her achievements more often than not overlooked in the confusion of getting to work, scratching up meals, finding clean clothes.

When the timer rang, Emma marched into the kitchen, climbed on her chair, turned her bowl over, and then dropped it to the floor, a look of triumph on her tearstained face. The bowl smashed. I fetched the broom, without missing a step, as if the scene had been choreographed, swept up the broken porcelain and then walked out into the yard, slamming the kitchen door behind me with all my might. She had been sitting so peacefully on the black chair, not because she was obedient, but because she had been hatching her plot.

Outside, the air smelled as if it had been cooked, as if it had been altered by the heat and was no longer life sustaining.

"Don't leave me!" Emma shouted from the porch.

I did not direct my answer to her. I was cupping my hand over the yellow cat's face while it went wild with the prospect of near suffocation. During the next tantrum I would have to tell Emma that I was going to count to infinity, that I would give her that much time to compose herself. I was hissing, shaking the poor cat as I lectured him, when Howard said, 'What are you doing, Alice?"

He was standing in the doorway of the milk house, wearing his rubber overalls and his rubber boots, each the length of a basset hound. The open buckles on the boots and the metal hooks on the overalls jangled when he moved. I felt a rush of admiration for him, in his stiff, clattery suit that on anyone else would have looked oafish. Because he himself was commanding he gave even a rubbery old hillbilly getup dignity.

"What am I doing?" I asked myself, prying the cat's claws from my shirt. "I'm about to suffocate this cat instead of our daughter, that's all," I said, snorting, as if I'd made a joke. Without saying, he'd know I meant Emma.

"I'll be in soon, as soon as I can." He turned and shuffled into his barn. His overalls were pulled too tight in the back and had the beguiling effect of the wicked schoolboy's trick known as Chinese laundry.

"I'm handling it fine, Howard, I really think I am." I sometimes felt dismayed because he didn't seem to trust me the way he should have. "I'm pretty sure I'm doing the right thing," I said under my breath, "strangling the cat instead of Emma."

I had always suspected that deep down Howard was able to slip into a phone booth, shed his rubber overalls right down to a blue body suit, and then take off into the sky, scooping up the children with one strong arm before he made off to a land where milk naturally flows in the rivers. He has always been capable. This is my fondest image from his childhood: Howard, nine years old, is in his back yard in Minneapolis, setting up battalions of toy soldiers and then digging the firecrackers into the ground, lighting them, and exploding his armies. The noise, the smoke, the destruction, are not only thrilling, but beautiful. I can so well imagine the pleasure he would have gotten from being the master planner. In his family album he always has the same crew cut and he doesn't smile. He was a solemn boy who was taught that life is both important and nice. When I first knew him he believed in irresistible notions as the result of living in a neighborhood brimming with Lutherans. He believed that God gave people certain gifts and that if you used them appropriately you'd travel the path that was there expressly for you. His Maker was organized, just like his mother. For Howard, life was never ridiculous; humans, at heart, were not even remotely foolish.

I could see him disappearing through the inner door to the milking parlor. "Don't rush yourself," I called, dropping the cat. "Theresa is bringing her girls over so we'll be fine without your—' I was thinking the words, "model of control."

The night before, our neighbors, Dan and Theresa, had come for dinner with their children. And in our yard, in the spot where I stood, Howard had thrown the glow-in-the-dark ball up in the air, the four little girls fluttering like bats, rising and falling, barely visible in the dark. The luminous ball, a strange glowing green, bounced in the grass and the littlest girl, Lizzy, clapped and shouted, "Moon. Moon. Moon."

When I got to the house, Claire was dutifully eating her cereal. Emma sat in her chair sucking on a strand of her stringy hair. "Someone forgot to feed me breakfast," she choked.

"I'd like some now," I said. "Would you rather I ate here with you, so we could talk about our day, or should I take the tray out to the porch, where there is peace and quiet?"

"Here," Emma said. "Could I please have something to eat?"

"Certainly." I smiled a tight, close-lipped smile at my reformed daughter. Welcome back, I wanted to say. We will tread so carefully, so lightly, so you will not go off again.

"Tell me," she said, "exactly what the plan is."

Reading Group Guide

1. In the opening pages of the novel, Alice says about her situation, "Now, in my more charitable moods, I wonder if our hardworking community members punished us for something as intangible as whimsy. We would not have felt eccentric in a northern city, but in Prairie Center we were perhaps outside the bounds of the collective imagination." (p. 4) How does the idea of alienation figure into the novel? Why do Dan and Theresa belong to Prairie Center? Does Howard belong? Feeling that she doesn't belong, could Alice have done anything to make herself less vulnerable to public censure?

2. Compare the different ways the characters grieve: Are there parallels in the husbandwife relationships within the couples--Alice and Howard, Theresa and Dan--and how each spouse expresses, or fails to express, his or her own grief? Do the characters' respective genders play a role in the way they deal with grief? What role does grief play in Howard's relationship with Theresa?

3. What is the function of Howard's narration? Does his perspective change your feelings about Alice and what happens to her? Is it clear why he doubts her?

4. Does Alice's sense of her own inadequacy contribute to how she is viewed by the people of Prairie Center? Does it contribute to Howard's feelings towards her?

5. At the outset of the novel, Alice says, "I had always suspected that Howard was able to slip into a phone booth, shed his rubber overalls right down to a blue body suit, and then take off into the sky, scooping up the children with one strong arm.... He has always been capable." (p. 9) What are some of Howard and Alice's respective strengths and weaknesses? Is either one stronger than the other in any way?

6. At the point of the novel when Alice is arrested, she is still completely overwhelmed and incapacitated by Lizzy's death and her role in it. How do the accusations against Alice and her time in prison change her and help her to deal with what happened to Lizzy?

7. What is revealed about Alice through her interaction with other prisoners? Does her sense of belonging shift while in prison? What new perspectives does she gain?

8. While in the jail hospital, Alice reflects on her marriage, "Lying in the hospital bed I thought to myself that my passion for Howard had soon been replaced by something that was stronger than respect, or habit, or maybe even need.... "I wasn't certain the group of feelings wouldn't cancel each other out, if any of them could possibly be powerful enough to carry me along by his side, shoulder to shoulder." (p. 298) What binds Alice and Howard? Do the events of the novel change the essence of those ties?

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Map of the World 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 115 reviews.
Caitlin Robertson More than 1 year ago
This book was horrible. The main character seems braindead and annoying throughout. Reminds me of one of those people who would be texting and tailgating all the while putting on lipstick...as if they are looking for something bad to happen. I could barely make it through this one because I found the main character to be so annoying on top of a lame duck storyline.
dimestorenovel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book ages ago - before it was an Oprah book. It is well-written but it is amazingly depressing. No spoiler in this review - just be forewarned that this book is really sad and filled with hopelessness. No happy ending here.
karieh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good - but HOLY CRAP it's depressing.
kimoqt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So depressing, but strongly moving
wordpath on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Insult added to trauma piled upon tragedy¿and yet there is hope. First published in 1994, A Map of the World follows the journey of a counterculture couple, Alice and Howard Goodwin, through a cruel and life-altering year of their marriage. Existence on Howard¿s beloved 400-acre dairy farm in rural Wisconsin is insular enough, but the Goodwins are also shut out by the mistrust and misunderstanding of the small community around them. Except, that is, for Dan and Theresa, a couple with whom they have developed a comfortable friendship.The book begins during a typically-hectic morning at home. Emma, one of the two Goodwin daughters, is having a tantrum at breakfast. In the midst of this, Theresa stops by to leave her own two daughters with Alice for the morning and departs. Distracted by Emma¿s demands and the chance finding of her own childhood drawing of a peaceful world, Alice makes a fatal mistake that carries unbearable consequences for both families. In the midst of dealing with one tragedy, and the loss of her only friend, Alice is soon dogged by the added burden of unfounded accusations from the mother of a neglected boy she often deals with (and dislikes) in her part-time job as the local school nurse. Told first through Alice¿s rich inner dialog, and then Howard¿s, the story traces an unrelenting path through unthinkable circumstances before it ends in Alice¿s voice once again. In the end almost everything has changed.But be warned: the prose doesn¿t just dog Alice and Howard¿s footsteps; it deposits you straight into hearts and minds stripped raw as the pen of Jane Hamilton dips deftly again and again into the inkpot of pain and remorse. Yet, despite all, she has drawn characters illuminated with determination and hope amid the calligraphy of chaos.
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Howard and Alice live on a small dairy farm in southeastern Wisconsin. The housing developments are coming closer and closer, but Howard and Alice love their 400 acres and their cows and their pond and their orchard. Sharing the farm are their two daughters, Emma and Claire. The townspeople think they are odd living in their rundown farm house, and the only friends they have made are Theresa and Dan, a couple also with two daughters. Howard lives and breathes his farm, and Alice tends to the house and the girls and also works part-time as the elementary school nurse. Life seems good on the day that Theresa drops her girls off for Alice to baby-sit while she has lunch with her mother. Tragedy strikes and life is altered for Alice and Howard beyond anything they could possibly imagine. A gripping, page-turner with characters and settings so well-drawn you almost expect to see them around the next corner. Unforgettable story.
JGoto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿m not sure just exactly what was so compelling about Jane Hamilton¿s A Map of the World, but I found it very difficult to put down. Perhaps it was the all too possible nightmare of taking care of a friend¿s child and having a fatal accident occur in a split second of negligence. Or maybe it was the experience of having a colleague falsely and ridiculously accused of child abuse. The reactions of the characters in this novel to the chain reaction of events in this story, as well as their responses to one another, are beautifully portrayed. Despite the difficult subject matter, I enjoyed reading this book.
novelcommentary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had heard of this novel without knowing too much about it. I only knew that something happened in the beginning that changes the lives of the characters. I almost didn't want to know as I began reading and came to the realization that Alice, the main character and co narrator is responsible for the death by drowning of her best friend's 2 year old daughter. As if this isn't bad enough, Alice, while still unraveling over the tragedy, becomes accused of sexually abusing several students in the Elementary School where she works as the nurse. It is almost as if the accusation and eventual time spent in a women prison has more to do with the accidental death than it does with the 6year old boy's accusation. Alice's guilt over the first event makes her seem okay with the time spent away from her family. I found the novel at first a little melodramatic, but started liking it more when the husband took a turn at the narration. I found the courtroom proceedings and the eventual reality of what a trial of this nature can be like to be very interesting, that and the change that took hold of Alice as she dealt with the events. This seemed almost Kafkaesque as Alice is in jail for something she did not do, yet is guilty for not supervising the little girl. Other scenes of interest in the novel include the amazingly forgiving attitude of Theresa, the mourning mother, the life inside a women¿s prison, the resiliency of the children who become more independent as their life goes more awry, and the way the local townspeople so willingly jump on the bandwagon of accusation. I would be interested the author¿s first book which won a Pen/Faulkner Award.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully written story about friendship, marriage and how life can go so horribly wrong...and you don't realise it until it's too late.I enjoyed this story about a woman whose best friend's daughter dies while she's babysitting her; who is then charged with an unrelated crime of child abuse and how her relationships with her husband, children and friends change.
estellen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The plot grabbed me - but the writing left much to be desired.
marcyhelen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I bought this book to read on the plane, when my husband and I traveled to Italy about two weeks ago. The opening about the nature of the fall from grace drew me in. But once the point of view changed from the character of Alice to the character of Howard, I became bored. I felt as if the characters were reporting on their interior life to some implied audience. A bit too pedantic. This is not to say that there were not some beautifully writtne passages about land and history and relationships. But that wasn't enough to keep my interest.
jerseyjane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm reading this now and about 1/2 way thru it. The main character Alice is an obnoxious drama queen, probably mentally ill. I can't stand her and I have to keep reading to find out what she does next.
SallyApollon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not quite sure what happened with this book, it was about 10 years ago, and I'm pretty sure I didn't finish it--rare thing for me...
DomingoSantos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jane Hamilton is an incredible writer! What a consummate wordsmither! Hamilton's skill in getting inside the head and personality of the characters is nothing short of amazing. A must read.
cidnee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my very favorite books. I loved it. It is about marriage, friendship, loss, blame, guilt and renewel. It underscores the undeniable fact that "life goes on" and it has very little to do with any one individual. This is a wonderful book.
oldblack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I reckon Jane Hamilton is a great writer, and this book is a good example of her work. She can see things from a different perspective, and yet, when she presents that vision, the reader understands it. Here's a couple of examples:In the first, her narrator is contemplating the state of her marriage relationship:"Because I couldn't make out the blur of the next week, or month, I tried to see though to the end.I would die, and if I was still married to Howard I would be buried next to him. Where would we rest our useless bodies? We might not be allowed a plot in Prairie Center Cemetery, but it would be of little matter, save for our hurt feelings, because Howard would want to be buried with his relatives in Minnesota. ...In the end maybe what marriage offered was the determination of one's burial site. " In the second example, the same woman is on trial, and she describes one of the witnesses, a psychologist, called to speak against her:"It wasn't difficult to understand why Dr Bailey could speak to the horror of the body, when his own form - his sunken chest, his slim waist that required a belt for which he likely had to make extra holes - might alone have caused him plenty of trauma and subsequent neurosis. I liked Dr Bailey, felt his sensitivity, his probable fondness for moss and lichens, wild flowers, Debussy."I laughed out loud at that last sentence...and wondered what Claude Debussy himself would make of it. Only two days ago I had been on the roof of my house and noticed how lichens were covering all the tiles, and some of the lichens were quite wonderfully complex, and perhaps even beautiful. And yes, I've put extra holes in my belt when I was younger and slimmer!The whole book is full of fascinating observations of things and people. Her photo on the dust jacket shows a very contemplative and thoughtful person - and yet she is obviously not without humor.I was very interested in this book from the point of view of its exploration of forgiveness. The book doesn't have a neat and complete set of answers, but it does pose lots of questions and offer a variety of forgiveness experience. I guess that's the best you can hope for?
NotSunkYet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. Some reviews mention that it is depressing, but I think that is what makes the book 'real'. No fake, happily-ever-after ending. Sometimes, most times that's how life is. It is what you make of it.
bookweaver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book right after having seen the movie so it seemed a little slow at times. Having said that, I did read it pretty quickly...all the background stuff about the character's motivations held my attention. The only problem with having seen the movie first is that Sigourney Weaver is such a strong personality she kind of overpowered the role as Hamilton wrote her. I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad thing, but I would suggest reading the book first if you want your own mental image.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Characters quite nuanced, giving it lots of potential for discussion and reconsideration..some reviewers say that this is a depressing read but i think this is only so at a reading of the events and not of the character development. The change of pov is also thought provoking. I will definitely pursue more of jane hamilton.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JustMyTwoCents More than 1 year ago
Great Start that Sputters at the end I would have liked to give this book 3-1/2 stars, but that's not an option. This is a good story that grabs you from the start and moves you along, but about three quarters of the way in, it seems the book begins to drag, and continues to do so until its inevitable conclusion. No great revelations or twists at the end. It left me a little disapponted. I also couldn't help but think that had these horrible events not happened to this couple, they would have lost their farm anyway. Two people with small childen tryng to operate a 400 acre farm isn't going to work. The first accident or $100,000 ruptured appendix hospital bill and it's all over. No health insurance in this day equals guaranteed disaster. Ah, but I digress.....I just have a hard time separating fiction from reality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Trisha Gnyp More than 1 year ago
I have read alot of books but i have to say this is one of the best i have ever read! You have to read this book!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago