The House by the Sea
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The House by the Sea

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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  476 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Here she found the peace and aloneness she sought—and partly feared. The journal records the renewing of her life and work in this place.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1977)
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Maree  ♫ Light's Shadow ♪
Read this with a couple of friends from the Book Nook Café, as May Sarton’s journals (not necessarily her poetry) have been recommended to me before for a bit of musing. This is not a book best read quickly. Here’s a conglomeration of some of the comments I made in our discussion thread as I was reading through the book:

I noted it in the previous book we read, but Sarton never really writes about the events, just about her solitude. And how she's married to it. This book is much the same. And I...more
James Lee
The House By The Sea: A Journal, A Personal Review

Read twice with 30 years between reading changes a person’s appreciative perspective on a work. My recent “re-read of May Sarton’s journal, The House By The Sea was a deeper and broader experience for me in contradistinction to three decades ago. I experienced it as a beautifully written journal, weaving Sarton’s life and thoughts on human experiences as diverse as Feminism, Woman-as-Writer, Solitude, Academia, and Civilization into rich daily m...more
Kate
"In 1973, May Sarton moved from the inland New Hampshire home which had been the scene of the creative and inner life she so powerfully probed in both Plant Dreaming Deep and Journal of a Solitude. She went then to a house on the seacoast of Maine. It was a place that was alone in all but a few months in summer, with the sea and the woods, and a wide sky ever present.

"At first, the peace of this place and the escape from the personal anguish she had come to associate with her New Hampshire home...more
Crystal
This book set me to dreaming of living alone by the sea. As I read this journal, I felt as if I was there.
Bern J
"Loneliness is the poverty of self, solitude is the richness of self"- May Sarton
Jean Potuchek
This is my favorite of May Sarton's journals, and I have read it many times over. In part, this book reflects my own experience of falling madly in love with living in Maine. I love her luminous descriptions of the Maine light in all its seasons. This book also resonates for me because it was written during a period of happiness in her life and resonates with the joy that I experience in living alone.
Chris
I love reading Sarton's journals. Interesting in her last entry, she mentioned she was writing this for publication, so I wondered whether she would have written differently if it was just for her; that's how I read it, a journal that eventually got published. Enjoyed her comments regarding the weather (and I thought we were suffering from global warming now!) and the occasional notes on politics. I found it interesting, though, that she celebrated her 64th birthday toward the end, which meant s...more
Naomi
Sarton's journals are daring, because she is vulnerable in them, sharing her foibles and her fears, her anger and her sorrow, as well as lyrical moments, joys, and insights. Her wrestling with solitude and loneliness - the former a blessing, the latter a curse - is one that those who have followed the path of solitude know well. Because so many friends die in the span of this journal, and because of her own health challenges and those of people she deeply loves, sorrow in _The House By the Sea_...more
Lynn
This felt like a hybrid: part journal, part bio. A journal I would expect to be more revealing, but I felt little connection with Sarton and her travails. I'm not entirely sure what her travails were even. I'm not a biography or a memoir fan, and reading someone's journal seems intrusive, but since nothing momentous was revealed, I felt less intrusive. Still, I expected to find out more about Sarton than I did. I guess her self is really in her poetry and novels, not in her journal.
A book club s...more
 Barb Bailey
This book had a great beginning and ending...the first 69 pages or so were very good then she became boring for awhile.......then the last 50 or so pages were great. May Sarton is an author of books and poetry. She is rather self indulgent and very protective and ungenerous of her time. I thgought I'd give this book a higher rating as iI usually love journals and diaries but 4 is really the very best I can do on this one. I'm wondering wether or not I would like her poetry......will have to chec...more
John
This one was slower going than Journal of a Solitude was for me, with much of the "action" consisting of detailed description of her surroundings as the seasons change. A scorecard would've been helpful as entries focus on persons in her present, recent past, and youth; sure, she knew who she was talking about, but for this outsider it wasn't always so clear.
I remain a great fan of her journals, but (to make a food analogy) this one was "rich", so it'll be a bit before I tackle the next one.
Cynthia
I read May Sarton for inspiration in writing, and her journal here was no exception. What I liked about this journal was that she can be introspective and self-reflective while still being centered in her descriptions and observations. There is a balance to her writing that I find refreshing. Her journal demonstrates her thinking in a very matter of fact way- perhaps she is unromantic and yet at the same time poetic- a very appetizing way to approach experiential documentation.
Barbara Shine
Ms. Sarton's constant awareness of the beauty around her is inspiring. As someone not a flower person, though, I sometimes skipped her effusions about the gardens. And as a 68-year-old reader I was uncomfortable with her focus on her much older friends and her bit of fatalism. Her family-like relationship with her pets was calming to read. May Sarton was only 60 when she moved to the house by the sea and started this journal, yet she seems to perceive herself as much older.
Marion
I recommended this for my women's book club title this month and was facilitator last night for the discussion. Only one other person had read the book before so it was quite fascinating to hear feedback about Sarton from those not familiar with her life and writings. It's so true that New Englanders, even those of us transplanted to other places, love to talk about weather. Sarton was a complex woman and had high standards for herself.
Barb
Had read this back in my 30's and loved it....for some reason it was on my mind the other day so am rereading it. One of the benefits of never clearing out my library! I'm finding that Sarton's observations and wisdom are so much more powerful now that I'm reading it in my 60's....wow, I could underline this whole book! A beautiful tribute to the joys of solitude....never mind the fact that I've ALWAYS wanted a house by the sea!
Martha
Wonderful book about the day to day life of this wonderful poet as she lives on her own terms and on in solitude in a new place. The fears she faces and the descriptions of her gardens and her work give a wonderful insight but best of all...they take the reader out of their own "space" out of their own "fears" and the thoughts of mortality that stalk every single person on the planet.
Mary Mccoon
Typical Sarton tells of her new location in York Maine, a house by the sea. More beautiful descriptions of the ocean and life with her friends, traveling and her illnesses. Easy, clear reading and although written in journal form, a hard-to-put-down story of a woman's life alone, but not lonely.
Tanya b
Absolutely LOVE May Sarton. Of course, she's not for everyone and I find her appealing for her journaling on topics such as solitude, writing, aging and the elderly and her hot-tempered reactions to her audience. She can be very sentimental which I relate to but can be irritating to others.
Claudia Douris
This is the second journal of May Sarton that I have read. Her creative passion for the written word and life are beautifully crafted. I devoured every word! This is a memoir to be pondered, savored, loved for the sheer beauty of the mind and spirit that inform it. This is indeed a RADIANT Book!
Lbsantini
Reading Sarton's journals is like finding a friend, she is an "emotional peer," a phrase of a friend's she uses, and friendships, aging, death and new beginnings are themes in this piece. Of course, flowers and cats are here too filling the pages with warmth.
Tiffany
I have never read any of May Sarton's journals before, but I was pleasantly suprised. Her descriptions of the sea, her gardens, and her life in The House By the Sea are so poetic. In fact, at times I felt like I wanted up and move to Maine!
Sherry Chandler
I bought this book at a Good Will store when I went there looking for cheap paperbacks to use in an altered books workshop in June 2005. It's been sitting on my desk since to be read in bits and pieces of down time. Some bits of it were fun.
Marjie
Thought this book would be the perfect read while in Baja but was very disappointed. May's endeavors in gardening and entertaining friends while in Maine was boring and offered little insight into her books and poems.
Sara
...the best of may sarton. just when i thought i simply could not fall in love with her voice, i did. i read most of this journal while sitting in our garden, daydreaming of days passing and seasons shifting...
Gail
Like all Ms Sarton's journals, this one is a treasure. Her descriptions of the sea, her gardens, the life she builds here ..all reflect her poetic skills. I recommend this highly.
Danielle
Interesting insight into mid-70s politics while it was happening, interspersed with the sadness and loneliness of impending old age alone in a seafront house in Maine.
Lee
'The great thing with any creative work is that it is never repetitive. The problems are always fresh, one is never bored ...'
Ashley
a heart opening, quieting journal so far. considers aging and solitude and being able to achieve both with simple grace
Lisago5
Sarton moves to the coast of Maine, renovates a house on the sea, and writes more beautiful books.
Maryjoamani
Another lovely journal by May Sarton. See my other reviews on May Sarton's works.
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May Sarton (May 3, 1912-July 16, 1995) was an American poet, novelist, and memoirist born in Wondelgem, Belgium. Many of her novels and poems are pellucid reflections of the lesbian experience.

More about May Sarton...
Journal of a Solitude The Fur Person As We Are Now Plant Dreaming Deep Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing

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