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Drinking the Rain: A Memoir

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  505 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
A memoir of spiritualism and self-discovery from the acclaimed, award-winning author

At fifty, Alix Kates Shulman, author of the celebrated feminist novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, left a city life dense with political activism, family and literary community, and went to live alone on an island off the coast of Maine. On a windswept beach, in a cabin with no plumbing, p
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 5th 2004 by North Point Press (first published 1994)
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Amy Wilder
Nov 17, 2009 Amy Wilder rated it really liked it
When I read this book I was twenty years old and it had never occurred to me before but I realized it was quite true that I might live my whole life without ever being really on my own.

That year I drove south to Mexico and north to Idaho and then back home from Arizona to Boston - all three trips on my own (and very much over my father's objections) - and I was keenly aware of everything I had been taught to fear about being a woman alone in a strange place. Almost nothing happened to me that y
Susan Albert
Sep 19, 2015 Susan Albert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tender, revealing memoir about a woman (a long-time feminist/pacifist activist) at mid-life, dealing with a divorce and a new lover and trying to find a place for herself in nature.
May 17, 2011 Rick rated it it was ok
Shelves: personal-account
This book doesn't inspire the reader very much; it's mostly self serving and superficial. Only the last few pages had any thing worthwhile to offer. I had trouble getting through the endless food reports, what she ate, how she prepared it, where the food came from, and on and on. (Why do women authors do this? Sorry, Ladies, but it's true. So many women authors feel the need to write about what everyone is eating and who spent how much time in the kitchen. Male authors focus on action, I guess, ...more
May 04, 2009 Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maine-books
This is a beautiful coming-of-age (age 50, that is) memoir of a woman living on an inhabited Maine coastal island. Moving away from New York City for a while, Shulman learns to slow down, forage for mussels, and live life simply for a restorative spell.
Cosmic Arcata
Jan 31, 2017 Cosmic Arcata rated it really liked it
Memorable. I especially like her wildcrafting her food on the island.
She has a second book about her "husband". Did she really get a divorce or is this a second husband?
Tejas Janet
May 13, 2013 Tejas Janet rated it really liked it
I struggled thru this book at times and came away with mixed feelings. The author has great ability with expository writing, but left me swimming at times thru too many repetitive details. However, it was still a really good book.

The downside is that by book's end, I had tired of reading overly specific listings of wild foods harvested and descriptions of foods prepared. Editing towards this end, I think, would have raised this book from 4 to 5 stars for me.

Detail is crucial in fine writing, b
Aug 06, 2012 Alli rated it really liked it

I have a pretty close connection to Long Island Maine and go there every summer. I know exactly the house she lived in and have stared at it from the beach below many an afternoon thinking two things: one, it had been abandoned and two who the hell would ever leave the most amazing and beautiful spot on earth or at least not spend every second of every summer there? My sister had told me about the writer that owned it- the story of her living in seclusion there and how she came to write "Drinkin
Jan 05, 2008 Venessa rated it it was ok
A memoir written by a woman seeking to make changes in her life now that she is fifty years old. Interesting—I didn’t find myself liking all the things that she did, as I viewed some of her actions as contradictory; i.e. early in the book she moans the disappearance of her beloved mussels and goes searching for them and once she finds them begins gorging on them, without any careful thought of why the mussels disappeared in the first place, and that maybe the excessive harvesting of the tiny cre ...more
Susan Braiden
If I could only own one book, it would be this. Alix Kates Shulman helped me discover the art of long, slow conversations; the abundance in solitude; fearlessness and resilience in reinvention; and the gifts of the natural feast. I discovered this book at a time when, like the author, I was approaching 50, wrestling with the death of a marriage and a restless hunger to reinvent myself (or perhaps actually meet myself for the very first time). Reading it is like immersing in a love letter that yo ...more
Mar 17, 2009 Emily rated it it was ok
Keeping with my current "back to basics" theme, in books, I am reading this. The woman of privilege heads to Maine to live in a cabin alone. And finds her food on the ground and in the water. Okay, so there are flaws. But it's a placeholder, for when my hold books come in. Why do they torture me and make me wait? It is detestable.

Okay, so only the first third of this book is actually compelling. I enjoyed the writing about discovering that nature isn't so bad after all (I might be coming around
Cath Van
Oct 24, 2011 Cath Van rated it really liked it
Shelves: diary-memoir
Easily one of this years favourites. I started out at only two pages a day as I wanted to enjoy the book as long as possible, yet soon squeezed in a few more pages every day. I liked the way the story built from experiencing the island and how to live on less and in solitude, to connecting those experiences to mainlandlife and it's noise and distraction, and in the third section to the world with it's waste and pollution, making it into a book in which all Shulman's feminist issues of years gone ...more
Jun 18, 2011 Sallee rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite "coming of age, surviving divorce" books ever!
Jim Minick
Nov 19, 2016 Jim Minick rated it it was amazing
Great exploring of tidal pool and inner pools.
"At fifty, Alix Kate Shulman, author of the celebrated feminist novel Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, left a city life dense with political acitvism, family,and literary community, and went to live alone on an island off the Maine coast. On a windswept beach, in a cabin with no plumbing, power, or telephone, she found to her astomishment that she was learning to live all over again, discovering capacities for thought, feeling, and sensual delight that she had never imagined before. Her transforming ...more
Nov 12, 2010 Rainbowgardener rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Wonderful magical memoir of a woman at age 50 who abandons her life as feminist activist in New York city to go live in a cabin on a point of land sticking into the ocean off the Maine coast, with no plumbing or electricity. She lives there 6 months of the year for ten years, learning to eat the local flora and fauna and live alone and conquer fears....

The writing is poetic and down to earth, the names of every plant and how it is cooked jumbled in with philosophy and self-discovery. I read it c
Miriam Jacobs
Dec 30, 2015 Miriam Jacobs rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book - the idea of it - a writer retiring each summer to an island off the coast of Maine - what writer would not like to do that? - so it's vicarious enjoyment - you go walking with the writer, you eat the beach greens she gathers, you think - maybe I am under-rating mussels. Should I try them again? And you say, yes, this kind of retreat will work itself into your regular life, will change your life, will bring troubles of a different kind - inevitably. You appreciate the other ...more
Mar 12, 2009 Hannah rated it it was ok
Ordinarily, I'm not into these kinds of menopausal re-awakening narratives about spending time in delicious solitude discovering the wisdom of nature, and I did, indeed, spend good portions of this book glazing over Shulman's ruminations about the transformative power of secluding oneself in a far-flung cottage. But I'm a sucker for descriptions of entire meals cooked with foraged wild greens and wild-caught mussels, so I slogged through this and was rewarded every ten pages or so with sumptuous ...more
Mar 08, 2010 Gloria rated it did not like it
Given the title and the general "theme" of the book, I was expecting, perhaps, a female version of Henry Beston -- or Thoreau.

Given, I appreciate and enjoy good food, but I am, by no means, a "foodie," so the laborious descriptions of the meals made me skim ahead.
I could have probably gotten over that more than the fact that this seemed less of a "get back to nature" kind of book than a feminist treatise.

One of the reasons I enjoy my times away is that they remind me of my insignificance when co
Mar 28, 2014 Grace rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
This was a reasonably interesting memoir of one of the bastions of Second Generation feminism re-finding herself at 50, through an embrace of solitude and nature. I wouldn't call it a great feminist work or anything--in fact, it had very, very little do with feminism in general--but it had some interesting things to say about aging. I tend to shy away and roll my eyes at any and all Walden-esque back-to-nature stories, and had I realized that was what this was going to be, I probably would have ...more
Jan 17, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing
While the world was on an Eat, Pray, Love craze I found this gem of a memoir in a small bookstore on Cape Cod. I have since lent it out to some of my favorite people and almost everyone has loved it. Although the author seems a bit self serving at times, and that can be a huge turn off, her story is fascinating and brave-and quite funny at times. This is a book that proves the power of overcoming your fears and flaws and learning to live again mid-life.
May 23, 2008 Paula rated it it was amazing
Always inspired by Alix Kates Shulman's writings, this "eco-feminist" memoir was no exception. Written in the mid-1990's this book explored the author's life during her 50's when she underwent a transformative experience moving away from NYC and spending part of each year on an island off Portland ME living a solitaire life with no modern amenities. As she scavenged food from the ocean and fields, she gained a new ecological awareness. At the same time her marriage of 30+ years dissolved, she be ...more
Nov 06, 2009 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-and-memoir
Setting and description play a large part in Shulman's story; she's very, very good at that aspect. The latter part of the book focuses more on her personal life (going through an acrimonious divorce, etc.), and, unfortunately, I really struggled to identify with her there - target audience would be educated, professional (liberal) women over 60. As with other memoirs/autobios, I found her friend Margaret's observations (can you call a real person a "secondary character"?) as interesting as, if ...more
May 19, 2010 Eva rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. One woman's memoirs of going to live in a cabin on an island off the coast of Maine. She is searching for solitude and simplicity as she stands at a turning point in her life- turning 50, children have all left home, marriage dissolving, searching to redefine herself. It is well-written and thoughtful. She touches on the feminist movement, environmental issues, and an undefined mystical sense of her place in the world (especially as part of a larger web of life). At turns sobe ...more
Alix Kates Shulman was lucky to have a cottage on an island in Maine to escape to. No electricity or plumbing but propane. She ate off of the land. Seaweed, kelp, various plants, flowers and creatures of the sea like mussels, crabs, clams, and an occasional lobster. Her days were filled with finding her next meal, reading and writing. All of this gave her time to be alone and think and figure things out without demands. Imagine your life without demands. Beautifully written and I am green with e ...more
Aug 21, 2012 Halina rated it it was amazing
Please read this book..especially if you love Barbara Kingsolver's books...specifically "Animal, Vegetable and Miracles". Where Kingsolver and her family lived off their own land for one year..Shulman dedicates her life (well after 50 that is...) to a life of "less is more..". Shulman shares her soul and painful personal details as she decides to live a more authentic, clutter-free life. I wish I were her friend and that she invited me out to her "nubble" out on a remote Island off the coast of ...more
Mar 04, 2009 Brita added it
I've seen this book a hundred times without realizing that it takes place, in large part, on an island in my very own (adopted) Casco Bay. Shulman has some of the same activist post-mortem feelings that I had after leaving Smith (not that my activism held a candle to hers, or every could), so that aspect of the narrative was compelling. However, what I really loved was the food, whether foraged from the island (chapter two) or toured in Budapest (chapter nine). Hints of Michael Pollan, and Barba ...more
MariAn Nyce
Mar 19, 2009 MariAn Nyce rated it really liked it
During her marriage, they purchase a place 'on the nubble' off the coast of Maine - accessible only by ferry - following the raising of the kids and the distance in her marriage, she (a writer) goes there for months on end to finish a book. As it turns out, instead of writing she learns how to 'live off the plants, mussels,' and such to sustain her. Title comes from the cistern used for her water supply. (no electricity there either )
Jul 07, 2011 Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-2011
This book is about a woman who at the age of 50 decides to get away from her loveless marriage and spend a summer of self-discovery at her secluded Main cottage. She spends her time getting to know the land, herself and her future and most of the book is her musings on this process. Sometimes she gets a little preachy (there is no realistic way that I can eat entirely off the land at this point in my life) but her overall lesson is clear and she really reminded me of my Mom.
Jun 23, 2009 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A memoir of a woman in her 60s, looking back on a mid-life crisis, bitter divorce, and personal rebirth. Shulman tells the story of how, for the first time in her life, she learned to be comfortable being alone. She describes her experience moving into a small cottage and living off the land in Maine--this was my favorite part. Her story made me want to move out to the country, eat wild plants and learn how to live simply.
Rachel L
Sep 05, 2013 Rachel L rated it liked it
The writing was superb. Her experience of the simple life in a landscape bare to the naked eye but plentiful and abundant beneath the surface captured my imagination. It was an adventure and an escape. I stopped reading just before the end because I was highly offended by one of her actions in particular. But I may yet finish it. I don't agree with some of her philosophies but she is a gifted writer and this book is unique and beautifully done.
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Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alix attended public schools and planned to be a lawyer like her dad. But in college at Case Western Reserve University she was smitten by philosophy and upon graduation moved to New York City to study philosophy at Columbia grad school. After some years as an encyclopedia editor, she enrolled at New York University, where she took a degree in mathematics, and later, whi ...more
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