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Plant Dreaming Deep

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  507 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
May Sarton describes living at her eighteenth-century house in Nelson, New Hampshire—how she acquired it, how it and the garden became part of her.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1968)
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Mar 12, 2011 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Plant Dreaming Deep is a memoir of writer May Sarton's first ten years in her first home in Nelson, NH.

I first read this book when in my twenties and in full stride as an ex-urbanite in the deep north woods of Minnesota. I felt a deep kinship with Ms. Sarton, even then, yet what a different perspective now at 58 and living independently in my first home, embracing with relish, reverence, and a sense of discovery, the treasure of life in common with a wide variety of neighbors and the many, many
May 05, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
May Sarton is such a calming influence. This is a book I've returned to several times when I need to slow down, pay more attention to the world around me. (She also was a firebrand feminist back before women "did that sort of thing," so she's no shrinking violet.) This is about creating a home for herself -- space and solitude and atmosphere in which to write, a garden in which to replenish herself. It's a book full of hope and goodwill and patience, the learning to cultivate thereof.

I original
Paula Cappa
May 22, 2015 Paula Cappa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
May Sarton! Why aren't people reading this insightful author anymore? Plant Dreaming Deep is one of her best books, full of her poetic thoughts and observations as she lives in an 18th century house on thirty acres in Nelson, New Hampshire in the late 1960s. Drama? Yes. Here is a woman in her mid forties, living alone with the power of silence, light pouring through the windows, and the ghosts of time. May describes herself as a passenger "inward and outward bound." She is a poet, a fierce write ...more
Aug 01, 2008 John rated it really liked it
I read this one after reading the actual journals in order, so my perspective is likely a bit different.

The pros: May does almost no complaining here, quite a contrast from the journals! She does a terrific job evoking a sense of place, more so than later in York, ME, although she does not own that house itself. The book has almost the feel of James Herriott, without the animals. The last section has a foreshadowing of the changes the 60's would bring to the area; it's a story of the tail end of
Apr 05, 2015 Daniela rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-or-diary
4 1/2 stars

"Silence was the food I was after, silence and the country itself - trees, meadows, hills, the open sky. I had wanted air, light and space, and now I saw that they were exactly what the house had to give. The light here is magic."

Plant Dreaming Deep is May Sarton's wonderful memoir of how she bought her first house in New England in the 1950s and the first 10 or so years she spent there.
Included are Sarton's thoughts about the rich history of the house, how she made it her own, the
Jul 19, 2015 Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the poetic rhythm of this memoir. I really enjoyed this memoir for Mary's insights; European roots collide with the American Dream. We should all spend time thinking about our roots and how it impacts our present day lives.
Sarah Ansani
Upon finishing this book, I am grateful that my boyfriend finally found the memoir section in the bookstore. I am thankful for the stool that happened to be--right there--so I could see the spines of the books I otherwise couldn't reach. I am also thankful that I "saw something" in a slim, cloth-bound, modest book with just the title and author jet black inked on its spine. A very unassuming book, indeed. But I bought it anyway, for three bucks.

I am grateful because I love this book. In the pres
May Sarton writes of art, community, humanity, work, and nature, but more than anything else, she speaks to the role that place plays in all of our lives, and the way that making one's own place in the world is a beautiful struggle. Her account of finding a home in rural New Hampshire made me homesick for my own childhood on a farm in Maine. There's an honesty in her view of the world and its flawed people that I love. This was just the right book to read today.
Sherry (sethurner)
I read this because one of my former university professors, Margot Peters wrote a biography of the writer/poet. After hearing Peters speak, I decided I wanted to learn more about May Sarton. Sarton's autobiograpical book describes renovating and moving into a house where she can write and feel at peace. It's not a slender volume, but I really enjoyed her ruminations about her home and environment.
I picked up this book purely by chance, because I loved the title. The way I see it, there's two ways of looking at this book.

Way #1: middle aged white lady buys a house and talks about it a lot, sprinkling excerpts from famous poems as she goes.

Way #2: this is a beautiful, poetic explanation of how someone falls in love with a house, against all odds. She buys the house, moves into it, and gets to know it. This book is like the movie version of Under the Tuscan Sun, full of joy in a time when l
Feb 20, 2016 Andrea rated it it was amazing
I have yet to read one of May Sarton's books of poetry or fiction, something that I dearly need to remedy, but her non-fiction pierces straight through to the heart of the matter. Even though on the surface she is writing about her first ten years living in Nelson, New Hampshire, it is really about poetry and life.
Jul 07, 2015 bea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a fan of the trope wherein the writer describes fixing up a derelict dwelling in San Miquel Allende, the south of France, or (in this case) rural New Hampshire, which through his/her vision (and hours of work on the part of colorful local laborers) becomes an enviable and enchanting abode. However, May Sarton's book is smarter and better-structured than most of this genre. She was considered an old-fashioned writer some 60 years ago when she wrote this, and her style feels sweet or overw ...more
Oct 01, 2015 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed rereading this book. It had such an influence on me when I first read it, and I enjoyed it very much this time again!
Claudia Mundell
May 03, 2016 Claudia Mundell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book over thirty years ago when I found it by accident. It started my reading all of Sarton's work I could get, but it is her journals that are my favorite. Plant Dreaming Deep tells of the poet's move to a New England village and her life there among books, people, and gardens. I decided to reread it now and found it every bit as good as I did as a younger reader. It is a lovely picture of village life in the 1960's...of a poet's life it is a history now as well as a ...more
May 20, 2013 Talia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I woke to sunlight, the washed crystal air after storm, the maples all lit up, translucent, a brilliant world of blue and gold, almost incredible after the darkness of the day before. I was learning right away the immense pleasure it is to have no idea what one will see on waking..." (p53).

I enjoyed all of this short personal memoir by novelist/poet May Sarton, who documents with grace her first solo year in a run-down country home on 30 acres that she restored in Nelson, New Hampshire. Contemp
Mar 15, 2011 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh gosh, I loved this book. It isn't one of her journals but it reads like one and takes you through her first years in her first house, from her first viewing of the house through its renovation, her first visitors, her discoveries with each changing season. May Sarton is who I turn to for affirmation that it's okay to care about friendships and soul-expanding experiences more than anything else--or at least, never to question the centrality of those things and to struggle, if need be, to make ...more
Debbie Spendley
Jul 15, 2015 Debbie Spendley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite writers!

May Sarton was introduced to me by a wise and wonderful friend. I have read many of her novels and always feel that I am "LIVING" her moments of life at the time of the writings. I am always made calm and serene by her words and her simple yet wondrous examples of life living each day to its fullest. She is an American icon of memoir and poetry writing.
Cat A. Olson
If you enjoy descriptive meditative writing and reflections that connect daily events to the more spiritual truths or realities of the inner life then this book is for you. I like this sort of thing. It's May Sarton's description of purchasing and living in solitude at her house in Nelson.
Aug 04, 2015 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-read
May Sarton was a writer who lived in a small town in New Hampshire. This is the story of her the house she bought there and the place where she lived. She is a great observer of place, people and detail.
Dec 02, 2015 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved her style of writing. As a reviewer wrote: "Love is the genius of this small, but tender and often poignant, book by a woman of many insights."
Will definitely read another of her books.
Feb 26, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a beautiful, beautiful book. I've read it so many times. It's unlike May's other work, and it's by far her best, in my opinion. Gentle, luminous, evocative. Read it!
Mary Jane
Jan 28, 2014 Mary Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i think I may have read memoir of Sarton renovating an old farmhouse in Dublin, NH, this before, but my younger self would not have appreciated it as I did this time--meditations on aging, creativity, the discipline of writing--very moving.
Douglas Wickard
Apr 02, 2016 Douglas Wickard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always loved May Sarton. I enjoy her journals, time slows down to a whisper when I read about her life and routine in Nelson. Some wonderful observations worth writing down.
Sep 07, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book after finishing a book that was dark. It was an excellent choice for warmth, solitude and contemplation.
Susan Gangl
Read years ago. We need a category for "want to re-read"!
Liz marx
enjoyed reading about her simple life
Apr 03, 2014 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved! A favorite.
Aug 12, 2007 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Sometimes rereading a book treasured in adolescence is a disappointment--but this account of how the poet/novelist/diarist found and made her home in the small New Hampshire town of Nelson has gained resonance for me with the family losses that recent years have brought. This journal is a moving account of the challenges, practical and spirtual, of her uprooting and resettling and even I, a determined non-gardener, enjoyed the ongoing story of how she made her garden.
Constance Kwinn
Nov 27, 2015 Constance Kwinn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An introverted, middle-aged novelist/poet purchases a run-down country home to connect with herself and her art, create a nest for the precious objects she's collected and inherited, and pursue a quiet life in communion with Nature. It's a sweet, thoughtful memoir of personal influences and what makes a home.

If you think you might find this precious, you probably will. I found it precious in the good way.
Apr 26, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something about books that are about houses and gardens that captures my soul. This is my favorite May Sarton, because the story of the creation of this home space is so..bright, so luscious. A book in which the floor boards seem to have a particular character. And the gardens, the interior and the exterior. And the heart. The passion of the ordinary. Love it.
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May Sarton was born on May 3, 1912, in Wondelgem, Belgium, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her first volume of poetry, Encounters in April, was published in 1937 and her first novel, The Single Hound, in 1938. An accomplished memoirist, Sarton boldly came out as a lesbian in her 1965 book Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. Her later memoir, Journal of a Solitude, was an account of h ...more
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“It is good for a professional to be reminded that his professionalism is only a husk, that the real person must remain an amateur, a lover of the work.” 3 likes
“It is good for a professional to be reminded that his professionalism is only a husk, that the real person must remain an amateur, a lover or the work.” 1 likes
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