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Marriage and Other Acts of Charity: A Memoir
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Marriage and Other Acts of Charity: A Memoir

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  712 ratings  ·  178 reviews
In her award-winning memoir Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup won the hearts of readers across the country with her deeply moving and deftly humorous stories of faith, hope and family. Now, with her inimitable voice and generous spirit, she turns her attention to the subjects of love and commitment in MARRIAGE AND OTHER ACTS OF CHARITY. As a minister, Kate Braestrup regu ...more
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Published January 13th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company (first published December 29th 2009)
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Alison
"'And you want us to actually say 'till death do us part'?" Melanie asked carefully.
..."Look at it this way," I said, "Being parted by death is actually your best-case scenario. Being parted by death is what happens if a marriage works.'"


Kate Braestrup is a minister and the Chaplain to the Maine Warden Service. Part of her duties as a minister is to perform weddings, and counsel those who wish to be married. Using her experiences from her own marriage, and conversations with couples she counsels
...more
Ruth
I bought this after meeting the author at a book reading. I had really enjoyed her first book and jumped at the chance to meet Kate and hear about her second. This one continues with a similar style, and seems to deepen the message of the first. As a person I found her genuine, funny and completely marvelous. I feel like I should re-read both books and take notes.
Linda Lipko
I thoroughly enjoyed Braestrup's first book Here If You Need Me and hoped she would continue with the insightful and beautiful writing. I was not disappointed.

Braestrup is a Unitarian Universalist minister/chaplain who works with the Maine warden service. Tragicially, suddenly widowed in 1996 when her policeman husband was killed in an accident, she was left to raise four children from ages 3-9.

This latest book is a testimony of the difficulty of committed, loving relationships. Unflinchingly to
...more
Angelina
Rev. Kate's latest book is also my least favorite, which is to say, I think she may need to find some new material, and I am a little raw from the feelings it stirred up.

I still love her conversational style, her message of love and acceptance, and the way she embraces her faults. I liked the addition of the Q & A section, and, as with the first two books, I reached the end with a burning desire to be better, love more, and accept the ones I love for the treasures they are.

That said, I've n
...more
Chelsea
I was not as impressed by this one as by Braestrup's first, but I still enjoyed the read.

I mentioned in my review of Here If You Need Me that one of the things I liked about it was that she didn't force a strong narrative, but rather let the story of losing her husband and becoming a chaplain flow naturally. She attempted the same style in this one, but it didn't work quite as well. The loss of her first husband was a strong unifying theme that was lacking in this one - marriage, as mentioned in
...more
Jaci
Kate Braestrup is a Unitarian Universalist chaplain with the Maine warden service. Widowed and left with three small children, her memoir considers commitment and marriage with humor and faith. Quick, enjoyable read.
p.105: "So what was true for me and true for you remained true for Mary Magdalene, even after she learned how to love him, even after his resurrection from the dead: We can't have our dear dead ones back, not as they were, not as we loved them. It isn't the beloved that resurrects. I
...more
Holly
I picked this up at the library because I liked the title. I came away from the book feeling like I just got to know somebody really well. I did not learn anything new and it didn't change me, I just made a new friend in Kate Braestrup.

I didn't always agree with Braestrup, especially sad for me (as I believe it is possible to have an eternal marraige), was this following point of view

"'And you want us to actually say 'till death do us part'?" Melanie asked carefully.
..."Look at it this way," I
...more
Mary
I listened to the audiobook read by the author. Kate Braestrup's gentle, reassuring voice tells the story of her first marriage and what happened after.
Near the end of the book Braestrup repeats something her father told her: If an experience is good, it's good. If an experience is bad, it'll make a terrific story. That's what this memoir is. We hear the good but also the bad and how Braestrup came through the experiences. She is now the chaplain for the Maine Warden Service where she is called
...more
Janet
I liked this scattered memoir, as I did the author's first, "Here If You Need Me," about the loss of her State Trooper husband in a car accident and her subsequent career as the Maine State Game Warden Chaplain. This picks up where that memoir left off. There's a lot of God in here, but it's a god I understand, god as love, and love as a verb. She proposes here that if you can learn to love fully and unselfishly at home, i.e. in your marriage-- for better or worse, from the first kiss to the las ...more
Bridget

Kate is constantly telling the couples remember their wedding vows and love each other even when it isn't easy. She is an ordained minister and wants to let everyone know that there are three different kinds of love.

Kate has known her own marital heartache, mourning her husband who was killed in a car crash. Her marriage wasn't perfect, she and her husband actually went to a marriage counselor. Sometimes you need someone on the outside looking in to give you a clearer picture of your relationshi
...more
Danielle
This didn't live up to the praise that was heaped on the author for her previous memoir, Here if You Need Me. It was okay, and may be great for you if you're underappreciating your spouse, or not realizing that love in any relationship is the true source of joy in this life, but this book was far from offering any life-altering revelations that might make it worth the read. I was particularly put off by her version of christianity (with a lower-case 'c'), which embodied the scripture "Having a f ...more
Betty410
I really liked Kate's first memoir (and you should read it first)"Here if you need me" which sets the scene for this one which comes next in her life. She writes from personal experience as well as that from the heart of a Unitarian and Chaplain to the Maine Warden Service (where she consouls the men of the Forest service)
In the first book she becomes a widow with 4 children and becomes a minister and in this one she remarries a man wiht 2 children so there is a lot of reference to the woes and
...more
Charlotte
I want to be Kate Braestrup's friend. At the very least I want to sit at her feet and listen to her talk for hours upon end. Her kindness, her compassion, her humanity resonates through every word of her new book, Marriage, and Other Acts of Charity. Which, by the way, is the perfect book for Newlyweds to read.

In Kate's (yes, I feel comfortable enough to call the author by her first name) first book, Here If You Need Me you get to see her inner strength as she talks about her journey after the d
...more
Margaret
I loved this book. I love her writing. Kate B. is gracious, thoughtful, funny, and oh so smart. This book is less memoir and more essays on the many forms of love as viewed from her vantage point as a Unitarian minister who believes in one thing for sure, "God is love."

She includes stories from her first marriage and her less-than charitable view of love at that time in her life. Arguments were more prominent than acceptance. Then she experienced a miracle of sorts that changed her overnight. S
...more
Cathy
Okay, so I read this in about 3 days and I really liked it. I recommended this and her first book to my daughter who has waffled about being a minister and is now aiming @ life coach. Reminds me a little of Anne Lamott's recent books w/o the whining (don't get me wrong, I love AL but i guess I'm glad the minister didn't whine.) She draws you into meditations w/o you being aware how thought provoking marriage and how we react to it can be.
Candy
One part humor. One part tragic. A pinch of worry. A dash of anger. A dollop of uncertainty, but sizeable measures of love and you have a book to savor in Marriage and Other Acts of Charity. It's a thoughtful examination of what marriage is, and isn't, and is a real heart warmer. Try this sample to kick off your own marriage discussion: Nothing is more important than ______________. Honest and revealing about what's most significant.
Andrea
The followup to her first book, Here If You Need Me. I was taken by the first book (finding myself in full-out tears within the first 20 pages) and recommended to many (turns out) thankful people. The second book did not disappoint. The stories are filled with humor and grace, and that might be one of the highest compliments I could give. I am thankful that there other people like her in the world. Life gets easier with that knowledge.
Lisa
Kate Braestrup is a disarmingly honest, warm, and often funny woman. I like the life lessons she dishes up--some poignant, some absurd, some hilarious (see the straw up the nose incident in chapter 9). Best of all, I feel more grounded in myself and appreciative of what life has to offer when I have finished with one of her books. Thank you, Kate.
Nita
"'And you want us to actually say 'till death do us part'?" Melanie asked carefully.
..."Look at it this way," I said, "Being parted by death is actually your best-case scenario. Being parted by death is what happens if a marriage works.'"

Truer words have never been spoken.
Holly
I laughed out loud with this book. I made my husband while I read parts of it to him! I get a huge kick out of Kate Braestrup and the way she sees the world. I wouldn't want her job, but she seems to keep it all in perspective. I definitely recommend this book.
Kari Brummond
Something about this topic struck a chord. Also, it reinforced the idea that I might enjoy memoir/essay hybrid rather than straight up memoir.
Nora
Gorgeous little book. I like this woman. I like the way she thinks and her spirituality appeals to me.
Celeste
Stunning, insightful, beautifully written!
Jennifer
From My Blog...[return][return]Marriage, mother-adult child relationships, parenting and friendship are a few touchstones in Kate Braestrup's memoir Marriage and Other Acts of Charity. As a minister, Kate has the pleasure to meet with a lot of couples prior to marriage and has learned a lot about love and marriage over the years. According to Kate her desire to minister and her knowledge of marriage stemmed from her first marriage. Drew and Kate loved each other and yet had difficulty communicat ...more
Soonhar
Braestrup wrote the NYT bestseller Here If You Need Me after the death of her Maine warden husband; her essays of faith, hope and family dealt withhow she coped with her loss. In Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, Braestrup (a Unitarian Universalist chaplain for the Maine Warden Service) follows up with stories of love, including hers that led to her marrying again. I did not read Here If You Need Me but I can imagine it. Braestrup's writing voice is pretty distinctive and it's OK but it's not ...more
Bridget
I had wanted to read Kate Braestrup's earlier book, "Here If You Need Me," after seeing her interviewed on several TV shows shortly after it was published. But, being me, I never thought of looking for it when I went to the library or bookstore.

So when I saw this book at the library, I decided to give it a go. This is Braestrup's stories and musings not just about marriage, but about what love is - all types of love, not just married or romantic love. It's a series of vignettes, where each begi
...more
Martha
I'm a big fan of Kate Braestrup's. We both live in Maine, but we've never met, despite some near misses and one email exchange. I'm looking forward to hearing her speak at a panel on marriage offered by Bangor Theological Seminary this fall. She'll present alongside Marvin Ellison, professor of Christian Ethics and author of "Same-Sex Marriage," which is on my "to read" list.
Not surprisingly, I approached a book on marriage cautiously. I've just been burned, and I must admit to feeling like a p
...more
Mary
I listened to the audiobook read by the author. Kate Braestrup's gentle, reassuring voice tells the story of her first marriage and what happened after.
Near the end of the book Braestrup repeats something her father told her: If an experience is good, it's good. If an experience is bad, it'll make a terrific story. That's what this memoir is. We hear the good but also the bad and how Braestrup came through the experiences. She is now the chaplain for the Maine Warden Service where she is called
...more
Victoria
I loved Braestrup's first memoir so much that I had to pick this one up, despite the title (which didn't and doesn't appeal to me).

Marriage and Other Acts of Charity doesn't begin to hold up to the brilliance of Here If You Need Me: A True Story, but it's still a pleasurable read, full of gems that made me laugh and the occasional insight. The lack of plot coherency that troubled me in the second half of Here If You Need Me is endemic here; the story gets fragmentary at times, leaving me uncerta
...more
MattA
Kate Braestrup is a talented author. I enjoyed the her previous book of essays, Here If You Need Me, but this effort was wanting. The title indicates a focus on marriage, but I found the book's direction to be meandering at best. In theory a meandering direction isn't fatal to a book's readability, but there generally has to be some thread of continuity, and this book didn't seem to have one. Even within chapters the style was disconnected, with passages several paragraphs long being inserted se ...more
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Here if You Need Me/Marriage and Other Acts of Charity 1 14 Feb 14, 2010 08:48PM  
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“God is love, John’s Gospel tells us. That’s a whole theology in three words. The practical application of that theology—God is love—is nearly as simple. Be as loving as you can, as often as you can, for as many people as you can, for as long as you live. Why should you do this? Because.” 2 likes
“All loves have much in common, and any one will offer a useful, if not painless, education in the limitations and possibilities of being human. If you give your committed love to a person, an idea, or a cause, even should that person, idea, or cause be taken from you, or proven false, you will be a better lover—of anyone, of anything—for the experience. Because I am as religious person, I see this in characteristically grandiose, religious terms: The point of being human is to get better (and better) at caritas, at agape, at love.” 1 likes
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