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Clear Springs: A Memoir

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  215 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
In this beautiful memoir, the bestselling author of "In Country" and "Spence & Lila" tells her own story, and the story of the Masons of Clear Springs, Kentucky. of photos.
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published April 20th 1999 by Random House (first published 1999)
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Audra Wolfe
Oct 02, 2007 Audra Wolfe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: former farm girls
I loved this book. Western Kentucky isn't exactly an area that attracts a lot of attention from contemporary writers, but Bobby Ann Mason captures the voices and attitudes of this area perfectly. I first read it just a few years after I left Southern Indiana for the city (Philadelphia) and was feeling homesick for a certain kind of good-hearted hillbilly. The book is mostly about her grandmother, a stubborn and resourceful woman who held on through the Depression only to find herself marooned in ...more
Mar 02, 2015 HeavyReader rated it liked it
I think the only other thing I ever read by Bobbie Ann Mason is her short story "Shiloh." I am pretty sure I read the story while I was still in high school. I think it was in the thick anthology I won in a writing contest when I was in 10th or 11th grade. The story was about a relationship on the brink of falling apart, and it changed something inside of me, made me really feel for those two people, something that "adlut" fiction hadn't yet done for me very often.

So this year I'm on a memoir ki
Apr 21, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm an appreciative fan of Bobbie Ann Mason's short stories, about rural people raised with traditional values now somewhat at sea in a world of consumerism, pop culture, and a new morality. Young adults, whose parents would have stuck with a marriage come hell or high water, now divorce and drift through relationships. Their parents tied to the land and other life-long occupations, Mason's post-war generation is less rooted, freed of conventional beliefs, but often at a loss about what to belie ...more
Jul 05, 2016 Mom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"My grandmother baked cookies, but she didn't believe in eating them fresh from the oven. She stored them in her cookie jar for a day or two before she would let me have any." These are the opening words in Bobbie Ann Mason's memoir, Clear Springs. And with those simple words, she gripped my attention and held it.

Bobbie Ann Mason grew up in rural Kentucky and she writes about herself and her family, especially her grandmother and mother. The tales felt real, about places and people I knew; alt
Robert Blumenthal
Apr 08, 2016 Robert Blumenthal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall this was a really lovely memoir by a really good writer. It is a memoir of growing up in a small community in Kentucky and, somewhat unusual, there were no awful, damaging events in the author's upbringing (take that, Mary Karr and Frank McCourt). The main theme of the book is the dispelling of the notion that you can never go home again. Bobbie Ann Mason always had a free spirit and she was raised by earnest and loving parents who nurtured that spirit. She left for New York City when sh ...more
Jan 18, 2010 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mason is from Kentucky and writes about her community and family history in Clear Springs, KY which I think is wonderful and I imagine most interesting to her kith and kin rather than to the American public at large. How this book received a New York Times Notable book distinction escapes me. It seems to speak to a smaller audience. On a positive note, however, this book could serve as inspiration for the rest of us to ask the questions of our aunts, uncles, and parents and then sit down and rea ...more
Jul 04, 2012 Florence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bobbie Ann Mason grew up on a farm in Kentucky. The most salient feature of her childhood memories is how hard her parents worked. They were tied to the land. It absorbed all of their energy. The details of rural life were not glamorous for Bobbie Ann. She felt deprived of the variety of experience that one could have in a city. Despite leaving her homeplace, going off to college and becoming a writer she eventually returned to the Clear Springs area, not to farm, but to write. She delves into a ...more
Jun 05, 2013 Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that I am a huge Bobbie Ann Mason fan. I didn't realize, however, when I picked up this book that it's a memoir and not fiction. The story is about three generations of her family growing up in Kentucky. It was a fascinating story about how times have changed and how rural life impacts your view of the world. The stories she tells going back to the turn of the 20th century are fascinating. The depictions are very vivid, including her own child and young adulthood.

It was a treat
Jun 19, 2007 Kira rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Although fulfilling my 8th grade non-fiction reading, this book did not fulfill my expectations of a good story; probably due to the difference in the values of the author and me. Telling the story of a woman's life, this book goes through the stages of her life, but much to my dissapointment, skimmed through her teenage years, focusing mainly on her leaving her farm life and moving into the city to become someone important- something I feel quite the opposite about.
Apr 21, 2009 Lillian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book about Western Kentucky farm life in the 1940s and the girl who couldn't wait to grow up and move away, only to return later in her life. In addition to details about the author's life, we are also treated to the same details about her parents, grandparents and other ancestors who settled in the area in the 1800s.

After reading this book, I felt I had actually traveled down toward the Mayfield, Kentucky, farm and met that interesting family.
Oct 01, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
This is a really lovely, evocative memoir, a portrait of the kind of place and people who are often overlooked. That the place she is from is also the place I am from...well, admittedly, that might have something to do with how much this book resonates for me. But I think it should also have high appeal for those who enjoy Mason's fiction, or Southern fiction in general.
Dec 13, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A memoir of family and place, Kentucky in the mid-20th century. She uses the stories and memories of family members, especially those of her mother as she explores the choices she has made in her own life: why she needed to leave Kentucky as a young woman and why she returned.
Aug 22, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book, a great memoir by author of In Country, a favorite book & movie of mine. Though she is a few years older, I related to her stories of growing up in the fifties, reading Bobbsey Twins, first television, etc.
Mary Beth
Jul 22, 2008 Mary Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to live in Bobbie Ann Mason's hometown, so this book and memoir really resonated with me. Many of the stories she told about her family remind me of mine even though the author and I are of different generations.
Jan 29, 2009 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nothing too special, just a memoir about growing up in the South and fighting to have your own life while still being tied to "home and family". Not the best thing I've ever read, but not the worst either.
Jan 10, 2010 Jaynie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir follows the life of Bobbie Mason as she grows up in Kentucky in the 1940's. It is an interesting look at life on a farm and how people can live off the farm and make everything they need to get by. It is not an easy life.
Mar 04, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, nook
I chose to read this, as Bobbie Ann Mason will be part of a Community College Common Reading celebration. So glad I did! She captures the essence of family through the generations. Now I'll add more of her books to my to read shelf :-).
Aug 04, 2011 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read this book I thought that Mason had somehow tapped into my life and told my own story. I could relate to her life in the country, the people and things that surrounded her and the desire for something more. All my story too! She writes so well, even in this memoir form.
Nov 16, 2008 Connie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Connie by: Mary Beth
I spent much of my early childhood in a four-generation household in a small Kentucky farming community similar to this one depicted by Bobbbie Mason....Many of her memories took me back to that time period. I found her stories all to be very authentic.
Jun 23, 2008 Tasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read everything that Mason has written (she was the topic of my dissertation), and her autobiography is her clearest voice.
Oct 17, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Bobbie Ann Mason's fiction, so when this book popped up on a Goodreads list, I checked it out of the library right away. It did not disappoint!
Shonna Froebel
Jun 19, 2013 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This was very good.
Made me think about my own family history.
Haven't read any of her novels, but will have to add them to the wish list.
Dec 20, 2009 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little too folksy for my tastes. A little bit dull in some places as well, but captures a lost way of life very effectively.
Sep 20, 2012 Tara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written, detailed memoir from novelist Bobbie Ann Mason, sure to be popular with those who remember the South in the early to mid -20th century.
Harold bucy
Feb 05, 2008 Harold bucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Please read this book. She is a fellow Kentuckian who was raised about 20 miles from my home. Clear Springs pays tribute to a wonderful way of life.
Ashley Fairchild
It is beautifully written full of descriptions and experiences in the country of Kentucky. Mason dives into family secrets and the true meaning of home.
Maddy rated it liked it
Jan 17, 2014
Wendy T
Wendy T rated it it was ok
Jul 13, 2009
Julia rated it really liked it
Jun 09, 2012
Susan rated it really liked it
Jul 28, 2012
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Bobbie Ann Mason has won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her books include In Country and Feather Crowns. She lives in Kentucky.
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“One reason to fashion a story is to lift a grudge.” 2 likes
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