Joan Winnek's Reviews > Devotion: A Memoir

Devotion by Dani Shapiro
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
2605869
's review
Jul 22, 11

Read from July 20 to 22, 2011, read count: 1

My first book by this author, it gripped and enlightened me, and prompted me to order more of her books. A well-written, thoughtful memoir that intricately explores many ambiguities, the book draws from private and particular experiences and circumstances, and doesn't lose its footing as it approaches meaning-of-life issues. It's how we live, explored from the perspective of one woman, and enlightened by her explorations into many traditions and practices.

When I finish a book that particularly moves me, I go back through my postit flags and enter some passages on my quotations on this site. I don't know how to share these with my friends, but if you go to quotes and sort for my name and the author (and title maybe), you can see what I've recorded.

I can't resist adding, snarkily, that this book sharply contrasts with Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, which left me mildly disaffected--but now I hate it.
4 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Devotion.
sign in »

Quotes Joan Liked

Dani Shapiro
“I had spent my childhood and the better part of my early adulthood trying to understand my mother. She had been an extraordinarily difficult person, spiteful and full of rage, with a temper that could flare, seemingly out of nowhere, scorching everything and everyone who got in its way. [pp. 40-41]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir
tags: mother

Dani Shapiro
“According to ayurveda, we become what we surround ourselves with. And so it stands to reason that we have to be discerning about what we surround ourselves with." Steve Cope [p. 85]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

Dani Shapiro
“In the country, I stopped being a person who, in the words of Sylvia Boorstein, startles easily. I grew calmer, but beneath that calm was a deep well of loneliness I hadn't known was there. ... Anxiety was my fuel. When I stopped, it was all waiting for me: fear, anger, grief, despair, and that terrible, terrible loneliness. What was it about? I was hardly alone. I loved my husband and son. I had great friends, colleagues, students. In the quiet, in the extra hours, I was forced to ask the question, and to listen carefully to the answer: I was lonely for myself. [p. 123]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

Dani Shapiro
“Rather than feeling vindicated, I felt guilty. It seemed cruel, and all my fault, somehow. My relationship with my mother had always brought into question any sense I had of myself as a good and decent person. [p. 128]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir
tags: mother

Dani Shapiro
“I had no illusions that now, in some final and dramatic flash of revelation, we would understand one another. We were done. It was a fact of my life--intractable and sad--that our relationship had been a failure. Still, with her prognosis came one last chance to be her daughter. [p. 163]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir
tags: mother

Dani Shapiro
“Gone was the reflexive need to see the worst in things. Before the tumors took her life, they gave her a few moments of grace.”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir
tags: mother

Dani Shapiro
“This sadness wasn't a huge part of me--I wasn't remotely depressed--but still, it was like a stone I carried in my pocket. I always knew it was there. [p. 179]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

Dani Shapiro
“It wasn't getting easier because it isn't supposed to get easier. Midlife was a bitch, and my educated guess was that the climb only got steeper from here. Carl Jung put it perfectly: "Thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life," he wrote. "Worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will by evening have become a lie."
... I was writing a new program for the afternoon of life. The scales tipped away from suffering and toward openheartedness and love. [p. 182]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

Dani Shapiro
“Every once in a while, the darkness was too much. It had been quite some time since I had woken up in the middle of the night and into an abyss of terror. But here I was. ... I couldn't soothe myself. ... But if that person had been accessible to me, I wouldn't have been in the state I was in to begin with. [pp. 195-196]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

Dani Shapiro
“I believe that there is something connecting us ... Something that was here before we got here and will still be here after we're gone. I've begun to believe that all of our consciousnesses are bound up in that greater consciousness.
...
An animating presence .... [pp. 205-206]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir
tags: death

Dani Shapiro
“This is in the natural order of things--the time of life we've now entered. The afternoon, as Jung called it. Thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life. Are we unprepared simply because preparation is not possible? ... We learn--if we are lucky we learn--as we go.
... we are in the center of the stream. Much has already happened, and has formed the shape of our lives as surely as water shapes rock. Much lies ahead of us. We can't see what's coming. We can't know it. All we have is our hope that all will be well, and our knowledge that it won't always be so. We live in the space between this hope and this knowledge.
...
Life keeps coming at us. Fleeing it is pointless, as is fighting. What I have begun to learn is that there is value in simply standing there--this too--whether the sun is shining, or the wind whipping all around. [pp.239-240]”
Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir
tags: ageing


Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

message 1: by Teresa (new)

Teresa I saw some of the quotes on my updates page, Joan, and now I see more right below your review. I enjoyed them, especially the one about writing, which I found encouraging.


message 2: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Also, have you read any Annie Dillard, Joan? I've only read her The Writing Life, but something in your review of this book (not sure what) made me think of that book.


Joan Winnek I guess I found a way, accidentally, to do overkill on quotes. Sorry.

I've read Annie Dillard, years ago, not can't quite remember what, only that I loved her. More goodreads research to do.


message 4: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Joan wrote: "I guess I found a way, accidentally, to do overkill on quotes. Sorry.

I've read Annie Dillard, years ago, not can't quite remember what, only that I loved her. More goodreads research to do."


Not overkill at all! I think it's great you added all of them.


message 5: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Nice review, Joan! I enoyed reading the quotes too, many of which are inspiring!


back to top