Bob Stocker's Reviews > Hannah Coulter

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
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Jun 07, 13

Read from December 21 to 28, 2011

Wendell Berry's novel Hannah Coulter tells the life story of a farmer's wife who was born in 1922 and lived into the 21st century. There are few surprises. Many of the events in her life typify the changes in rural America during the last century. Even events that might otherwise be surprising are foreshadowed. Nevertheless, I found the book enthralling. The prose is simple, at times beautiful, and frequently seasoned with wisdom.

This is a book with a message. Berry loves nature and people who live close to the land. He deplores the replacement of small-scale, sustainable family farms with mechanized agribusinesses. He mourns the loss of close-knit farming communities to suburban sprawl. Here's what he says about a rental house in Port William where the novel takes place:
...the people who rent houses in Port William are now commuters who come here to live because they can't find a "better place." And so the house suffers not only from the wear of use, but also from the wear of indifference. When love for a place is not living in it, you will know just by driving by it on the road.
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