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Hannah Coulter

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  10,369 ratings  ·  1,748 reviews
Hannah Coulter is Wendell Berry's seventh novel and his first to employ the voice of a woman character in its telling. Hannah, the now-elderly narrator, recounts the love she has for the land and for her community. She remembers each of her two husbands, and all places and community connections threatened by twentieth-century technologies.
Paperback, 190 pages
Published September 30th 2005 by Counterpoint LLC (first published 2004)
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Jamin No, but you will get more out of it if you read at least Jayber Crow first. That way, you will gain an understanding of The Membership of Port William…moreNo, but you will get more out of it if you read at least Jayber Crow first. That way, you will gain an understanding of The Membership of Port William whose lives intersect so intimately throughout all of Wendall Berry's stories of Port William. A Place On Earth is another good one to read first as the Feltner's play a large role in that book and they are also intricate in Hannah Coulter's younger years.(less)
Susanna This article was helpful to me. I just finished Hannah Coulter, my first book by Wendell Berry.
This article was helpful to me. I just finished Hannah Coulter, my first book by Wendell Berry.

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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  10,369 ratings  ·  1,748 reviews

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“This is the story of my life, that while I lived it weighed upon me and pressed against me and filled all my senses to overflowing and now is like a dream dreamed.”

There aren’t too many writers out there that can offer such a sense of peace to my entire being while reading. Wendell Berry’s words are like that soothing cold cloth that was laid upon your forehead by a loved one when you were a young child. That dish of ice cream to ease a sore throat. The little comforts of a bedroom and the care
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2012, 2017
Wendell Berry, perhaps more than any other author, understands the connection people have with place. Not only this, but he has captured the wisdom and grace that age provides to those willing to understand and to learn. This book is profound and prophetic in so many ways--it weaves an emotional web of beauty, happiness, life, faith, and hope. Yet Berry is not a naive optimist. He understands the pain of life and captures it as well as any of the other range of human emotions.

Hannah Coulter tell
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gentle readers
Shelves: read-in-2020
The best thing about returning to Port William was to reunite with Berry’s gentleness. This time, the voice of Hannah Coulter, steady, measured but full of reposed emotion, took me back to a place where neighbors were family, where life couldn’t be understood without compassion and gratitude.
It’s always humbling to meet a character that speaks of life without regrets and of people with unselfish love in spite of the unfairness that often befell upon her. I will certainly remember Hannah’s medita
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am making a gift to myself, a promise to read all of Wendell Berry’s novels. Hannah Coulter is my latest stop on that journey though Port William, and, as always, I am sitting after closing the book with misty eyes and a full heart.

How can one be so wise and yet so human? I felt inclined to mark every other passage, but in the end, I didn’t want to step outside the story even long enough to drag the yellow marker across the page. As is so often the case with Berry, this is not a plot driven st
Diane Barnes
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reads, favorites
I had to sit for awhile and collect myself after finishing this one. Nathan's funeral hit me hard, Hannah's worry over her children's lives in the modern world were familiar, the loss of the old ways because of progress that can't be stopped or ignored, but that destroys so much that is good in human relationships; reading about these things in the midst of this year of 2020, when change is occurring exponentially day after day, has left me emotionally drained. In a good way, because, after all, ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My introduction to Wendell Berry was his novel “A World Lost.” Truth be told I was not impressed, and I remember several GR friends offered suggestions on other books by him to read. I very much liked this novel. The writing/prose was par excellence.

The story line was excellent. It wasn’t sappy. Hannah tells the story and her remembrances held my attention throughout. I very much liked Hannah and her first husband Virgil and her second husband Nathan. And all sorts of people around them…Hannah’s
May 18, 2019 rated it liked it
[2.5] I am both disappointed and unmoved by Hannah Coulter I knew it was going to be a "quiet" novel about an elderly woman's contemplations about her past. For a while I enjoyed her memories. And Berry writes well.

But the novel is so insular it stopped making sense to me. Hannah Coulter lives in Kentucky in the 1930s to early 2000s yet she is completely cut off from the outside world. The only outside event mentioned is WWII, even though Hannah and Nathan have a son who seems to have been of a
This was a perfect follow-up to recently reading Berry’s Jayber Crow. It gave me a chance to revisit the fictitious farming community of Port William in north central Kentucky, which barber Jayber Crow considered as a form of heaven. In this tale, published four years later in 2004, Hannah marries into a clan of farmers in Port Royal at the onset of World War 2 and finds her version of bliss there. She records her memories, reflecting back from a point where she is an isolated widow at age 78. H ...more
Connie G
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Most people now are looking for 'a better place,'which means that a lot of them will end up in a worse one. I think this is what Nathan learned from his time in the army and the war. He saw a lot of places, and he came home. I think he gave up the idea that there is a better place somewhere else. There is no 'better place' than this, not in 'this' world. And it is by the place we've got, and our love for it and our keeping of it, that this world is joined to Heaven."

"Hannah Coulter" is a deligh
Mark Porton
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berryis one of my favourite books of 2020.

The story is narrated by Hannah Coulter and centres around a fictional town called Port William (I looked it up on Maps, with no joy) in a Kentucky farming community. Berry takes us across several generations, introducing the reader to the family, relatives, lovers and friends Hannah encounters throughout her life. I was worried I wouldn’t remember them all, but Berry treats the reader with absolute care in this regard. We learn
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Such an insightful book. The sentimental in me really was affected by Hannah's memories and observations of the changing times. It definitely increased my longing to be a part of a community (a "membership", if you will). Anyone want to be a part of my community? We'll all move out to the country and live within walking distance of each other, our kids will grow up together, and we'll experience life's joys and sorrows together. Seriously, when I read books like this, I realize just how old-fash ...more
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the life of me, I'm finding any and all words inaccurate and insufficient to relay the painful beauty of Hannah's tough and tender resolution to her world.
Aside from having been "reset," in order to view one's own circumstances with a fresh eye and perspective, it would seem better to simply recommend a read of Wendell Berry's resilient Hannah.

Her words, through his incomparable pen, explain it so much better...
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is so poetic and thoughtful. So genuine I had to keep checking to see that this was fiction. Hannah is so real. This review by John describes it so well:

Thank you to Lora for urging me to read this.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Angela M, Cathrine
“I began to trust the world again, not to give me what I wanted, for I saw that it could not be trusted to do that, but to give unforeseen goods and pleasures that I had not thought to want.”

Oh, how I loved this book. Wendell Berry is truly a national treasure. While I've previously read many of his poems and essays, Hannah Coulter represents my first experience with Berry's fiction.

"Coulter" is one of the last installments of Berry's novels which are set in the fictional town of Port William,
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laysee by: Steve Sckenda

I had enjoyed Wendell Berry’s “Jayber Crow” so much I was eager to befriend another character that lived in the same community. It is lovely to return to Port William, Kentucky. I derive pleasure in getting to know Jayber’s friends in a new way. There is Burley Coulter, the life-wire of any party and a talented storyteller. There is consistency in the caring solicitude of Danny and Lyda Branch, the “salt of the earth” couple. The abundant goodwill makes membership in Port William something to co
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book is a gift. I first heard about Wendell Berry in college when we were studying nature writers and I think we read some of his poetry. But I haven't really thought of him since then, yet I am so glad I picked this up. I loved this novel. It's about a small farming community and covers the life of one woman in that community. The way people are in this book and their values feel so familiar to me, and I don't find many books like that. And although there is much about this that feels ...more
Tom Mathews
All my life I have heard church congregations singing of “A Balm of Gilead”. To be honest, I had no idea what that referred to, but I sure liked the sound of it. It sounded like something that can be used to soothe a troubled soul, which is doubtless why it came to mind when I was reading this book. Hannah Coulter is a very gentle tale of a life spent on a farm in northern Kentucky. It moves much more slowly than the turbulent times we live in. It lacks conflict and has no villains to speak of. ...more
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wendell Berry, a favorite author, takes us once again to the small farming town of Port William Kentucky in this insightful story of Hannah Coulter the first female protagonist in this read alone series. Hannah is old now but is recollecting her life as a poor farmer’s daughter
who became a wife two separate times to men who served in WWll with only one returning to help her build a hardworking but well appreciated life on their “own place.” I really enjoy Berry’s writing which is deceptively si
Cindy Rollins
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread, 2020
The first time I read Hannah Coulter I did not love it. I believe it was because I did not like what I perceived as the barrenness of Hannah's later years. Now that my own nest is empty, it is more helpful to read how to make a rich life after the children are gone. There are times when Berry's maleness does shine through in this novel but even so, it is a pretty perceptive book on the changing times and all that it means to men and to women.
Vit Babenco
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Hannah Coulter is a straightforward story of a straight life – a type of modern pastoral…
“The room of love is another world. You go there wearing no watch, watching no clock. It is the world without end, so small that two people can hold it in their arms, and yet it is bigger than worlds on worlds, for it contains the longing of all things to be together, and to be at rest together. You come together to the day’s end, weary and sore, troubled and afraid. You take it all into your arms, it goes a
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a quiet, simple book about an older woman reflecting on her life. It was a good simple life on a farm that not only sustained her and her husband and children but became them, the fabric of their life. It shows her thankfulness for the life she chose. It also goes into a time of close neighbors, sharing, simplicity, hard work, safety -- a time that seems to be gone. It also addresses her disappointments and losses. The writing just flows and there' so many beautiful, meaningful lines. "W ...more
Many people will enjoy this more than I do. I would not classify it as religious, but instead inspirational in tone. I prefer grittier books; I want to see how people struggle and then maybe resolve their problems. Here we are told the story after it is completed, all solved, by a woman who is happy with her life.

We are told of Hannah Coulter’s life. We are told by Hannah. She is almost eighty. She was born in 1922 and now it’s the year 2000. She lives in the fictive town of Port William, Kentu
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Oh this is gently written and quite a family tale. It's a wonderful window into a woman's life lived in Port William, Ohio farmland from birth in the 1930's to just after the turn of the 21st century.

But is it SAD! It is an ordinary life. And it holds so many connections to all humans in their options for future as they go through becoming adult and also for the saying of goodbye over and over if you live long enough. BUT as much as I wanted to love this gentle voice, and the writing was actual
Lori Keeton
Wendell Berry has created a masterpiece in his collection of Port William stories. I am only now familiar with two members but will get to know the entire membership before long! Hannah's story is a remembrance of her life, a telling of the place that holds such meaning to her and of the people whom she dearly loves. The two are intertwined for Hannah.

"Now I know what we were trying to stand for, and what I believe we did stand for: the possibility that among the world's wars and sufferings two
Ashley Jacobson
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-fiction
July 2019- I re-read this to compare to A Lantern in Her Hand. I decided Lantern is the ultimate motherhood book. Abbie is an amazing mother mentor/example. Hannah is a great example of relationships- marriage, neighbors, friends (who become family). And her story is an ode to the way things used to be, when the village mentality was real. Those who live in Port William say they are part of a membership. It becomes part of who you are and gives you a place to belong. Just beautiful.

Feb 2018- Is
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If our country had a summer reading assignment it should be this book. These people experienced everything we have or are experiencing, war, loss, hope, expectation, tight times, hard work, divorce, infidelity, death, disease, unaccounted time, loss of place but they experienced them all with dignity and poise. But what a homecoming Berry presents us with at the end of Hannah Coulter. I feel a sense of loss since finishing this book but Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ages 35 and up and those looking for a slow, comfort read
An elderly lady looks back upon her life. What can I say? I just loved this book and everyone in it. This is the second book that I have read by Wendell Berry, and so far, my favorite.

This is the story of Hannah Coulter’s life – her childhood, marriage, family, and about how life goes on. One part that truly resonated with me is her experience and pain when their children leave home. Nothing much happens in this book. No big elaborate story line or plot.

This story has reminded me to live in the
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry is a warmly-rendered story illustrating the author's credo via an extended family of Kentucky folks who for the most part inhabit a world of "making do & doing without" but who take great pleasure in the land on which they and generations of their kind have called home. The primary focus of the novel is Hannah Coulter but Berry has created a community of characters whose universe might be said to mirror Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County on a much smaller & less prim ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A few years ago, gave away Hannah Coulter for free; they still do a free giveaway each month.

Last spring I decided to listen while I walked the dog. I was really enjoying it, but there was so much that I felt like could go into my commonplace and listening was inferior to reading so I set it aside.

This winter I decided that it was worth finishing even if I couldn't take notes and picked it back up again in Part 2 and today I finished the book. I was crying while drivi
Sharon Metcalf
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, audiobook
4.5 stars

Thank you to my GR friend Candi whose compelling review guided me towards this delightful book. In fact, so convinced was I, that I decided not to add it to my TBR for fear it might languish there never to be read. Instead, I sought out Hannah Coulter, a novel by Wendell Berry, immediately. My library had the audiobook version available so I snatched it up and I'm so very glad as this was a lovely listening experience. Narrated by Susan Denaker, I could have happily stayed in Hannah Cou
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Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English and poet. He was born August 5, 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky where he now lives on a farm. The New York Times has called Berry the "prophet of rural America."

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