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Four Tenths of an Acre: Reflections on a Gardening Life

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  75 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Book by Lisle, Laurie
Hardcover, 219 pages
Published May 3rd 2005 by Random House
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 ·  75 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved loved loved this book so much! I felt like parts of it were my own story. There were many pages where I felt like this book was my blog summed up after many years of careful observation. Laurie Lisle talks about the lifestyle of gardening, the way it enriches and refreshes, inspires beauty and love, and continues a tradition that began hundreds of years ago.

She talks about moving from Sag Harbor to Sharon, Connecticut where she buys a historic home with an oddly shaped yard that she gar
2020 bk 362. About half way through I realized I had read this when it first came out. This book had so much potential to be more, but it degenerated into husbands and married life and uncertainties. There was almost an inclusion of other people's reactions to her gardens, a little reflection on her immediate neighbor's gardens and those of her town. She discussed the back yard for most of the book, but little mention of the face/front yard. I would have liked more about the shared gardening vis ...more
PennsyLady (Bev)
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway
Four Tenths of an Acre: Reflections on a Gardening Life

"The ritual of gardening gives a rhythm, even rapture, to everyday life that is apart from the routines of writing and the flows of relationships.
Tending my garden became the same as taking care of myself."
(Laurie Lisle)

It was a delight to walk life's path with Laurie.
I appreciated the gardening histories and the step by step transformations both of her personal life and the essence of her garden.

Her chronicle often made me pause and consi
Sandy D.
I was a little disappointed in this gardening memoir - it wasn't as humorous as Wm. Alexander (The $64 Tomato), nor as erudite as Michael Pollan or Charles Elliot. But it did have some good information on gardening in the NE (the book is set in Sharon, CT), and a lot of history for someone interested in that neck of the woods. I also really enjoyed her ponderings about women and gardening and how this differs from men and their gardening pursuits.

Sometimes it got a little too self-involved for m
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: garden-books
After years of trying to read “nature books” – and finding them wanting, somehow – I have finally figured out that what I want to read are “gardening books”! Subtitled “Reflections on a Gardening Life,” Laurie Lisle’s book is exactly where I feel most comfortable, musing on the connections between growing things and living a life, debating with myself about issues of artistry and creativity, and all the while landing solidly in the very practical world of weeds and colors and insect pests and we ...more
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a gift from a friend who edited my first collection of poetry and knows me well. Four Tenths is a charming memoir about “the garden and the gardener (who) have grown alongside each over over the years,” a divorcee in her early 40s creating a new life for herself in a historic Connecticut village. Her story and mine have many parallels, and Lisle has inspired me to push my own work to completion. A charming volume perfect for combating the winter blahs as I envision work in my own garden ...more
Kelly Tumbleson
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it
I’m not as interested in growing flowers as I am vegetables, so I had trouble investing in this book. There also seemed to be an incredible amount of misery. Every good story has some angst, but I realized the author didn’t like writing and I was never very certain that she truly enjoyed gardening. As a mom with young children, I don’t get much time to read, and this wasn’t the peaceful garden retreat I’d anticipated. So I will dredge inspiration from the last chapter, and either arrange a blind ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pastoral book about Ms. Lisle's narrow EXTREMELY long back yard in her house in Sharon, Connecticut. She discusses gardening, the weather, the affect of weather on gardening, her life in Sharon, the history of her house and how the men in her life adjusted to her garden. She mentions historical gardeners (very interesting if you have Wikipedia handy). An elegant read. ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dt
This was a very enjoyable book to read, especially given the fantastic weather this summer. Listening to birds and with all the windows open and a nice breeze, this book really fit the scene.
I liked the blend of personal experience and history but I felt like it leaned in too hard to the history.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2017
Josianne Haag
Won in the Goodreads Giveaways.

Having never read a memoir before, I didn't know what to expect. Over all I was pretty underwhelmed: the pacing of the book was really slow, there was no real direction in the story line, and she added in information that was almost boring.

While I knew that this wouldn't be a action packed thriller, I did expect the story to move along at a decent speed. And the beginning was interesting as she got settled into her new house and was gearing up to creating her new g
Anthony Stancomb
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful book, full of the mysteries and intricacies of living with a garden. Written for already faithful gardeners, and full of enchanting detail, it’s not the sort of book that is going to covert anyone, but it is a wonderful hymn to the joys of being a keen gardener.
But the book is more than just about gardens, it’s a book about the writer’s life and how gardening has laced its way through it wherever she was. Throughout the narrative, the author has cleverly woven in brief excerpts fro
Jan 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Booklist says: "Time does not stand still in a garden. Just as winter's tranquility masks the feverish underground activity of bulbs gathering fuel for spring blossoms, so, too, does a life undergo complex metamorphoses as transitions are either chosen or forced upon it. Lisle found herself at just such a turning point following her divorce and, leaving behind the hectic, sophisticated pace she enjoyed as an acclaimed journalist in Manhattan, she set out to find a simpler, more rewarding way of ...more
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a spur of the moment pick from a display about gardening books in the local library. I'm glad I picked it up. Laurie Lisle reflects on her garden, which she began to establish about 20 years before. She bought a new(old) house on a village green in a small Connecticut town after a painful divorce, and proceeded to transform the back yard. As she goes through other relationships, the garden is a place of escape and restoration for her. Lisle was already a published author when she began ...more
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adore this book. Laurie speaks in a tender and honest voice about her own experiences relocating from the city to a small town, weaving together stories of nature, gardening, and universal themes of life. What began as a gardening journal evolved into a memoir with well developed stories and visual clarity. Her expertise as a biographer is apparent in her richly detailed research on her house, her new town, and the plants in her garden that, like life... is a continual work in progress. The la ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, reviewed
I think that the gardening parts were interesting. There was a lot of detail about her oddly shaped garden, and good information on the history of the area, and what does well there. I live somewhere very different so it was nice to read about. However, there was a lot of non-gardening stuff that I didn't care about. I guess it is a called a Gardening Life meaning not just gardening, but I didn't really think it through.
Overall, it was a worthwhile read though.
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am happy to say that I entered and won this giveaway for my mom, and she will hopefully be a new goodreads member soon. Although I have not yet read it, when I received the book I read the first few pages and I know she will enjoy it!
I started out really liking this book, but as I continued with it I became less and less engaged. Not only does the author seem to hold the reader at arm's length, she also seems to distance herself from her own story. I came away not caring very much. ...more
Aug 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jackie
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. I enjoyed it for the most part, but would have enjoyed it more if the author would have included photographs of the garden.
Malia Walter
A fine distraction from my day job. Helped fuel my desire to garden more flowers even though I personally focus on food production.
I enjoyed reading about the author's love of gardens and gardening, and to see how both her personal life and her garden evolves over the years. ...more
Words of wisdom using gardening as a metaphor for life. Inspiring, charming, and full of wisdom
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at gardening, writing and the changes both bring to light and life during a woman's middle ages of life. ...more
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Won in Goodreads Giveaway! Thank!! Enjoyed it!
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good winter read... but slightly disjointed. I would recommend first checking out Margaret Roach or Dominique Browning for this genre.
Donna Gabbard
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Enjoyable read.
rated it it was ok
May 11, 2016
Abigail Gray Swartz
rated it really liked it
Mar 30, 2021
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Jun 17, 2012
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Laurie Lisle's most recent book is her forthcoming memoir, Word for Word: A Writer's Life.

BookLife says "This unconventional memoir details one accomplished woman writer's dedication to developing her voice. It's great for fans of Vivian Gornick's Fierce Attachments and Rebecca Solnit's Recollections of My Nonexistence."

Laurie began her professional life as a journalist then became a biographer

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