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Recovering: A Journal
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Recovering: A Journal

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  314 ratings  ·  28 reviews
May Sarton's sixty-sixth year, 1978-79, was a difficult time: a cherished relationship came to an end, she had a mastectomy, she fought against depression. But, she writes, "When there is personal darkness, when there is a pain to be overcome, when we are forced to renew ourselves against all the odds, the psychic energy required simply to survive has tremendous force." Th ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 17th 1997 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1980)
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(3.5) This journal covers January to November 1979. Sarton was recovering physically from surgery for breast cancer and emotionally from the end of a 30-year relationship with Judy Matlack, a former lover who was in a nursing home, declining gradually from Alzheimer’s.

I’ve been reading Sarton’s journals at random, rather than in chronological order. Journal of a Solitude is still my favorite, and I slightly prefer At Eighty-Two to this one. As always, though, there are wise words about t
Dec 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A journal (diary) writer cannot help but compare one's own to the superior eloquence of May Sarton's. Although she planned to publish her journal, her entries are brutally honest. Whatever she might have censored for the public, so much more is revealed. The year (December '78 through November 1979) progressed from utter despair and rages to a much more accepting understanding of her life and its painful changes. (It came to me near the end that she must have been bipolar.) Dated December 29, 19 ...more
Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
I was impressed by parts of this book, in particular when Sarton writes about her mastectomy and her lover's suffering from Alzheimer's - but long chunks of the journal seem to have a sort of relentlessly upbeat tone, as she's writing about named friends who will be reading every word and so can't say anything remotely critical. I'll be interested to read one of her novels and see if she has more freedom to express herself in fiction. ...more
Oct 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: journal-diary
So everyone knows that I love May Sarton, and this journal was no exception. This was written in her sixties, as she was recovering from breast cancer. She writes about her struggles with love in a way I can relate to, as well as the pain of losing her long-time partner to alzheimers.
Nicola Pierce
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this just as much as I enjoyed the other Sarton journals that I've recently read. Can't get enough of her journals. Typically, I'm not interested in seeking out her novels. Once I read a writer's nonfiction - be it a diary, letters or autobiography - I find it impossible to work up a desire to read their fiction. I'm so grateful to Sarton for keeping so many journals! I also googled and found the film that was made about her, 'World of Light'. So wonderful to see bits of the house and ...more
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
1978-79 wasn’t a good year for May Sarton, including as it did a mastectomy and the increasing dementia of her friend Judy Matlack. This volume of her diaries is as honest and intimate as her readers would expect, and chronicles the ups and downs of those months. Essential reading for her fans but the book could also be an introduction to her writing and thinking and I found it an interesting and compelling read.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Quotes from the book:

"I believe that there are more urgent and honourable occupations than that incomparable waste of time we call suffering." ~ Collette

For me the moral dilemma ... has been how to make peace with the unacceptable ...

.. a spacious austerity.

Tenderness is the grace of the heart, as style is the grace of the mind ...

Sometimes the unmeasured, the unlimited natural powers are what I need, what everyone needs. I am tired of measure, control, doing the right thing.

The worst thing righ
Melanie Griffin
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I truly enjoyed this book. It's the nature of a journal to capture an author's voice, and I felt as if May and I became fast friends as I read about her story and struggles. I have a lot in common with her, struggling with my writing, escaping to my lovely house in New England, cherishing my feline friends and the local wildlife, reveling in the latest changes in the perennial bed. She had a lot of loss in her life and was grieving the loss of a lover when she wrote Recovery. Her ups and downs w ...more
Though dealing with loss (physical and emotional), this one is more upbeat than the previous journals; revolving cast of characters can be a bit overwhelming, but that's the way her life was! I'm not an animal person, but Tamas and Bramble's appearance are interesting. She seems to encounter lots of snowstorms - I went to college in Maine around that time and don't recall such harsh weather as she describes. At times her descriptions of New England sound more like the Aleutian Islands! ...more
Josephine Ensign
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
It seems so strange to me now to wrap my head around the fact that she wrote this 'personal' journal specifically with the aim of having it published. She acknowledges this tension in the book. While there are a few nuggets of interesting self-insights, much of this is her quoting long sections of other people's writing and adding a brief reaction to it. Disappointing after having read her much more engaging Journal of Solitude. ...more
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
See my review on A Reckoning by May Sarton. This journal, one of many May Sarton wrote over the years, is wonderful! She writes it at age 67 after two hard years of difficult events (unrequited love, mastectomy, poor review of recent novel). She struggles in the journal with depression and even that struggle causes her to question her resolve but despite the struggle, so much light shines in her daily detailing of friends' visits, gardening, long walks, her dogs. Read and enjoy! ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second May Sarton journal in a month. The first I read with my memoir group, which was sharply divided between Sarton-haters and Sarton-lovers. I was in the latter group - I appreciate her journals for their unique, transparent nature. If hearing about the inner life of an accomplished writer (who is in her sixties, lives in solitude and is a lesbian) sounds interesting to you, then I'd recommend this. Otherwise, skip it - she'll drive you crazy. ...more
Allie Mullin
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: creatives, expand
I love reading May Sarton's journals. She really probes the conflict creative minds experience towing the line between introvert and extrovert in honest journal entries and exploration of everyday life. I do find the torment she experiences by choosing to live in solitude really painful and sometimes scary, though. ...more
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love May Sarton's journals! I wish I would have met her or would meet someone who knew her...she sounds like an interesting woman! ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have read a couple of Ms. Sarton's journals now and I have to say this is by far one of my favorites! ...more
Mary Beth
Mar 28, 2013 added it
Shelves: read-wv-150
I enjoy reading journals about women living in solitude. This one had some wonderful insights, but it wasn't the best of its nature. ...more
Jay Cardam
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-autobio
I'm currently rereading Sarton after many years( like 30) and enjoying the journals even more this go around. What my gut reacted to when I was 30 now becomes so much clearer in my 60's. ...more
Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious readers people who think
Recommended to Stephy by: My Mother
May Sarton is a word smith beyond compare. But I already knew that.
This is a book I am dipping in and out of at the moment as the need arises, I love her style of writing.
Rebecca Dosick bernzweig
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A clear view into the heart and mind of May Sarton during a pivotal year in her life. I felt the images and insights getting stronger and more poignant the further into the book I got. I feel enriched by reading this journal and will definitely be reading some of her other books - fiction, poetry and other journals. Well worth the time.

Also, if you're interested, throughout the book she speaks of being interviewed for a documentary about her life, her writing and her poetry which was lovingly fi
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
May Sarton's journals are such quiet and contemplative books. I am slowly working my way through all of them (in no chronological order) as my sleepy time reading. She is such a fascinating woman - full of wonderful observations, sometimes ornery, occasionally a total a**hole - but always willing to say the hard truths about her life. I so respect the commitment that she has to her own truth, to her own time, and to her writing. Her examinations of concepts have often mirrored my own -- this jou ...more
Megan Dust
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable journal about a woman trying to rediscover herself in her later years. It was very interesting to read and her about her life. I have never read Sarton before and I think this was a good start to her life.
Siqi Yang
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not my fav
Liz Oneill
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love how she phrases thoughts. She has become a writing role model. My partner left me many of her books. I've got to look for the next. ...more
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peaceful pre bed read

Every night a read of several dairies calm me down to ease into sleep. It’s beautifully written as from an old wise friend
Kate Lindemann
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was written about Sarton's experience of mastectomy. I found it honest and helpful as I faced my own cancer diagnosis. ...more
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I definitely read this book at the right time in my life. I took away such a strong sense of self and understanding, and reassurance of my own feelings upon finishing this book. Remarkable. I’m looking forward to reading more by May Sarton.
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May Sarton was born on May 3, 1912, in Wondelgem, Belgium, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her first volume of poetry, Encounters in April, was published in 1937 and her first novel, The Single Hound, in 1938. An accomplished memoirist, Sarton boldly came out as a lesbian in her 1965 book Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. Her later memoir, Journal of a Solitude, was an account of h ...more

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