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Plant Dreaming Deep

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  847 ratings  ·  100 reviews
In Plant Dreaming Deep, Sarton shares an intensely personal account of transforming a house into a home. She begins with an introduction to the enchanting village of Nelson, where she first meets her house. Sarton finds she must “dream the house alive” inside herself before taking the major step of signing the deed. She paints the walls white in order to catch the light an ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by The Women's Press Ltd. (first published 1968)
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Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Plant Dreaming Deep is a memoir of writer May Sarton's first ten years in her first home in Nelson, NH.

I first read this book when in my twenties and in full stride as an ex-urbanite in the deep north woods of Minnesota. I felt a deep kinship with Ms. Sarton, even then, yet what a different perspective now at 58 and living independently in my first home, embracing with relish, reverence, and a sense of discovery, the treasure of life in common with a wide variety of neighbors and the many, many
Diane Barnes
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bedtime-books
Very calming, introspective book about the author's years in the first home she bought and improved in the small village of Nelson, New Hampshire. This was the first of her popular journals about her homes and writing life. ...more
May 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
May Sarton is such a calming influence. This is a book I've returned to several times when I need to slow down, pay more attention to the world around me. (She also was a firebrand feminist back before women "did that sort of thing," so she's no shrinking violet.) This is about creating a home for herself -- space and solitude and atmosphere in which to write, a garden in which to replenish herself. It's a book full of hope and goodwill and patience, the learning to cultivate thereof.

I original
Paula Cappa
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
May Sarton! Why aren't people reading this insightful author anymore? Plant Dreaming Deep is one of her best books, full of her poetic thoughts and observations as she lives in an 18th century house on thirty acres in Nelson, New Hampshire in the late 1960s. Drama? Yes. Here is a woman in her mid forties, living alone with the power of silence, light pouring through the windows, and the ghosts of time. May describes herself as a passenger "inward and outward bound." She is a poet, a fierce write ...more
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one after reading the actual journals in order, so my perspective is likely a bit different.

The pros: May does almost no complaining here, quite a contrast from the journals! She does a terrific job evoking a sense of place, more so than later in York, ME, although she does not own that house itself. The book has almost the feel of James Herriott, without the animals. The last section has a foreshadowing of the changes the 60's would bring to the area; it's a story of the tail end of
This serves as a prelude to the eight journals for which Sarton would become famous. It’s a low-key memoir about setting up home in the tiny town of Nelson, New Hampshire, making a garden and meeting the salt-of-the-earth locals who provided her support system and are immortalized in fictional form in the novel she published two years later, Kinds of Love. At the time of publication, she’d been in Nelson for 10 years; she would live there for 15 years in all, and (after seeing out her days in a ...more
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Is there a joy except gardening that asks so much, and gives so much? I know of no other except, perhaps, the writing of a poem. They are much alike, even in the amount of waste that has to be accepted for the sake of the rare, chancy joy when all goes well. And they are alike in that both are passions that bring renewal with them. But there is a difference: poetry is for all ages; gardening is one of the late joys, for youth is too impatient, too self-absorbed, and usually not rooted deeply en
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars

"Silence was the food I was after, silence and the country itself - trees, meadows, hills, the open sky. I had wanted air, light and space, and now I saw that they were exactly what the house had to give. The light here is magic."

Plant Dreaming Deep is May Sarton's wonderful memoir of how she bought her first house in New England in the 1950s and the first 10 or so years she spent there.
Included are Sarton's thoughts about the rich history of the house, how she made it her own, the
AJ Nolan
I have yet to read one of May Sarton's books of poetry or fiction, something that I dearly need to remedy, but her non-fiction pierces straight through to the heart of the matter. Even though on the surface she is writing about her first ten years living in Nelson, New Hampshire, it is really about poetry and life. ...more
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved the poetic rhythm of this memoir. I really enjoyed this memoir for Mary's insights; European roots collide with the American Dream. We should all spend time thinking about our roots and how it impacts our present day lives. ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So perfect for me right now, especially that last chapter...
Jul 07, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm not a fan of the trope wherein the writer describes fixing up a derelict dwelling in San Miguel Allende, the south of France, or (in this case) rural New Hampshire, which through his/her vision (and hours of work on the part of colorful local laborers) becomes an enviable and enchanting abode. However, May Sarton's book is smarter and better-structured than most of this genre. She was considered an old-fashioned writer some 60 years ago when she wrote this, and her style feels sweet or overw ...more
Sherry (sethurner)
I read this because one of my former university professors, Margot Peters wrote a biography of the writer/poet. After hearing Peters speak, I decided I wanted to learn more about May Sarton. Sarton's autobiograpical book describes renovating and moving into a house where she can write and feel at peace. It's not a slender volume, but I really enjoyed her ruminations about her home and environment. ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
May Sarton writes of art, community, humanity, work, and nature, but more than anything else, she speaks to the role that place plays in all of our lives, and the way that making one's own place in the world is a beautiful struggle. Her account of finding a home in rural New Hampshire made me homesick for my own childhood on a farm in Maine. There's an honesty in her view of the world and its flawed people that I love. This was just the right book to read today. ...more
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed rereading this book. It had such an influence on me when I first read it, and I enjoyed it very much this time again!
Oct 22, 2018 rated it liked it
When I got very near the end of this book, I discovered sentences underlined and a few words scribbled on a page. Did I do that? Has this book been on my shelf all these years as something I meant to re-read? If so, I’ve now done it.

Sarton's is a life that looks delightful from the outside but much harder if one is living it. Partly the life of a writer: lots of solitude, rejection and poverty. Sarton liked the first but not the other two. Her complaints were sometimes annoying as a result of th
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's taken me far too long to read this book but I savored it. I've finally found someone who can write about their love of the way light falls inside a house (and outside for that matter) and I will now be digging into more of Sarton's work. ...more
Nicola Pierce
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, I read this as slowly as I could. In fact, I took breaks to paint the furniture around me. This book inspired a big nesting mood for me during what I consider to be the worse Irish summer ever. I just love stuff like this. Sarton has been a complete revelation for me. Four months earlier, I had never heard of her and am so grateful to the diaries anthology, 'The Assassin's Cloak', for bringing her to my attention. Basically, this is one of a series of memoirs about the poet's life. To be hon ...more
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
"I woke to sunlight, the washed crystal air after storm, the maples all lit up, translucent, a brilliant world of blue and gold, almost incredible after the darkness of the day before. I was learning right away the immense pleasure it is to have no idea what one will see on waking..." (p53).

I enjoyed all of this short personal memoir by novelist/poet May Sarton, who documents with grace her first solo year in a run-down country home on 30 acres that she restored in Nelson, New Hampshire. Contemp
Sarah Lada
Upon finishing this book, I am grateful that my boyfriend finally found the memoir section in the bookstore. I am thankful for the stool that happened to be--right there--so I could see the spines of the books I otherwise couldn't reach. I am also thankful that I "saw something" in a slim, cloth-bound, modest book with just the title and author jet black inked on its spine. A very unassuming book, indeed. But I bought it anyway, for three bucks.

I am grateful because I love this book. In the pres
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book purely by chance, because I loved the title. The way I see it, there's two ways of looking at this book.

Way #1: middle aged white lady buys a house and talks about it a lot, sprinkling excerpts from famous poems as she goes.

Way #2: this is a beautiful, poetic explanation of how someone falls in love with a house, against all odds. She buys the house, moves into it, and gets to know it. This book is like the movie version of Under the Tuscan Sun, full of joy in a time when l
Mary Karpel-Jergic
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, aging
A beautifully written book, hugely evocative. This is May Sarton's account of her arrival and subsequent adventure in a new home in rural Nelson in New Hampshire. It's a must read for any woman contemplating living alone or thinking about the need for solitude. It's also a must read for anyone contemplating ageing.

Although from an era and a class beyond my understanding, her feelings offer a universal approach to some of the trials and tribulations of life. She writes comprehensively about the
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Oh gosh, I loved this book. It isn't one of her journals but it reads like one and takes you through her first years in her first house, from her first viewing of the house through its renovation, her first visitors, her discoveries with each changing season. May Sarton is who I turn to for affirmation that it's okay to care about friendships and soul-expanding experiences more than anything else--or at least, never to question the centrality of those things and to struggle, if need be, to make ...more
Claudia Mundell
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I first read this book over thirty years ago when I found it by accident. It started my reading all of Sarton's work I could get, but it is her journals that are my favorite. Plant Dreaming Deep tells of the poet's move to a New England village and her life there among books, people, and gardens. I decided to reread it now and found it every bit as good as I did as a younger reader. It is a lovely picture of village life in the 1960's...of a poet's life it is a history now as well as a ...more
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Sometimes rereading a book treasured in adolescence is a disappointment--but this account of how the poet/novelist/diarist found and made her home in the small New Hampshire town of Nelson has gained resonance for me with the family losses that recent years have brought. This journal is a moving account of the challenges, practical and spirtual, of her uprooting and resettling and even I, a determined non-gardener, enjoyed the ongoing story of how she made her garden.
Constance Kwinn
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
An introverted, middle-aged novelist/poet purchases a run-down country home to connect with herself and her art, create a nest for the precious objects she's collected and inherited, and pursue a quiet life in communion with Nature. It's a sweet, thoughtful memoir of personal influences and what makes a home.

If you think you might find this precious, you probably will. I found it precious in the good way.
Debbie Spendley
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite writers!

May Sarton was introduced to me by a wise and wonderful friend. I have read many of her novels and always feel that I am "LIVING" her moments of life at the time of the writings. I am always made calm and serene by her words and her simple yet wondrous examples of life living each day to its fullest. She is an American icon of memoir and poetry writing.
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Carolyn Heilbrun--see Writing A Woman's Life--says May Sarton wrote this autobiog about buying a house and living alone and then wrote another later (Journal of a Solitude) about the same time, only including all the difficult feelings and dark parts of the experience and herself, that she left out of the first book. ...more
Hilary Bunlert
Oct 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-adore
I adore this book. Even as a 20-something woman, I felt such a kinship with the elder May Sarton as I read it. And I felt like her journey to put down roots and to express herself into a place via the creation of her home was very moving and impressed me deeply. Ever since, I have longed to own a home to wrap myself into as well.
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
There is something about books that are about houses and gardens that captures my soul. This is my favorite May Sarton, because the story of the creation of this home space is so..bright, so luscious. A book in which the floor boards seem to have a particular character. And the gardens, the interior and the exterior. And the heart. The passion of the ordinary. Love it.
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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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