Noel's Reviews > Hannah Coulter

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
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's review
Apr 10, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: lit-and-fiction
Read from February 04 to 09, 2010

Reading this book was like sitting on the porch with my favorite elderly aunt, and asking her to tell me her life story. There were no dramas, no excitement to speak of - just Hannah Coulter's life, "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.... This is my story, my giving of thanks." Born in Kentucky in 1922, Hannah leaves her home and her beloved grandmam to work as a secretary in a nearby town. She meet marries Virgil at the height of WWII and soon loses him to the war. Some time later, she marries Nathan Coulter, a hard working WWII vet and farmer who shelters her and loves her in a quiet way. She tells of her 3 children who grow up and leave home, of the heartbreaks and proud moments, of growing up and growing apart; of becoming empty nesters and enjoying their time together. Of old age.

I don't think I would recommend this for the under 40 crowd. It moves very slowly and the themes would be hard to recognize unless you've lost a kid or two to college or a big job in the city. But for the older crowd, Berry is lyrical and thought provoking and puts on paper what has been rattling around in your head for ages, only hard to express.
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