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Hannah Coulter
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Group Reads: Moderator's Choice > Initial Impressions: Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry - August 2020

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message 1: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2665 comments Mod
Comments on this board should be written with the assumption that not all readers have finished the book. Please avoid revealing any spoilers.


message 2: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1245 comments Mod
To anyone who has not read this book, don't miss it. I would read again with the group, but not enough hours in the days right now. I'll still be checking in to see how much you guys love it.


Lori Keeton | 443 comments Sara, I hope you do join the discussion! You always provide so much insight! I’ve had this on my shelf for months. I couldn’t wait to return to Port William after I finished Jayber Crow last March. I’m ready!


message 4: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4168 comments Mod
I'll be starting in a day or two. It will be the second time I've read it. The first was many years ago. It was my first Wendell Berry book, and I never looked back.


Connie G (connie_g) | 461 comments I just finished the book, and loved it. I cared about the characters, especially Hannah. It has a serene quality that is perfect for us to read during these tense, crazy times.


message 6: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1245 comments Mod
Lori wrote: "Sara, I hope you do join the discussion! You always provide so much insight! I’ve had this on my shelf for months. I couldn’t wait to return to Port William after I finished Jayber Crow last March...."

Thank you, Lori. Jayber Crow is still my favorite and I think that might be because he was my first. But, this is so, so lovely!


Cathrine ☯️  | 660 comments I'm in an extended reading period with A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership so not sure I will get to this in August, but I'll try.


Shirley J (fastreader) | 2 comments My introduction to Wendell Berry's writing was reading Hannah Coulter in 2013. I enjoyed his writing and his gift for storytelling and added several other books to MY TBR shelf.

This is the first opportunity I've had to join the monthly discussion with this group and I hope to enjoy many more.


message 9: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4168 comments Mod
It has occurred to me as I'm reading these first few chapters that my generation is probably the last one that will remember grandmothers like Hannah's. Wearing long dresses and aprons, with their hair done up in a bun. I can see my grandmother so clearly the same way.


message 10: by Sara, "Ivy Rowe" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 1245 comments Mod
Perfect description of my grandmothers as well, Diane. One was very tall and thin, the other was short and chubby, but they wore those same kinds of dresses (homemade), aprons (they were always cooking) and the twisted bun at the base of their necks.


message 11: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4168 comments Mod
I'm finding it hard to get past any chapter without tears. What is it about reading of good, kind people, and this community in particular, that is so poignant? Maybe it's the time we are living in at this moment.
Another point: Do you think Hannah is telling her story to Andy Catlett? Several times she speaks his name in asking a question, as though he were listening to her.


message 12: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 2147 comments Mod
Ummmm, don’t count the audio out on this one!!! The first chapter has me floored. Are there any words to express this first chapter? Wendell Berry has found the voice of Hannah. If the rest of the book is this emotional but soothing, give me more.


message 13: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 2147 comments Mod
Diane I just read your last comment and I was too embarrassed to admit I was dealing with watery eyes. How she kept saying this is my story felt so kind but powerful. She is a woman who has a voice and a story to share. I’m only through chapter 1.


message 14: by Lori (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lori Keeton | 443 comments I love the looking back and retelling style. If only my memory is as good as Hannah’s to remember the details of my life some day. Hannah’s voice is definitely soothing and Grandmam is who I want to be when I have grandchildren! Love her!!!


Candi (candih) | 208 comments I will definitely be reading this one! I'll echo everyone else here with my love for Wendell Berry. I may read it the second half of the month during my vacation. Will bring me some additional comfort :)


message 16: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4168 comments Mod
Vacation! How did you pull that off, Candi?


message 17: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4168 comments Mod
Laura, who does the narration? Is it Berry?


Candi (candih) | 208 comments Diane wrote: "Vacation! How did you pull that off, Candi?"

Well, to be honest, it's a trip right here in NY, only a couple hours away! It's over in the Adirondack Mountains, at a house we rented through AirBnB last year. We won't do much, but I wanted to get away from my house and my town! Just enjoy the outdoors for a few days :) Plenty of reading planned!


message 19: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 2147 comments Mod
No it’s a woman. And she’s great. I looked to see if I had heard her read before but nothing looks familiar.


message 20: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 2147 comments Mod
Diane
The last person I remember with a bun and long dress was my great aunt. She was oldest of 12 siblings. Interesting fact, she met her husband through a message in a bottle found on a river bank. I’ll try to find the article. The girls born later down the line wore pants, no dresses.


message 21: by Judi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judi | 454 comments This book resonates with me and my family ties in so many ways!! My Mom and her nine siblings were raised on a modest rural farm in Wisconsin. On a dirt road. No electricity. No running water. Two plow horses. No tractor. My Mom attended a one room school house. Her older siblings dropped out in the fifth grade to help work the farm. Hannah would be my Mom's age. I was born in 1949 . . . .similar age to Hannah's children. However, my Mom left Wisconsin for Pasadena CA after graduating high school and never moved back. The remaining family members never left. We would visit the family on occasion so I did get to see the farm and hear the stories.


message 22: by Judi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judi | 454 comments Laura wrote: "No it’s a woman. And she’s great. I looked to see if I had heard her read before but nothing looks familiar."

I am listening to the audible version as well. The reader has a soothing voice. Captures my vision of Hannah.


message 23: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 2147 comments Mod
Diane
Hannah talks about getting the story right and she imagines telling it to Andy because he has been listening to her all his life. I think she’s telling her stories out loud at night so she remembers them. She mentions being in her chair late at night and the voices don’t bother the silence.


message 24: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4168 comments Mod
I think so too, Laura. That's why I think Andy is based on Berry himself. He listened to all of them, then wrote it down.


message 25: by Lori (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lori Keeton | 443 comments Oh my, just finished and loved this sooooo much!

Laura and Diane, I agree, Hannah is telling her story aloud. Very cool thought that Andy Catlett is Berry and writes the stories told down! Mind blown on that one!!!


I grew up near Ashland, KY which is situated on the Ohio River and a two hour drive to Lexington and 3 to Louisville. (Catlettsburg is a few minutes away and named after a true Catlett family in the early 1800’s. I wondered about the name and if there was any significance to Berry, but there’s not. Just a familiar KY name, I suppose.)

This is my second “visit” to Port William, Jayber Crow being my first, and both times I feel like I’m home again. Like Hannah’s children, I went off to college, married my high school sweetheart and never returned “home”. Reading Hannah’s story makes me think of how my own mother must have felt when I left.


message 26: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4168 comments Mod
Port William is a wonderful place to "come home" to, Lori. They are all good, and the more you know about these people, the more you love them.


message 27: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2665 comments Mod
The reader is Susan Denaker, I'm not familiar with her work but she is one of the narrators of Collected Stories of William Faulkner, which I am very tempted to check out. I really enjoy audiobooks that are told in the first person. This works really well in this case as Appalachia has such a rich story-telling tradition that it's easy to believe that you are setting on a rocking chair listening to her tell stories of her life.


message 28: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Mathews | 2665 comments Mod
Percy’s Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition is on sale today from Amazon for $1.99. Here's the link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DRYTRA4?...


message 29: by Tina (last edited Aug 17, 2020 09:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tina  | 488 comments Sara wrote: "Lori wrote: "Sara, I hope you do join the discussion! You always provide so much insight! I’ve had this on my shelf for months. I couldn’t wait to return to Port William after I finished Jayber Cro..."

Jayber Crow is hard to beat.


Tina  | 488 comments Diane wrote: "Port William is a wonderful place to "come home" to, Lori. They are all good, and the more you know about these people, the more you love them."

I love being back in Port William and the way Hannah’s story is unfolding.


message 31: by Lori (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lori Keeton | 443 comments Tina, I have a confession to make. I have fallen so in love with Port William that I’ve already added Andy Catlett and Old Jack to my collection. Amazon is a dangerous place right now!


message 32: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 2147 comments Mod
Lori, do you have access to hoopla? Great selection of berry.


message 33: by Lori (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lori Keeton | 443 comments Hi Laura! Yes, I do have hoopla. Good to know for when I need a quick Berry fix! I do have a sickness for wanting my own copy🤪


message 34: by Laura, "The Tall Woman" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 2147 comments Mod
I totally get that too.


message 35: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 4168 comments Mod
I use Hoopla a lot to check into books that are "maybes". Just reading a bit of a book can help me make a decision.


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