Hannah Coulter

Hannah Coulter

by Wendell Berry

Judy Stanton: I did research on Wendell Berry's Hannah Coulter for my neighborhood book club. If you re a book club member, you know that sometimes what you learn about the author and the writing of the book can really enhance your enjoyment and understanding of the work. I was moved by the story and by the author's perspective.

The book is Hannah's memoir, a reflection looking back on her life. As an empty nester, what saddened me most was her reverie on how the education she and her husband made possible for their children led each to move to a very different kind of life that starkly separated them. The small town farm life, where the membership/neighbors supported each other stood in sharp contrast to the lack of a relationship with her jet-setting son, his wife, and children who never got to know their grandparents. Like Hannah Coulter, Wendell Berry lives a relatively simple but fulfilling life. Through her story he shows how sad the loss of a sense of place and family can be in the pursuit of a better life, buoyed by consumerism. A farmer himself, Berry does more than write novels about his community; he advocates for support of small farmers by their communities.
Rating: ****

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