As I read, I kept thinking “the folks would love this”, [fill in thirty names] will want to read this. This is a perfect book to read aloud to Curt and Collin during our long Sunday drives to church. At 186 pages it is a small enough book to give to readers who would be intimidated by an epic tome.
Hannah Coulter is the quiet telling of a woman’s tale, a tale of sorrow, goodness, love, hurt, work, holding and letting go. It is Ecclesiastes 3 manifested in one woman from Kentucky. “This is my story, my giving of thanks.” Wendell Berry gives her a voice which is modulated in a pleasing tone. She speaks of her pains and her joys with honesty, clarity, and wisdom.
Here is a necklace of sentences from the book.
“It [Hannah’s beauty] could get you an early start on a miserable life.”
When he came to work in the morning, Wheeler was like a drawn bow–lean and tense and entirely aimed at whatever he had to do.
Books were a dependable pleasure.
The days were separate and suspended, like plants in hanging pots.
Happiness had a way of coming to you and making you sad.
We had made it past hard changes, and all of us were changed, but we were together.
What could be more heavenly than to have desire and satisfaction in the same room?
“Hannah, my old girl, we’re going to live right on.”
“Margaret, my good Margaret, we’re going to live right on.”
He said it only when he knew that living right on was going to be hard.
The world is so full and abundant it is like a pregnant woman carrying a child in one arm and leading another by the hand.
We sat down to it [Thanksgiving dinner], the four of us, like stray pieces of several puzzles.
There we were at a great crisis in our lives, and it had to be, it could only be, dealt with as an ordinary thing.
After she left, the house slowly filled up with silence.