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Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding [Kindle Edition]

Lynn Darling
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Review

“A thought-provoking, poignant and often refreshingly funny book….It is a pleasure to spend time with Darling’s fine writing, thoughtful reflection and perhaps a more trustworthy sense of direction than she is willing to claim.” (Reeve Lindbergh, Washington Post)

“There have been many accounts of conquering nature and disease. But Darling melds her extreme adventures in the woods and in the doctor’s treatment room with brilliance and poetry….Wonderful.” (Judy Bolton-Fasman, Boston Globe)

“Darling is a dazzling writer, able to capture the image of ‘an apple blushing on the scraggly tree’ or the lingering grief of her husband’s death with a beautiful, sometimes tender, immediacy….The heft of this story is in her intelligent questioning of her past and future….Fascinating.” (Leigh Newman, New York Times Book Review)

“Like Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but by a writer who has had a lot more tread scorched off her tires than the young and idealistic Dillard; both a compass and a manifesto for navigating the often-treacherous switchbacks of the second half of life. A marvelous book.” (Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March and Caleb's Crossing)

“What do we do when life unfolds in unexpected ways--which is to say, when life unfolds, full stop? We cave, or we persevere. We grow rigid and numb, or, like the inimitable Lynn Darling, we come to know ourselves, with courage and a beautiful, stumbling grace.” (Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion)

“Lynn Darling is a compelling character, smart and irreverent and earnest in her effort to find her way into the future. In beautiful and surprising prose, Darling invites us to wander with her as she circles and roams and ultimately claims her own destiny.” (Meredith Hall, author of Without a Map: A Memoir)

“Striking in its intelligence and imagery…Darling’s personal version of Dante’s dark night of the soul will resonate with many empty nesters, especially women….A compelling story of internal exploration, as well as outward-bound adventure that owes something to Henry David Thoreau and Virginia Woolf.” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air)

“A graceful, intensely personal coming-of-middle-age story….Like the megaselling memoirs by Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert, it lays out a concrete, mappable-albeit open-ended-plan for self-betterment through travel and discovery.” (Elle)

“Darling has written a fierce and forthright chronicle of one formidable woman’s courageous journey of healing and revelation, gratitude and resilience.” (Booklist)

“This wry, intimate, deeply courageous memoir will speak to any woman who has rounded the corner into the afternoon of life, only to find herself pausing to wonder, Which way now? Lynn Darling was lucky enough to get utterly lost, and then brave enough to chart her own course home.” (Katrina Kenison, author of Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment)

“Lynn Darling is everything I love in a writer: smart, honest, gimlet-eyed. Every sentence worth its weight. You’ll find no easy answers in this memoir of finding one’s way out of grief and loss and illness; instead, a trustworthy guide, a true compass.” (Nora Gallagher, author of Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic)

“Darling’s memoir navigates the geography of loss with a fresh, lush beauty….This is really a book about solitude, with Darling’s ironic wit (often directed at herself) cutting a sharp path through the wandering richness of melancholy.” (More Magazine)

“Fans of Wild and Eat, Pray, Love will relish seeing Darling find her footing.” (Fitness Magazine)

Product Description

Combining the soul-baring insight of Wild, the profound wisdom of Shop Class as Soulcraft, and the adventurous spirit of Eat, Pray, Love: Lynn Darling’s powerful, lyrical memoir of self-discovery, full of warmth and wry humor, Out of the Woods.

When her college-bound daughter leaves home, Lynn Darling, widowed over a decade earlier, finds herself alone—and utterly lost, with no idea of what she wants or even who she is. Searching for answers, she leaves New York for the solitary woods of Vermont. Removed from the familiar, cocooned in the natural world, her only companions a new dog and a compass, she hopes to develop a sense of direction—both in the woods and in her life.

Hiking unmapped trails, Darling meditates on the milestones of her past; as she adapts to her new surroundings, she uses the knowledge she’s gained to chart her future. And when an unexpected setback nearly derails her newfound balance, she is able to draw upon her newfound skills to find her bearings and stay the course.

In revealing how one woman learned to navigate—literally and metaphorically—the uneven course of life, Out of the Woods is, in the words of Pulitzer-prize winning author Geraldine Brooks,  “a marvelous book . . . both a compass and a manifesto for navigating the often-treacherous switchbacks of the second half of life.” 


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 721 KB
  • Print Length: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (7 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DB32R0E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #130,957 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating and insightful read 10 Jan. 2014
By Niki Collins-queen, Author TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
"Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding " is a fascinating account of Lynn Darling's courageous move from New York City to an "off grid" two-story house in the woods of Central Vermont. Lynn now in her mid 50s was 44 when her husband died and her daughter, Zoe was six.
Lynn decided to make a new life when her daughter entered college. The challenges included living alone at the end of a deeply rutted, roller coaster dirt road, getting her light and heat from outdated solar panels, a wood burning stove and a "doubtful" generator, trying to befriend Henry her new puppy and getting lost on many of the unmapped trails.
Lynn's decision is remarkable as she admits to losing her way easily on city streets, county roads and in the woods. However, she says she does not mind much as it often leads to unexpected adventures.
Lynn's memoir also tells the powerful story of year-long battle and recovery from breast cancer and a heart-breaking account of moving her mother, who is suffering from debilitating dementia, into an elder-care home.
Lynn said, "Like any of life's storms, cancer blows a hole through your life." However, she believes it helped her eliminate grief and self doubt and made her realize she, "simply wanted to continue to be."
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  110 reviews
37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of one woman's 3-year venture into midlife way-finding 11 Dec. 2013
By Sharon Isch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
At 56, journalist Lynn Darling found herself alone for the first time. Her husband had died of cancer 12 years earlier and now her only child was heading for college. Feeling the need to create a new life for herself, she sublet her New York apartment and off she went to Woodstock, Vermont, where she'd often vacationed, to find a house to buy and live in year round. Turns out the only one she could afford was an oddly constructed and not quite finished little house, off the beaten track, down an unmarked dirt road and surrounded by woods--an abode she'd later come to call "Castle Dismal."

Before long, she'd come to realize that her lifelong lack of any sense of direction could become quite an impediment when living alone in the woods. Eventually she'd get some help learning the right way to use maps and compasses and other tricks and techniques for finding your way, which she kindly shares with the rest of us. Along the way to finding that way she'd make some friends, have a go at online dating, get herself a dog, learn the difference between a weed and wisteria and be diagnosed with breast cancer--an ordeal she'll invite readers along on, but one with a happy ending. This chronicle of three years in the life of a highly talented and forthright writer makes a good read indeed. And I highly recommend it.
33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patrician lady copes with getting lost, cancer and elder care 5 Jan. 2014
By Quickbeam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I in no way mean to be cruel but I am Darling's age and lived most of my life on the east coast. I know how much things cost including private school, expensive college, trips abroad and an apartment in New York. In this memoir, Darling copes with empty nest status by buying a home in Vermont (while keeping the NYC loft). I think the book is overly coy about the author's financial situation. The math does not add up. Self deprecating, the author writes of her ineptitude with direction and home maintenance. I think she is aiming for an Erma Bombeck style of "woe is me" humor but it doesn't quite work for me.

Darling peppers her memoir with historical asides and new age-y quotes.That gets old quickly. Darling does write well and has an engaging style. I became impatient with the frequent sojourns in to history. I admire Darling's success in taming her demons. She does ***spoiler alert*** end up back in New York City, making the Vermont content feel like a prolonged rustic vacation.

Anyone looking for a true rustic living experience would be better served by Anne LaBastille's "Woodswoman" which provides a far more competent and genuine feel for wilderness life. This book might well appeal to those unbalanced by loss and looking to find a kindred spirit for those first baby steps of independence. I do like Darling's prose style and would enjoy more of her work that was less autobiographical.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Day Walden Pond tale 30 Dec. 2013
By G. Uhl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Take Henry David Thoreau, time travel him to 2013, change his gender and "Bingo", you've got 'Out of the Woods'.

When I first read Thoreau I was in my very early twenties. I remember thinking what a load of crap. He claims to have gone into the woods to live deliberately and suck the marrow out of life when all I could see was that he free loaded off Emerson and was an artsy bum. Even 'On The Duty of Civil Disobedience', I loved the words but I always thought this man did not really suffer for the cause at all.

Anyways, now I'm approaching 50 and I see it all so differently. I love Thoreau and the Idea of going to the woods to find yourself and figure out what it all means. I love books about survival in the wilderness and especially women making their way in a rough setting.

Darling is at that stage where her role as mother and daughter are both changing. You have sometimes this brief period of time where you have a break between caregiver of your children and care giver of your adult parents. And in this case the author is faced with a life crises during this time and is forced to care for herself.

I love the way the book is sprinkled with passages about wilderness training and passages about folks who have gotten lost and about tricks to navigate terrain/life. I think it's a clever memoir, nicely balanced.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable memoir on finding a renewed purpose in life at middle-age 27 Nov. 2013
By Paul Allaer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Out Of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding" (262 pages) is the latest from long-time writer (and erstwhile Washington Post journalist) Lynn Darling. As the book opens, we learn that Darling's world is about to be shaken up when her only child, a daughter called Zoe, is about to depart for college. This is a rather traumatic event in Darling's life, as it will make her an empty-nester (we learn that her husband passed away when Zoe was only 6 years old). Observes Darling: "My daughter's departure left questions, big questions, that her presence and the warm hive of family life had made it easy to ignore, of who to be and how to live, of what, if anything, I wanted". Darling decides to move away from her Manhattan condo full-time into a cottage she had bought some years ago in a very remote part of Vermont, indeed "off the grid", even if Darling herself is by no means experienced for that kind of life. "One of my projects in coming to Vermont had been to learn how to grow old, not just gracefully, but also with style and panache".

The book finds a clever balance between on the one hand finding (or at least attempting to find) a new direction in her life, away from Zoe and away from the city life, while on the other hand trying to become familiar with the remote part of Vermont so as not to get lost (as in: literally getting lost) so often. In that sense, this book is truly about "finding your way". I found myself enjoying this memoir the most when Darling examines her life and how she tries finding a renewed purpose, in particularly when she is diagnosed with a lump in her breast, as opposed to Darling mastering the skills of survival in life "off the grid" and topographic map reading (which takes up quite a few pages). But in the end it is a minor quibble. Will Darling find inner peace in Vermont? What about her love life? You'll just have to read for yourself how it all plays out.

As someone who loves reading memoirs of all sorts, I thoroughly enjoyed this particular one. If you are in the mood for a good read on how someone maps out a new direction in one's middle-aged life, you cannot go wrong with this. "Out Of the Woods" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindred spirit 26 Nov. 2013
By Angela Risner The Sassy Orange - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lynn Darling lost her husband years ago. Since then she has focused on raising their daughter, Zoe, by herself. Zoe is now 18 and ready to start her adult life at college.

Darling has been anticipating this moment. In fact, she's purchased a home in Vermont and has been spending the summers there while Zoe went to camp. Now it's time to make the move there more permanent. However, the solitude she seeks turns out to be less creative inspiration for her writing and more reflective of choices made.

I enjoyed the book for the most part. First of all, she moves to just outside of Woodstock, VT, a town I have visited and loved. Second of all, I love the idea of buying a house in the woods, out of the way.

But more than that, I felt a kinship with Darling. Because of the difference in age between my husband and me, I know that I will be a younger widow as well. I have never been the saver of money for future things - I see what I want now and I buy it. I was much more comfortable taking responsibility for others than for myself.

Some favorite moments:

•One life was over and another was beginning and I was no longer any of the things I had been, no longer young and not yet old, and because I had to figure out everything all over again, everything - from where to live, to how to dress, and who (or even whether) to love, because I had no idea of what to do next, and the middle of the woods seemed the best place to get one.
•We name things so we can know them, and knowing them, won't be afraid of them. Maybe we should be afraid.
•Middle age resonates with so much loss, profound and superficial: expectations die, friendships fade, hairlines recede, looks change, and health and hope are no longer givens. It becomes easy to forget the fullness that has come before...I might have no idea of what would happen next, but it seemed ungrateful to complain when there had been so much that was good in the past, whether or not I had the wit to recognize it.
•I had never been the sort of person who made five-year-plans, or saved for a mortgage, or even kept a date book. I admired people like that, I envied them, but I had never wanted to be like them. I had led a life in which I had made few thoughtful decisions, and yes, it had cost me dearly in many ways, but it had also brought me great happiness, and in the end it was simply who I was.
•...I wondered if it was possible to truly forgive yourself for your sins, real or imagined, whether I would ever escape the regret in which I steeped my version of the past.
•I could take responsibility for others - my daughter, my husband, my friends. But to take responsibility for myself was alarming, in a way I hadn't understood until cancer forced a reckoning.

I think that this book will appeal to you if you're in a certain place in your life. For me, this was the right book at the right time.

Highly recommend.
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