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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming sequel to SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS, 11 Jan 2003
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Place in the Country (Paperback)
In SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS, author Laura Shaine Cunningham movingly remembered her life growing up in the Bronx with her single mother, Rosie, until the latter's untimely death, after which Laura's guardians were her mother's two odd-ball bachelor brothers, Len and Gabe.
A PLACE IN THE COUNTRY is essentially a sequel, wherein Ms. Cunningham describes her life from the mid-1950's to Y2K. Indeed, the first couple of chapters reprise events of her life with Rosie and her uncles - all in the context of explaining her developing love for "the country". This is not unexpected in someone who grew up in small, overcrowded, city apartments. Most of the book revolves around the two rural homes in which the author has spent a good portion of her adult life, the Castle and The Inn, the latter having been her abode away from The City for the last 18 years up to the present.
Laura's life has been, in many ways, perfectly ordinary - probably not so different from the general pattern of yours or mine. Perhaps that's why it's so appealing. (We have here not the memoir of an obnoxious diva, whining and overpaid sports figure, or dysfunctional actor.) The author's great ability in sharing is her gentle, wry sense of humor, whether it's telling us about the trials of converting an old underground cistern into a swimming pool, or starting an ill-conceived cottage industry in potpourri pillows, or battling the local fauna over home-grown tomatoes, or the adoption of her first daughter from Romania, or her second daughter from China, or learning the pitfalls inherent to raising chickens, geese and goats. For instance ...
"I spent most of my time preparing the alleged garden, jumping on the end of a pickaxe, trying to tilt the tip of what might be a glacial formation (of rock) that extends to the core of the earth. When at last there was a thin strip of what we could call soil, we stuck in seeds, which were instantly lost and unidentifiable except to the birds that snacked on them. We graduated immediately to seedlings that cost as much as the finished vegetables. In this way, we worked our way up, with credit cards, to the six-hundred dollar tomato."
Not all of Laura's life in the country has been happy. In the later chapters, when she tells of the eventual dissolution of her 27-year marriage, or the neighbors that move away, or die, or just her slide into middle-age, the tone of A PLACE IN THE COUNTRY becomes occasionally melancholic. ("Time is supposed to march on, but now it hurtles.") But, her narrative never loses the sensitivity and poignancy that conveys to the reader the fact that she is, from all evidence, a truly good human being giving Life her best shot. A person that it would be an honor to hug.
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A Place in the Country
A Place in the Country by Laura Shaine Cunningham (Paperback - Jun 2001)
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