October 23, 2012

A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson

This book is subtitled "Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman," a record of a year in which the author separated from her husband and lived in their cottage on Cape Cod.

While it's not an outstanding book, it was close enough to home for me to find it really interesting. Anderson writes honestly about the issues that matter to a lot of women: what she wants from her husband, how to make ends meet, how to get her weight down, how to relate well to her adult children. She also wrestles with deeper issues, like who she is and what she wants out of life.

There's a great underlying sadness, but also beautiful passages describing swimming, sunsets, times at the seashore, and time alone. Anderson writes unromanticized descriptions of the nearby fishing village, and the jobs she takes there, at the fish market, clamming, especially when her hot water heater breaks and she doesn't have the 20% down that her plumber needs to do the installation.

She doesn't pull any punches regarding her relationship with her husband. The foreword says he read all the chapters as they were written and offered advice, and if so, he's a brave man.

The book got me reflecting about the importance of taking time to think, to be separate, regroup. Some good friends (and sisters) have been talking to me about finding my own truth, and this is really what the author's retreat year was about. I haven't figured out how I might do this, but maybe I've made a few small steps. The book shows me that although it might be lonely and inconvenient, it could also be immensely rewarding to offer yourself this gift of time to ponder life, rediscover who you are and just rest.

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