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Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Seaby Catherin Goldhammer
Synopses & Reviews
For the millions who loved A Year by the Sea comes a memoir of a woman who awakens at midlife to find wisdom in a most unlikely place
In this lovely, unconventional, often funny memoir, we meet Catherine Goldhammer, newly separated and several tax brackets poorer, forced by circumstance to move from the affluent New England suburb of her daughter's childhood into a new, more rustic life by the sea. Against all logic, partly to please her daughter and partly for reasons not clear to her at the time, she begins this year of transition by purchasing six baby chickens-whose job, she comes to suspect, is to pull her and her daughter forward, out of one life and into another.
As she gradually transforms her new house, nine hundred feet from the sea-with its tawdry exterior but radiant soul-tile by tile, flower bed by flower bed, as she watches her precocious twelve-year-old daughter blossom into a stylish and sophisticated teenager, and as she tends to the needs of six enigmatic chickens, Catherine's life starts to slowly shift from chaos to grace. Beautifully written and ultimately inspiring, Still Life with Chickens is an unforgettable lesson in hope, in starting over, and in the transcendent wisdom that can often be found in the most unlikely of places.
"From her book's opening lines, Goldhammer admits to the many insecurities she faced during her year of transition — during which she gets a divorce, slides 'about three tax brackets poorer,' relocates to a tattered New England cottage and singlehandedly raises her 12-year-old daughter, as well as half a dozen chicks — while cheekily setting herself apart from her competition in the memoir genre: 'I did not have a year in Provence or a villa under the Tuscan sun. I did not have a farm in Africa.' Goldhammer, a published poet, has an eye for life's mundane details, and these minutiae can grow tiresome ('We went through two mops, several sponges.... We broke one mop right in half'). But her recounting of her frustrations and her joys while remodeling the house and rearing the chickens is not only amusing but sometimes reads like a self-help manual, in which readers conclude that rolling up one's sleeves, getting busy and staying occupied with any strange new interest can successfully distract one from life's larger trials. As Goldhammer notes, 'I had thought I was renovating a house. I didn't know that in the process I would also rebuild my life.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this lovely, unconventional, often funny memoir, the newly separated and several tax brackets poorer author moves into a new, more rustic life by the sea. She begins this year of transition by purchasing six baby chickens. As she gradually transforms her surroundings and sees her daughter transforming, Goldhammer's life starts to slowly shift from chaos to grace.
In this beautifully written and frequently funny memoir, Catherine Goldhammer, newly separated, along with her twelve-year-old daughter, starts life anew in a cottage by the sea, in a rustic town where live bait is sold from vending machines. Partly to please her daughter and partly for reasons not clear to her at the time, she begins this year of transition by purchasing six baby chickens?whose job, she comes to suspect, is to pull her and her daughter forward out of one life and into another. An unforgettable story filled with hope and grace, Still Life with Chickens shows how transcendent wisdom can be found in the most unlikely of places.
About the Author
Catherine Goldhammer is a graduate of Goddard College and was a poetry fellow in the fine arts program at the University of Massachusetts. She has been published in the Georgia Review and the Ohio Review.
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