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The Widow Down by the Brook: A Memoir of a Time Gone by
Synopses & Reviews
The last words Wilmot MacNeill ever spoke, right before he died, were to his wife. He urged her to "keep a home of your own. Don't go live with the children. As long as you have your own home you will be independent."
That was almost fifty years ago; today, at ninety-three, Mary MacNeill still has her own home, and has finally decided to share her charming and inspirational memoir of Wilmot's last year, the house in the country he insists they build together before he dies and her surprisingly contemporary journey into an independent life along the way. Mary's long career as a librarian, editor and reader has resulted in a voice that is warm, wise, appealingly straightforward and infused with the same generous sense of humor and composure that has carried her through so many of life's difficult predicaments.
With their two children grown and away from home, Mary and Wilmot MacNeill led a simple life together in a tiny house in the center of Hartford, Connecticut. But When they learn that Wilmot's lingering cancer will soon take his life, everything changes, and so begins the transformation of a dilapidated barn on a scrambled thicket of Connecticut countryside into a beautiful, fruitful home, along with the metamorphosis of a proper librarian and wife into a strong, independent woman who's not only making the tea but also shoveling the manure and facing the elements. The inevitable happens — Wilmot dies — but the woman he leaves behind is forever changed. With the help of many friends and neighbors, Mary finishes the house, lives there for many years and becomes a vital and happy member of the rural community.
Written in 1952 and stowed away with Mary's private possessions for more than forty-five years, this memoir is an illustrious time capsule, complete with more than twenty-five original photos, depicting the simplicity of rural New England life in the 1950s and offering one woman's hands-on experience with the changing gender roles this century has witnessed.
About the Author
Mary MacNeill, the grandniece of Robert Louis Stevenson, worked as a librarian for many years. She has published articles in numerous newspapers and magazines, as well as two books about the real estate business, and was editor and publisher of the award-winning magazine, The Lure of the Litchfield Hills. Now ninety-three, she still lives on her own in San Diego, California.
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