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Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfindingby Lynn Darling
Synopses & Reviews
A powerful, lyrical memoir of self-discovery full of warmth and wry humor — a book that combines the soul-baring insight of Wild, the profound wisdom of Shop Class as Soulcraft, and the ad venturous spirit of Eat, Pray, Love
When her college-bound daughter leaves home, Lynn Darling, widowed more than a decade earlier, finds herself alone and utterly lost. Freed of her parental responsibilities, she has no idea what she wants or even who she is. Searching for answers, she leaves her apartment in New York City and moves to a cranky little house in the middle of the Vermont woods, her only companions, a new dog and a compass. There she hopes to develop a sense of direction — both in the woods and in her life.
As she finds new ways to get lost in her own backyard, Darling meditates on her past and on the challenges that aging poses to love, work — not to mention fashion — and the way she sees herself. She has just begun to chart a new course for the future when an unexpected setback unsettles her newfound balance.
With rare insight and remarkable honesty, Out of the Woods reveals how honing the skills of navigation — literal and metaphorical — smoothed one woman's path through the uneven course of life. It is a story at once universal and deeply personal — in the words of writer Geraldine Brooks, "both a compass and a manifesto for navigating the often-treacherous switchbacks of the second half of life."
"In a radiant, brave memoir, Darling, a journalist and memoirist (Necessary Sins), recalls a difficult time shortly after her daughter goes off to college and Darling moves from New York City to the remote woods of Woodstock, Vt. A widow in her mid-'50s, Darling finds the woods around her small, eclectic house at the end of the road inviting yet frightening, and soon learns how 'directionally challenged' she is — thus vulnerable. Having fled her life in the city out of a sense of failure and shame, she admits that she no longer knows what map of her life . She turns to a point by point 'metaphysical' to-do list, including 'get sense of direction; find authentic way to live; figure out how to be old; deal with sex; learn Latin.' With her companion a yellow Lab puppy she named Henry, and occasionally help from wilderness experts — or a compass and a map — Darling embarks on a clarifying journey of self-navigation. Despite being sidetracked by cancer and a year of grueling treatments, which she endured largely alone, she gradually finds her moorings, emerging from this dark spell with a profound and grateful understanding of what it means to take responsibility for yourself. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“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
“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
“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 ones 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
“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
“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
“Darling has written a fierce and forthright chronicle of one formidable woman's courageous journey of healing and revelation, gratitude and resilience.” Booklist
“Darling's memoir navigates the geography of loss with a fresh, lush beauty….This is really a book about solitude, with Darlings ironic wit (often directed at herself) cutting a sharp path through the wandering richness of melancholy.” More Magazine
“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
Combining the soul-baring insight of Wild, the profound wisdom of Shop Class as Soulcraft, and the adventurous spirit of Eat, Pray, Love: Lynn Darlings 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 shes 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.”
About the Author
Lynn Darling is the author of Necessary Sins. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, and Elle, among others. She lives in New York City.
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