Book Review: Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

Hannah CoulterHannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A few years ago, gave away Hannah Coulter for free; they still do a free giveaway each month.

Last spring I decided to listen while I walked the dog. I was really enjoying it, but there was so much that I felt like could go into my commonplace and listening was inferior to reading so I set it aside.

This winter I decided that it was worth finishing even if I couldn’t take notes and picked it back up again in Part 2 and today I finished the book. I was crying while driving down I-71. So much of this story touched my heart. Hannah and Nathaniel reminded me of my grandparents; her children my parents; her grandchildren were of my generation. Their choices and her perspective of them were touching; I will admit that I wished to hear from her children’s perspective of their choices because I suspect they had their reasons for leaving the place.

There is something to be said for place and the lifestyle of the Coulters, but I found myself thankful that it wasn’t the life that my parents’ generation had for me. I’m no agrarian, but I am thankful for those who are and I think there can be a middle ground as well. Through Hannah, Berry laments a lost society that was a beautiful thing, but as I sit with a group of friends working on various projects in the same room I see a Membership that is built differently, but just as real-ly.

I appreciate how it taught me to let my children be themselves. I’m not sure that’s the message I was supposed to get, and Hannah was certainly rueful of some choices her children made, but hope, expectation, and loving children are lessons I can learn from Hannah.

It is a beautiful book. Hannah will stay with me as the living beings she held in her memory and heart. The book will make you think, for sure, but it will also help you love.

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