Monday, March 2, 2009

In Conclusion

Obviously, it has not be easy for us to bring the Hannah Coulter book club to an end.

I will start us off, if that is okay.

In Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well-Educated Mind, Susan says that "almost every novel is structured around these basic questions";

What does the central character want?
What is standing in his/her way?
And what strategy does he/she pursue in order to overcome this block?

Is this true of Hannah Coulter? What does Hannah want?


I would also be curious to know what you thought of the last chapter of the book.

Is it a dream, a memory, or is Hannah meeting her beloved in heaven?

Personally, I think Hannah is just drifting off, remembering. Almost a dream before sleep.

What do you think?


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What is the Room of Love?

Part Two, Chapter 14

The room of love is another world. You go there wearing no watch, watching no clock. It is the world without end, so small that two people can hold it in their arms, and yet it is bigger than worlds on worlds, for it contains the longing of all things to be together, and to be at rest together. You come together to the day's end, weary and sore, troubled and afraid. You take it all into your arms, it goes away, and there you are where giving and taking are the same, and you live a little while entirely in a gift. The words have all been said, all permissions given, and you are free in the place that is the two of you together. What could be more heavenly than to have desire and satisfaction in the same room?

Is this an old woman trying to put words to marital intimacy? Is she talking about sex here or her marriage as a whole?

I think we need to figure it out because she goes on and ends the chapter with

If you want to know why even in telling of trouble and sorrow I am giving thanks, this is why.

Hannah and Nathan and their room of love: what is it? Does Hannah's description of it (whatever "it" is) ring true for you? The chapter is full of realistic descriptions of marriage which I so appreciate and can relate to--especially the arguments and how they begin and end. But this description at the end of the chapter feels so abstract to me, I'm wondering if it's just me. I'm not necessarily being critical, I'm just being honest.

I'm curious what you think. I'm looking for some answers.

Pondering...what is the room of love?

:) Lynn

Monday, February 9, 2009


Part Two, Chapter 13.

I don't want you to think, Andy Catlett, that I dwelt on the subject of Ivy. I didn't. I had a plenty else to think about. I was a grown woman...I had a good life, and I knew it. But I was not forgetting Ivy, either. From time to time, too often maybe, I thought of her, and when I thought of her I thought of the broach and earrings that she did not deserve and was unworthy to wear. That thought, when I had it on my mind, was like a grain of corn in my shoe.

Isn't that a wonderful word-picture of bitterness? a grain of corn in my shoe.

That little grain of corn is only bothering Hannah, only serving to remind her how much she resents Ivy. Every step she takes with that little grain of corn in her shoe is a recitation of Ivy's guilt. And while it's painful for Hannah, she's become used to it, it's a familiar feeling. It's the only feeling she knows toward this woman who dealt her so many injustices.

And then one afternoon, when the thought of Ivy was miles away, I met her.
She was wearing a head scarf and a dress that hung on her as it would have hung on a chair. She was shrunken and twisted by arthritis and was leaning on two canes. Her hands were so knotted as hardly to look like hands. She was smiling at me. She said, "You don't know me, do you?"

This is brilliant, isn't it? Up until this point Hannah has not known Ivy. She has only known the effects of Ivy. She has only known the pain and injustice dealt by Ivy. Ivy in her selfish prime, as Hannah had experienced her, masked a person, like herself, in need of grace.

I knew her then, and almost instantly there were tears on my face...All kinds of knowledge came to me, all in a sort of flare in my mind. I knew for one thing that she was more simpleminded than I had ever thought. She had perfectly forgot, or had never known, how much and how justly I had resented her. But I knew at the same instant that my resentment was gone, just gone. And the fear of her that was once so big in me, where was it? And who was this poor sufferer who stood there with me?

"Yes, Ivy, I know you," I said, and I sounded kind.

Excuse me while I wipe my eyes and blow my nose.

Hannah ends the chapter realizing that she has forgiven Ivy.

I didn't understand exactly what had happened until the thought of her woke me up in the middle of that night, and I was saying to myself, "You have forgiven her."

I had. My old hatred and contempt and fear, that I had kept so carefully so long, were gone, and I was free.

In this very short chapter we are served the most delicious and satisfying of meals: a complete picture of forgiveness. With eyes to see Ivy, finally, as a fellow sufferer, Hannah takes the piece of corn out of her shoe. She acknowledges her role of carefully tending her hatred of Ivy all these years. She realizes forgiveness does not have to wait for an apology.


Did you notice Hannah is telling this particular memory to Andy Catlett?

Did you find this, as I did, a compelling picture of forgiveness? Did it hit the mark or miss for you?

I'm wondering if there's more to know about Ivy. Port William experts: does she make an appearance in the other novels?

See you in the comments.
:) Lynn

Friday, February 6, 2009

In Which a Link is Provided and Insight is Given

Sandy is smart.

And she's read a lot more Wendell Berry than I have. She's written a few posts about Hannah at her blog site Maple Grove. I find her perspective very helpful as I try to orient myself with Wendell and his ideas and I didn't want any of you to miss her insight.

Maple Grove.


I have a question for you. (Maybe two.) These are general questions that I've been pondering.

Do you think Hannah, as she was written, is an effective narrator?

Does she convince you that she knows the things she's writing/telling?

Do you feel like you know HER by the end of the book? Could you write a summary of the things that she cares about? Could you predict her attitude or disposition in any given circumstance?


Have you weighed in on the casting call options for Burley? Brad (A River Runs Through It) Pitt and Jeffrey Dean Morgan have been mentioned along with a scruffy George Clooney.

I wonder who should play Hannah.

:) Lynn

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Burley, you rascal.

Perhaps I am a prude.

Perhaps I grew up with a bunch of Puritanical folk.
(I did live in Wheaton, Illinois: All American City, home of Wheaton College)

But living with a woman and having a child out of wedlock was, um, frowned upon and quite unusual in my younger days.

Dan Quale publically frowned upon it in the 80's.

I am not trying to judge.

I just want to know why the folks in Hannah's world did not find it scandalous.

Did this aspect of Burley's life suprise you? shock you? puzzle you? bore you?

Inquiring minds want to know.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Where's the Joy, Hannah?

I'm sensing everyone is bursting to talk about the book now that they have finished or are nearly finished.

I know for certain that Tammy NEEDS to talk about it before she forgets her brilliant observations (many of which will make their appearance here over the next couple of days).

The particular conversation that I'd like to have today has already been started by Donna over at Quiet Life and by a number of you in the comment section of Moving at the Speed of Wendell (the post before the party.)

The observation many of you have pointed out is that Hannah seems to be lacking joy when she speaks of her grown children. I noticed this, too and I have a theory that I'd like to throw out for the purpose of discussion. I wondered if it was too early to talk in such broad terms about this book but I think we can handle it, don't you?

I'll just come out with it. (You have to be brave sometimes.)

I think Hannah's attitude toward the choices her grown children make is Wendell being critical of those choices. It's difficult for me to read it any other way. In Part One, Hannah is a real person to me that I can relate to, but by the end of Part Two she has become a mouthpiece, full of opinions and not afraid to spout them.

What do you think?

Part of the problem with Part Two for me is that she seems cold toward and critical of the paths her children have chosen. I have difficulty imagining myself reacting that way seeing my children carve a way for themselves in the world and being content. I think Margaret is a separate story but certainly her boys chose things they loved and they succeeded at them. It's as if Wendell is saying that the Branches made a better choice by choosing to stay, continuing to farm and carrying on the old ways.

It's as if the relationship she has with her children is dependent on their proximity to Port William, not on their blood line. I can understand the loss of their leaving but I can't understand the loss of relationship once they are gone. It would seem to me a better argument for a Port William way of life if the author portrayed its residents as capable of producing relationships that transcend a place.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and I invite you to agree or disagree at will. There are no right answers here, right? Just good discussion.

I also think Hannah would root for the Cardinals today.

And that's the last opinion in this post.


Thank you all for your wonderful birthday wishes!

I am blessed beyond measure,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


We interrupt this book club for a birthday party.


It's Lynn's birthday today!

You would never guess it, but she loves to celebrate birthdays!

So, send her your birthday blessings in the comments and then go read the new post below this one!!!

Happy Birthday, Lynn!
Love you like a friend :o)


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Moving at the Speed of Wendell

"Time doesn't stop. Your life doesn't stop and wait until you get ready to start living it. Those years of the war were not a blank, and yet during all that time I was waiting. We all were waiting."

Your life doesn't stop and wait until you get ready to start living it.

One of the profound joys of reading is hearing someone outside yourself speak something that is true, something that you recognize is true. I get a tingly feeling moving up my leg when that happens.

This passage is found in Chapter Six (does it bug you that I jump around?) and Hannah is describing life in Port William during the war. I think it's a brilliant description of what people do when they know perfectly well that, if allowed, naming their griefs and fears could render them useless and paralyzed. Not naming them doesn't make them go away but it does allow them to move through space and time, through a daily existence of purpose and work. And this is how the folks in Port William live through the war years: they don't talk about their fears and griefs, they just keep going about their lives, fully aware that everyone is acquainted with the elephant in the room, large and pink.

There is waiting. Waiting for the war to be over and in the midst of waiting, a life has to be lived. And pleasures come whether you invite them or not, because God made us to enjoy His goodness and to feel His pleasure in good things. Wendell doesn't come out and say this, but I think it's what he means when he says:
"And yet pleasures came. It was a pleasure-giving house and place, a place we were glad to be. Farming went on, housekeeping went on, cooking went on, eating and sleeping went on."
(Apart from the farming, this sounds like my life: housekeeping, cooking, eating and sleeping. Hey, Hannah! Are you talking to me?)

I love the list of pleasures that follow. Who among us has not experienced the goodness represented in this list?

suppers in Hargrave with Auntie Ora, followed by games of rummy

reading books and discussing them ("a dependable pleasure")

summertime visits with energetic, adventurous, fearless little boys

long summer evenings spent on front porches

The older I get the more I appreciate living the life I've been given, taking joy and finding satisfaction in my daily work and noticing the pleasures when they come. I love Wendell for validating lives lived this way...not specifically in a place like Port William...but in an awareness that every day is a gift and there is pleasure to be found in the ordinary and a satisfaction to be gained in appreciating the pleasures, no matter the form in which they come.

I think we call them simple pleasures. Maybe a better term would be ordinary pleasures.

And I don't think you need to be a farmer or a housewife to experience them. :)

Do you?


My apologies for letting this blog go unfed for a few days. Instead, I was feeding my family and essentially being held in the vortex of daily living. Tammy calls it the spin cycle.

I'd love to know, in addition to your thoughts on simple pleasures and living the life you've been given, where are you in the book? We don't want to move ahead too quickly if folks are still enjoying the goodness that is Part One.

Thanks for being here, even when I'm not.

:) Lynn

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Christmas with the Feltners



Wrapping paper flying about the parlor.

Sixteen people at the table.

Little boys with pistols.

I recognize this scene. This could be my house on Christmas Day any year since we moved here in 2004.

"Each of us knew that the others were dealing nearly all the time with the thought of the war, but that thought we kept in the secret quiet of our own minds....The war was a bodily presence. It was in all of us, and nobody said a word."

My family is not directly impacted by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We don't have it as a "bodily presence" in the midst of our celebrations.

But we do have griefs and burdens present in our gatherings that we don't talk about directly; immovable sadness over circumstances beyond our ability to explain or fix. I think they are present in some form in every family and like the Feltner Clan, we choose to celebrate and rejoice around them and in spite of them.

Wendell draws a most beautiful picture of mirth and warmth and nostalgia in this scene, doesn't he?

I love the details Hannah remembers, especially of the little boys and their pistols, of Virgil and his teasing and of the visiting dignitaries: Uncle Jack Beechum and Grandmam.

"To have the two of them there, at opposite corners of the table, with their long endurance in their faces, and their present affection and pleasure, was a blessing of another kind."
Hannah doesn't describe another Christmas Day like this one and in fact the chapter ends with the knowledge that "what we were that day was lovely and could not last."

How do you read this? What was it about that day that would not be repeated again? Is it just Virgil and seeing her life in sections: pre-war and post-war? I am really wondering about this because it seems to me that we think this every Christmas--when it's a good one. We think there won't be another one again so special as the one we just had. And then it happens and we repeat ourselves.

Is this Wendell inserting himself, presenting an ideal, asking us to pay attention, again, to the people around our tables?

Did it seem believable to you that they found Andy Catlett crying in a corner at the end of the day?

Too many questions, perhaps.

Discuss at will.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Uncle Jack Beechum, You Make Me All Teary-Eyed

"He knew that I was living in loss, that the baby had been born into loss. He knew, if anybody did, that there was nothing that could be done about it, nothing certainly that he could do, and yet he came."
Oh, Uncle Jack Beechum. You are responsible for the first tears I shed in this book. And you took me by surprise! And I love you for it.

And I love Wendell for writing this section of Chapter Seven so tenderly. Here we have an old man, a retired farmer, living alone in a hotel in Port William making regular house-calls on a young widow and her baby because he could and because he wanted to.

I love that his visits come at odd times and sometimes exasperate Mrs. Feltner. Oh, Mrs. Feltner, I know just how you feel. Making room in your day for the important thing, when the important thing so often feels like an intrusion and an inconvenience is not easy, is it?

Learning to welcome that intrusion with grace and generosity into my day is a life-long pursuit for me. I love that Hannah looks back on those visits with such gratitude. The fact that Mrs. Feltner allowed it, is also a gift.

"He brought me presents--little sacks of penny candy with their necks twisted shut, or little bouquets from neighbors' flower beds to which he helped himself.

But he himself, though he would not have thought it, was the best present...He came to offer himself, to be with us in Virgil's absence, to love us without hope or help, as he had to do. This was a baby that needed to be stood by, and he stood by her."

I am struck by the beauty of this picture of "coming alongside" and just being present in someone's life. There's no agenda, no plan, no schedule, just a visit. It's the gift of pleasant company when solitude means pain and heartache.

That Hannah and Uncle Jack give and receive the same gift makes this scene all the more profound for me. It's God's economy, I think. A spent, old man, with no social graces offers himself, just as he is, and it turns out to be more than enough. A widow and an orphan allow themselves to be blessed and end up being a blessing.

Tissue, anyone?

Have you cried yet?

Do you have a Jack Beechum in your life?

If I were a real blogger and if this were my full-time job I'd take a few moments and figure out how to put all the great links that have been left in the comments up on a sidebar for all to see. Since I'm not going to do that, I want to encourage you to read through the comments and follow the links that have been suggested by fellow readers.

I especially enjoyed the one on thrift.

If you can, I recommend having Blogger send you an email when there's a new comment. If I weren't getting those I'd have missed Carol mentioning sex and I'd have missed Diane's long-awaited arrival. (Her husband, John, is reading the book right now and I'd love it if he'd join the conversation here. Wouldn't that be fun?)

See you in the comments,

:) Lynn

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Membership

"I had come unknowing into what Burley would have called the 'membership' of my life."

I am fascinated by the family dynamics in Hannah Coulter.

I strongly desire this type of closeness and "membership"
but it has not been my fate.

In one generation, I have seen this type of membership of community and family disappear.

Have you stumbled into the "membership" in your life?

Do you still find that the extended family is alive and well?

How has the family changed since the 1940's?
How has it stayed the same?

Another thing I noticed in Hannah's family was their silence.
When Virgil is missing, they do not speak of their fears.
They do not speak with one another of their pain and sadness and anger.

Because this is so different from how our family dealt with our grief,
I found it heavy and sad.

I would burst if I could not say I was afraid.

Hannah's family would not have liked my chatty self.

What do you think?


Monday, January 19, 2009

Lucy and Ethel Had a Meeting

They did.

Lucy drove to Ethel's house and kept her coat on the whole time because Ethel's house is under-insulated with ancient wavy-glass windows. And Ethel is cheap with the heat.

At the meeting there was a lot of chattering and laughing and exclaiming, but not much talking about Hannah Coulter. That's pretty typical. Lucy and Ethel often knit together and never make a stitch so it comes as no surprise to them that a meeting about a book should result in little to no conversation about said book.

Lucy and Ethel fly better by the seat of their pants.

Are you ready to fly with Lucy and Ethel?

Today, let's talk about first impressions. That's not so hard, is it?

Is Hannah Coulter what you expected? Are you motivated to keep reading or is it a struggle?

You can be honest here. The more honest, the better. And if you change your opinions as you go through the book, that's perfectly fine. Mine changed, I'll admit that right now. (When you have so many some are bound to be fickle.)

Second, we need, need, need to talk about the first chapter (or just the first page if you're brighter than most.)

What is up with the first chapter?

How many times did you have to read it before it made any ounce of sense to you?

Was it clear to you who was speaking on the first page? Just curious.

For me, there is a huge difference in clarity between Chapter One and Chapter Two. Given that it's the same narrator I'm trying to figure out why. I did go back and reread Chapter One after I had finished the book and it was like a fine dessert after a satisfying meal. Does this make Chapter One an ineffective introduction or a brilliant one?

Have you seen our marbles?

Lastly, we'd like to know how and to what degree you sympathize, or don't sympathize, with Hannah or any of the characters you've met so far.

Are they folks you relate to? Understand? Are there specific moments they experience that you recognize from your own life?

Please pick and choose from these questions and discuss what interests you. The comments are where the real content of this blog resides. Please feel free to check back and respond to what others are saying, ask questions and generally chime in. Our questions are coming from our own curiosity and I expect your comments will generate more questions. (I just used the same word multiple times in one paragraph when I could have chosen another. Why would I do that? Is that a literary device? Does that remind you of anyone? Don't answer...I'm getting ahead of myself.)

As you answer, please keep in mind we're trying to contain the discussion to Part One for this week. I will be reminding myself of that all day as I really want to talk about Virgie. If you hear me mention Virgie before we get to Part Three, please slap my hand.

What could I do? I couldn't dance. I couldn't sing. I could talk.
--Lucille Ball

I could talk all day about Virgie.

Virgie, Virgie, Virgie.


:) Lynn

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I warned you about tidbits and tangents dancing in my head.

I didn't plan to blog today but I can't help it.

Hannah graduated from high school in 1940, gathered up her life savings, ($2,500 in today's economy), left Grandmam and moved in with gracious and kind, Ora. She's a young, single girl in a small Kentucky town in 1940.

Do you know what the number one hit was in 1940? You'll never guess.


The video says 1943, but my cracker-jack research confirms it was 1940.

I imagine Hannah and Ora sitting around the radio on a Sunday afternoon, smiling, maybe humming along, certainly thinking about those they love and those who have loved them. For Hannah, that's a very short list at this point in time.

If you click on my cracker-jack research link you will simply be overwhelmed.

Wendell doesn't mention these events but they are there, in the background, the year Hannah graduates and moves out on her own:

  • France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway and Romania fall to Hitler's Germany before the start of summer. Poland and Czechoslovakia have already been taken.
  • Winston Churchill replaces Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister of Great Britain in May.
  • German U-boats destroy Allied merchant ships in the Atlantic seeking to cut off supplies to Great Britain and starve the island.
  • The German Luftwaffe (air force) begins bombing London and other strategic British targets during the summer and fall engaging the Royal Air Force in what was to become known as the Battle of Britain.
  • Auschwitz opens.
  • Oskar Schindler buys an idle kitchenware factory.
  • US unemployment is at 14.6%
  • The first Social Security check is mailed.
  • McDonald's serves its first hamburger in California and Dairy Queen sells its first sundae in Illinois. (Wendell wouldn't approve.)
And this pretty airplane, the P-51 Mustang, makes its maiden flight.

Tangents are dangerous things. They can take you down roads and rabbit-trails reminding you of things you know and things you've forgotten you knew.

I think 1940 would be a difficult year to deliver a valedictory address, especially one entitled "The Future that Lies Shining Before Us."

Because it is the Lord's Day, I leave you with scripture. This was our passage this morning in our little church of four. It wasn't planned, but it didn't escape my notice that this reads like a creed for Port William. From Romans 12:

Let love be genuine.
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.



Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Little Weekend Tobacco Tangent

I've nearly finished the book the first time through and I'll admit my throat tightened and my eyes watered profusely exactly once so far. I wonder if that happened to you and in the same place. I'll find out soon enough.

In the mean time I've been thinking about tobacco farming. If you've read any of Wendell's interviews or articles you know a lot more about this issue than I do.

But I don't really think about tobacco farming as an issue. To me it's a romantic idea of immigrants, beautiful barns, community and hard work. (And hobbits, but that's not really what we're talking about here. Although, I have a firm belief that just like in musicology where all discussions eventually lead to Beethoven, all book discussions eventually include Tolkien. And all homeschooling discussions eventually center upon math curricula. Someone really ought to study this.)

We have a history of tobacco farming here in southern Wisconsin. Sterling North grew up near Edgerton and mentioned helping with the tobacco harvest in the middle of the night in his book, Rascal. It has always intrigued me that they were so dependent on just the right kind of weather for harvesting--foggy and moist for several days so the leaves could be stored just so. And everybody was needed for the harvest. Tobacco farming must be one of the most intricate and challenging forms of agriculture you could ever try.

Driving the country roads around Edgerton and Fort Atkinson you can still see old tobacco barns and sometimes even a small field where someone is still growing tobacco. It's a beautiful plant, and its history in this country is a tangent too large for just a weekend. But I'm thinking about it anyway because the folks in Port William are growing it.

I tried growing it last summer in my garden. The flowers looked just like this and attracted hummingbirds.

That was a gratuitous mentioning of summer.

I'll leave you with a gratuitous picture of a stone fence in Kentucky, perhaps one of the most romantic images of rural life there could be, at least for me.

I've always wanted a stone fence. Hannah has one.

:) Lynn

Friday, January 16, 2009

Let's Get Serious Just for a Moment

I think we're going to have much to talk about here. My head is swimming at the moment with all sorts of tidbits and tangents about Hannah and Wendell and Ivy and Grandmam and now Virgil!

I wish I could just spout them all out loud. It would be easier than trying to decide what to write.

I wonder if Wendell ever feels like his head is going to explode with words.

I'm not one to do a bunch of research on someone before I read their books. I don't know too many people who approach their reading that way. I think most of us read books because they're recommended and then they might research the author if they're curious.

My impressions of Wendell Berry have come from reading a few of his essays, the title of the specific collection escapes me. Unfortunately for me, his essays caused me to ignore his novels-- until yesterday.

I mention my torrid past with Wendell because Anna, in the comments, told me she left Oprah's Book Club to be here.

Are you with me?

When Anna told me she left Oprah's Book Club to be here, I went to Oprah's Book Club to see what she left behind and, you know, to see how Oprah does it.

Um, Anna? There's a lot of neato stuff over there! Lots of links and information and discussions and videos and professionals. And big words like dialectic. I found myself reading all of it--even the discussion questions for a book I have no intention of reading.

Those questions were pretty well-written, too. I noticed she got the author of the book to write them.

That's not going to happen here. So, Anna, I just wanted you to know that Wendell Berry won't be here nor will he be submitting questions about his book. (I found that odd, anyway.)

Visiting Oprah's site confirmed something for me. I'm easily influenced by first impressions. Reading about the book on her site made me not want to read it. I ignored Wendell for six years because his essays made me a little bit mad (mostly because he couldn't hear me asking him questions as I was reading them). So, I'm hesitant to give you a bunch of links about Wendell because I don't want to be responsible for causing you to read Hannah Coulter through a lens that's anything but pure and raw and honest and only your very own.

Except I found an intriguing interview that he did in 2004 with Sojourner Magazine. Hannah Coulter was published in 2004 and I noticed something as I read the interview. He speaks like he writes or he writes like he speaks. There are phrases spoken in this interview that are found verbatim in the text of Hannah Coulter.

I find this fascinating and I really hope I don't get sucked into reading every single interview I can find on the web because we're actually trying to do some schoolwork today and I'd like to have a hot meal ready when Chad gets home from work.

Click and read at your own risk.


We will be discussing Part One, Chapters 1 - 7, all next week beginning on Monday. I fully expect everyone to be in different places at different times and I fully expect that our discussions will overlap throughout the entire book. In other words, if we miss something that you wish to discuss you are invited and urged to bring it up no matter where we are in the discussion. Remember! The comments are the real blog here--don't miss them!

Now. Because I think you'll want to know, Hannah's savings of $162.37 is roughly $2500 in today's economy.

And one more thing, I keep hearing a man's voice (Wendell's, I presume, though I've never heard him speak) when I should be hearing a woman's. We'll be talking about "voice" next week but in the mean time, Donna made a great suggestion: read out loud to myself for a few pages to hear my voice instead of Wendell's. I'm sorry if by suggesting this I've now brought to your attention a problem you didn't know you had. Forgive me.

Did you notice Wendell and I are on a first-name basis? I've forgiven him for making a bad first impression and he's forgiven me for making hasty judgments.

His prose is making up for a lot of past mistakes.

:) Lynn

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In Which Lucy and Ethel Read a Book

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you that I really know nothing about Hannah Coulter, and Donna admitted she confused her with Ann. (I just linked to a controversial personality. I wonder what will happen next.)

And apparently I have zero experience in leading a book club given that I've never led a book club. I wonder if Donna has ever led a book club. I've never asked her.

If it hasn't become clear, it will become clear shortly: I have no blogging experience except in reading them. At least we know Donna has blogging experience.

Are you still with me?

Did you notice there are more than the anticipated three people here?

That makes me want to do two things simultaneously: 1) crawl into a hidey-hole and 2) thank you for being here.

I'll go with #2: THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE!!!!


I wasn't going to tell my husband about this little blog because there was a part of me that was a teeny bit embarrassed. Embarrassed that, on a whim, I would start a blog about a book I'd never read nor knew a thing about just because Donna suggested it.

But I did tell him last night just before dinner. I made an off-hand comment about the blog.

"What blog?"

"The HannahCoulterBookClubforCopyCats." I said it very quickly; hoping it'd be less embarrassing.

He surprised me then. He grinned. He wanted to read it. He laughed out loud at all the right places.

And then he started asking the questions.

Questions about schedules and formats and content and moderators and how we came to choose a book by Dave Barry anyway.

"Wendell Berry," I said. Then it occurred to me that a book by Dave Barry might be a whole lot easier and I started getting a sick feeling in my gut.

After the twelfth question I heard myself say for the twelfth time, "I don't know." And then it hit me: Lucy and Ethel were at the wheel.

Lucy and Ethel read a book and start a book club, indeed.

Dear Friends, I think we're in for some hare-brained and unplanned fun and her name is Hannah Coulter.

(Thank you for being here. I hope those of you who are spending your hard-earned cash on the book will not regret it.)


P.S. I remember being told as a child that I was nearly named Lucy but my Grandma stepped in and forbad it. Imagine a woman named Bertha forbidding a woman named Linda to name her child Lucy! I was grateful to my grandma every year at Christmastime when I saw Lucy on television being so mean to Charlie Brown. But I did secretly wish for a second syllable and real vowel.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

And so it begins...

Welcome to the Hannah Coulter Book Club for Copy Cats!

On January 9th, in the comment section of a world famous blog, no more than a gazillion of some of the smartest women I know in cyberspace listed Hannah Coulter as the BEST book they read in 2008.

I started to wonder if they had secretly met and discussed the book without inviting me.

I asked but no one answered the question.

And then Donna suggested we start our own Hannah Coulter Book Club for Copy Cats. I say "we" because I fully expect her to be here everyday helping me because I know nothing about having a blog and she's a professional.

And, I'm lazy.

And, I have food to cook, kids to teach and sidewalks to shovel.

Enough about me.

Let's read the first few chapters, shall we? And then we'll discuss.

Wait! I just thought of a question for the comments!

Is this your first Wendell Berry book?

I've read some of his essays but I can't remember the title of the collection. This will be my first WB novel. I need a good novel. I've been disappointed three times in a row.

And it's winter, after all. Have you noticed? Let's hope Hannah Coulter begins with some hot, humid, flip-flop weather, shall we? I wonder if she wears flip-flops...

:) Lynn