TITLE/AUTHOR: Count the Ways; Joyce Maynard
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021
GENRE: Fiction / Family Life
FORMAT: eGalley / LENGTH: 462
SETTING(s): New Hampshire (and Massachusetts)
ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: A beautiful story of an imperfect life: love, marriage, home, children and forgiveness.
BRIEF REVIEW: Eleanor had never known love, as the only child of alcoholic parents who were married twenty years when she was born. Her parents were wrapped up in each other and never seemed to want her around. She was sent off to boarding school and it was while she was at school at the age of sixteen that she learns her parents were killed in a car crash returning from a ski weekend in Vermont. For Eleanor art, as a form of expression, was a way out her loneliness, her early passion turned into a way to earn a living.
With a little money and income from her illustrations and later children's books, she falls in love with a farmhouse with lots of land and even a brook in New Hampshire. She purchased the house complete with furnishings, housewares and tools and so much - it was a house with a history. She is immediately in love with her home. A few years later she meets handsome Cam at a craft's fair in Vermont where he was selling his wooden wares, there is instant passion, and before long three children make them a family. Their Bohemian lifestyle and family makes Eleanor one of the happiest of women in the world. She even overlooks the fact Cam isn't exactly the most hardworking, helpful or responsible partner but, they have built a life together and the children seem happy and their life is everything she ever wanted. So when something terrible happens, Eleanor is beside herself and soon life as the family has known it has changed.
Count the Ways is a story that spans decades. Eleanor is a wonderful, fully fleshed character that women who have experienced the trials and tribulations of motherhood and marriage will be able to relate to (at least I did.) I felt her joys, her disappointments, and her sadness. She experiences possibly more than her share of life's disappointments and difficulties but, she finds a way to cope and keep going. There are a lot of things that happen in this story and yet most everything is still vivid and etched in my mind. I don't want to say too much, I was happy I went into the memorable story without reading what the book was about beforehand. There was so much nostalgia in this story for me as I was raising my children during the same time period: the music, the movies, the news events and more. Everything about this story felt realistic and I don't think it could have been improved upon. The author covered it all - life, family and all the detours along the way that sometimes make our lives turn out different than we imagined when we were young. I felt like I was a close friend of Eleanor and of this family when I turned the final page. I didn't want this one to end. The book is sure to make my faves list for 2021. Highly Recommended.
Thanks go to Edelweiss and William Morrow for allowing me to download this eGalley at no cost in exchange for my unbiased review. This book releases on July 13, 2021.
"This is my radical act, she had told the young Harvard woman. "Raising three human beings, who will go out and change the world."
"For me, being a feminist means manifesting the strength and confidence and tenacity to pursue whatever it is you most want to do with your life. In my case, the goal was having a family. I'm doing that. If I don't get to make art that much at the moment, I can live with it. Nobody gets everything in life. You have to make compromises.
"Children had to know pain, or how would they ever know what to do when they encountered it? Trouble would come, no matter what. The best you could do was to raise your children in such a way that when trouble found them--as it would--they's be able to survive it." (Teach your children well)
"Standing at the kitchen counter, looking out the window, Eleanor could almost feel her heart expand in her chest. Two sensations came to her. Wild happiness at the sight of her three children, terror at the thought of what it would be to lose one of them. If it was possible to love someone any more than this, she could not imagine how."
EPIGRAPH (Ho'oponopono prayer, phrases spoken in any order, for reconciliation and forgiveness.)
I love you.
Please forgive me.