Publisher and Publication Date: Counterpoint LLC. 2005.
Genre: Fiction. Women. Family. World War II.
Source: E book copy from Library.
Audience: Readers of women and family stories. This is a thinking story. A thoughtful book.
Wendell Erdman Berry was born in 1934. He was born in Kentucky. He is a farmer and writer. The Britannica link gives a full biography.
This is the first book I’ve read by Wendell Berry. I plan to read more of his writings.
The title of the book is the name of the main character. Hannah is the voice. This is the story of her life. Her perspective, thoughts, feelings, fears, sadness, wistfulness, joy, longing, and reflection.
The story begins by letting me know some of the big moments: who she will marry, children, and the early part of her husband’s life before the war. So, I was given a little information about the books journey, but I didn’t know the fullness of experiences Hannah lived.
Hannah lived in a rural area most of her life. She is a white woman. She didn’t travel or have the ability to know much about what happened outside her community. She lives in Kentucky. She is born in the early part of the 20th century. She is apart of the Builder’s Generation. The Greatest Generation. People who experienced the Great Depression and World War II.
I’ve read a few reviews on this book and readers have been bothered that Hannah does not know people of other races. They don’t understand how this could be true. If you live in a rural area and amongst people who look like you do. If there isn’t Internet, and desegregation has not happened, and when going to town you don’t encounter people of another race, then that experience is not apart of your life. This is a different time period. This is history. People in history lived differently than we do.
A second point on this topic: Hannah shared about herself, family, and close friends. This was her world. She wrote about what she knew. When an event (World War II) impacted herself or family she reflected on it.
A final point: Hannah’s life experiences are things that people of any race or gender can identify. For example: an amazing grandmother.
I think it’s interesting Wendell Berry does not use technology. It’s possible that his non use of technology is transferred to the female character of Hannah. Internet makes the world closer to home. This is a personal choice to use or not use technology.
What I love about this story:
•Hannah shares her wisdom. When she realizes she has made a mistake about a perception or judgement of a person, she admits this and what she’s learned. I’m able to watch Hannah grow into the woman she becomes. Through life experiences, how she handles them, what she learns from them, and how she makes peace.
•She is a patient person. She knew her husband suffered from PTSD, but did not push him to reveal what he didn’t want to reveal. She was just there, beside him, and in a loving manner she loved him as best she could.
•She greets changes in life with grace. She had hard life experiences. She had joy. She raised children and watched them depart from home. At each stage, she had the grace to meet those challenges.
•Hannah is a person of gratitude. Even while experiencing grief, Hannah has reasons to be thankful.
•She reflects on the past, but lives in the present.
•This book is filled with memorable quotes. Quotes that are sheer beauty. They are filled with emotion. They prick the heart.
•She is okay with silence. She is not a woman or person who needs noise to fill her senses. She is okay with silence. She is okay with the quiet but hardworking life in rural Kentucky.
•Hannah Coulter is the story about the dynamics of relationships. Husbands and wives, parents and children, women who help other women, and friends.
•It’s rare for me to cry while reading a book. I shed tears while reading the ending.
•This is a book that in some way most readers can relate or identify with.
•This is one of the most memorable and touching stories I’ve read.
A final point. I promise!
Wendell Berry writes long sentences. I counted 142 words in one sentence.
Do you remember a famous author who wrote lengthy sentences?