Monday, July 29, 2013

Reading Journal: Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

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Book Description:
"Ignorant boys, killing each other," is just about all Nathan Coulter would tell his wife, friends, and family about the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. Life carried on for the community of Port William, Kentucky, as some boys returned from the war and the lives of others were mourned. In her seventies, Nathan's wife, Hannah, has time now to tell of the years since the war. In Wendell Berry's unforgettable prose, we learn of the Coulter's children, of the Feltners and Branches, and how survivors "live right on."
My thoughts:
I have heard many good things about Wendell Berry's books. I really have a thing about reading books in order, but I had a hard time figuring out which book came first in his "Port William" novels and ending up just diving into Hannah Coulter.

I have to admit that Wendell Berry does a great job of drawing you right into the story. This story wasn't easy to put down. The story begins with the beginning of Hannah's life and follows her through growing up, years on her own, romance, marriage, being a widow and a new mom, and then finally the life she built with Nathan Coulter. It also gives a peek of the community of Port William and the people who surrounded them day in and out.

Wendell Berry writes very realistic fiction and I have to admit that as much as I enjoyed the story I also found it very sad and too realistic. I loved Hannah's resilient spirit, but her children were such a disappointment to me and just plain made me mad. I do like a story with a satisfying ending, which I didn't find in Hannah Coulter, but I do think it gave me a lot to think about.

Though Hannah Coulter didn't meet my expectations, I will be checking out other Wendell Berry books just to satisfy my curiosity. Have you read Wendell Berry? Which ones do you recommend?


  1. Jayber Crow was my first and it hooked me!

    1. I think Jayber Crow will be my next Berry book I read.

  2. That Distant Land (short stories) was my first Berry book and it made me a huge fan. I'm halfway through Jayber Crow and though I love Berry's writing, I don't think it's as powerful as the first book I read. Maybe that will change as I read the second half.

  3. I've had this on my TBR list for so long! I read Jayber Crow and loved it but found it difficult.



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