The Widow Down by the Brook

The Widow Down by the Brook

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Mary and Wilmot MacNeill led a simple life together in a tiny house in Hartford, Connecticut. But when they learned that Wilmot's cancer would soon take his life, he insisted that they would build Mary a home in the country, where she could learn to live on her own and take care of herself, once he was more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 156 x 243.3 x 22.9mm | 497.65g
  • ISIS Publishing
  • ISIS Large Print Books
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Large type / large print
  • Large type edition
  • 0753157179
  • 9780753157176

Review quote

"This is a natural for screen translation."show more

Review Text

A charming 1950s time capsule of self-reliance and community served without frills, New England-style. The 46-year-old manuscript (stored among MacNeill's papers until now) begins in Connecticut. MacNeill's husband, Wilmot, with terminal cancer, vows to get her settled in her own home before he dies. Despite her doubts, he buys an abandoned barn in a rural tundra called Canton Comer (population 440), but dies before heat, windows, and floors are completed. The 44-year-old MacNeill remains to build and to keep this record. With encyclopedic but not deadening detail (befitting her job as a librarian), she describes intricacies of house-building, including hanging doors, laying floors, and installing water pipes. Peppered throughout are references to things long past, like Dale Carnegie courses, practices like finding a last-minute book at the library for nighttime entertainment, and words like "lonesome" (not "lonely") and "girls" (for females of all ages). Also true to its time are the author's attitudes, such as her acceptance of her husband's plan to buy a house - "I didn't ask questions, knowing that enlightenment would follow eventually." Even her librarian's job is not discussed in terms of career advancement; she likes books and people, especially when they ask for "The Cain and Abel Tragedy" but mean The Caine Mutiny. Yet she lives alone and accepts, even likes, it. So direct in its storytelling, so American in its idealization of home, and so perfect for actresses of a certain age that this is a natural for screen translation, Just as Walker Evans captures an entire era through a photograph of a house, so film may deepen the emotional meaning of this representative, though not transcendent, work. Forget the memoir's lure of exotica. This work offers only homely truths: Every person needs someone, but if you lose or never find that person, you can make a home and take care of yourself. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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3 40% (2)
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1 20% (1)
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