Hannah Coulter

Hannah Coulter

A Novel

Paperback - 2005
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In the latest installment in Wendell Berry's long story about the citizens of Port William, Hannah Coulter remembers. Her first husband, Virgil, was declared "missing in action" shortly after the Battle of the Bulge, and after she married Nathan Coulter about all he could tell Hannah about the Battle of Okinawa was "Ignorant boys, killing each other." The community was stunned and diminished by the war, with some of its sons lost forever and others returning home determined to carry on. Now, in her late seventies, twice-widowed and alone, Hannah sorts through her memories: of her childhood, of young love and loss, of raising children and the changing seasons. She turns her plain gaze to a community facing its long deterioration, where, she says, "We feel the old fabric torn, pulling apart, and we know how much we have loved each other." Hannah offers her summation: her stories and her gratitude, for the membership in Port William, and for her whole life, a part of the great continuum of love and memory, grief and strength.
Publisher: Berkeley, CA : Counterpoint, [2005]
ISBN: 9781593760786
Characteristics: 190 p. : maps, geneal. table ; 23 cm.


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Oct 01, 2020

The times we are living in now make me crave nostalgic reads. This book is wonderful.

Jan 22, 2020

Even though this appears to be classified as Christian fiction, it doesn't read that way and neither do any of the other novels in the Port William series. I accidentally read Hannah Coulter first, not knowing it was part of a series at the time, but I don't regret it at all.

This is my favorite book and favorite series of all time and I've no doubt it will always be. Hannah is an incredible woman, strong and compassionate, lovingly written. This paragraph that combines her thoughts of both emotional and physical love for her husband stood out for me when I read it several years ago, and does to this day, as the most beautiful piece of writing I've ever read:

“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 world on world, 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 in 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're 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?”

The community of Port William is so rich with character and beautiful prose, describing a much caring, hard working and gentle way of living, it lingers long in the heart and on the mind, calling to be re-read over and over again.

I am familiar with some of Mr. Berry's non-fiction writing, as well as his thoughts on farming and conservation of the environment. He is a national treasure.


JCLEmilyW Apr 23, 2013

Quiet, deep, and lyrical, this book is worth reading and rereading. Author Wendell Berry has captured the atmosphere and rhythms of farming life from the perspective of Hannah Coulter, a woman whose life has been shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, and the national decline of the small family farm. Over the course of this short novel, Hannah perceptively and compassionately reflects on her long life and the people she has known, encompassing personal tragedies and joy in graceful, poetic prose.

Apr 08, 2012

Very alive.


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