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Around the House and in the Garden: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing, and Home Improvement Paperback – April 2, 2003


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Frequently Bought Together

Around the House and in the Garden: A Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing, and Home Improvement + Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness + Paths of Desire: The Passions of a Suburban Gardener
Price for all three: $34.92

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (April 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743226933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743226936
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Browning and her husband of 15 years divorced, she kept the house and garden they had shared in Westchester, but for a long time she was too depressed to care about where she lived. Gradually, she begins to see that working on the house she had neglected and transforming it into a home again is a way to recover from her despondency. In these short, elegant essays, Browning, a former editor-in-chief of House & Garden, muses on the aspects of domestic life that revived her and shows how she healed her heart and her home at the same time. That symbol of doomed love, the master bedroom, for example, she had abandoned. She fills the bathroom with comfortable furniture and flowers and learns to enjoy lounging in the tub while looking out the window at the moon. A garden bench, a fireplace, chairs grouped together for companionship, the long-neglected garden, impractical objects like a grand piano or ornate candlesticks, the kitchen, a place for companionship as well as "a nice place to be lonely" all these she comes to revere. Soon even the moss-covered bricks in her crumbling driveway delight her, as do ordinary rituals like weeding the garden, planting a tree and cleaning her closets so she can enjoy the memories they contain. Browning has written a warm and graceful paean to the commonplace, imbuing everything she contemplates with magic.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Browning expands on her popular column for House & Garden.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Dominique Browning is a writer, editor and consultant in the newspaper and magazine fields. She blogs at SlowLoveLife.com.

She has worked with and written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, O, the Oprah magazine, Departures, Food &Wine, Travel & Leisure, Body + Soul, Wired and On Topic, among others. She writes a monthly column about environmental issues for the Environmental Defense Fund website.

Until November 2007, Browning was the editor-in-chief of House & Garden, a magazine of 950,000 readers. Browning began her career in 1977 working at Savvy and American Photographer magazines. She also worked at Esquire, Texas Monthly, Newsweek, and Mirabella magazine before joining Conde Nast.

Browning is the author of three books: Around the House and In the Garden: a Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing, and Home Improvement; Paths of Desire: the Passion of a Suburban Gardener; and Slow Love: How I Lost my Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness. She has also authored several books under the House & Garden brand.

Browning is a classically trained pianist, and also performed with Wesleyan's Javanese Gamelan orchestra. She is the mother of two sons and lives in New York and Rhode Island.

Customer Reviews

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I loved this book because I could so relate to it.
L. Millette
I would recommend this book to all who love their home and garden and derive strength and solace from the pleasures of creating beautiful and comfortable homes.
Parinaz Bahadori
Reading this book was like sitting in the parlor and having a cup of tea and girl talk with Ms. Browning.
missjane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Parinaz Bahadori on July 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have always loved the writing of Dominique Browning and turn to her letter from the editor in House and Garden as soon as I receive the magazine in the mail! The book contains a few of those essays (a pleasure to reread them) and many other reflections on her life in her two homes. The houses come to symbolize the state of her heart and mind and Ms. Browning weaves in her other thoughtful musings throughout these sometimes disconnected essays.
I would recommend this book to all who love their home and garden and derive strength and solace from the pleasures of creating beautiful and comfortable homes. The book is honest without being a tell-all. While maintaining the privacy of her ex-husband and sons, Ms. Browning opens up her heart to the reader. I often thought of the symbol of a bird's nest - she herself seemed like a bird who is left to tend to her young in a nest until they are strong enough to fly off on their own. In many ways this book was really a love song to her sons. Perhaps because I have two sons of my own, I really identified with the author's emotions: the raw love of her boys mixed with the desire to have them share her deepfelt sensitivity toward the objects, smells, textures and sounds that surround us in the places we call our home.
I recommend this book with the small caveat that it does not contain a neat plot or storyline, but instead, is a series of thoughtful essays - some a tad depressing, but all very beautifully written. A few of the essays could have been tweaked a bit more as they got redundant, but that is just a quibble!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Renee on September 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be just a wonderful collection of essays about the connections between home and spirit and recommend it highly who is currently in the process of trying to merge or re-merge the two. It especially speaks to women who are starting over in their lives after a divorce but could be just as useful to all women attempting to create some kind of spiritual retreat in which to nurture their bodies and souls. After reading this book, I decided to subscribe to Ms. Browning's House and Garden magazine so I would have the opportunity to enjoy a new essay of hers on the topic of home and life once a month. Her style of writing very much reminds me of Anna Quindlen's. For anyone else who enjoyed Dominique's book, you might also want to read "When A Woman Takes an Ax to A Wall: Where Is She Really Trying To Go?" by Allegra Bennett.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Susan Spilecki on June 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In her essays on life in a home, Dominique Browning, editor of House & Garden, offers her own intensely personal experience with the ways in which the home environment affects and is affected by divorce, self-esteem, and vice versa.
Her descriptions of her rooms, her struggle to find a good living room couch (after successfully finding a kitchen sofa), her explanations of plants and flowers to her young sons, all create the feeling that you are on the phone with an old friend working to describe her evolving life. Her deep understanding of the ways in which our environments affect us (for better, for worse, just like marriage) leads the readers to feel like the changes we've been tempted to make might just be logical after all.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. L. Ferle on June 23, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a longtime fan of personal essays -- and one who teaches writing workshops on the topic -- I found this to be an exceptionally enjoyable and beautifully written collection. Best of all, as a homemaker who loves the domestic arts, I think Browning strikes just the right tone of love and yearning for home.
Most of us are too busy these days to spend all the time we'd like creating a home and garden, or nurturing a young family. Browning hones in on these desires and serves up poignant pieces everyone can relate to -- even if we're not divorced or uprooted. I would love to see more of her work (yes, I subscribe to her magazine just to read her essays) in book form!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Sometimes a book comes along that changes our outlook--perhaps even pulls us from despair. Ms. Browning's book seemed to take my hand and yank me from the quagmire. She seemed to be saying, You are not the first woman to let a garden run to seed or to watch small trees sprout from your gutters! You are not the only woman who has made a mistake--whether it's choosing the wrong a sofa . . . or man. Giving ourselves permission to fix our lifes can often be as difficult as repairing a gas leak --the job is far too difficult and dangerous to contemplate. Setting ourselves free isn't painless--in fact, "setting" is the wrong word. It is more like ripping and tearing; although sometimes it can be more like a surgical separation--no matter, all methods are painful and require a period of rest and healing. That is the most important concept of the book--in her inimitable style, she gently reminds us that it is "okay" to let things go to seed, and that our houses and gardens are barometers of our emotional lives. These barometers will let us know when it is time to rebuild the nest.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on May 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I finished reading AROUND THE HOUSE AND IN THE GARDEN, I unconsciously placed Dominique Browning's book on the shelf next to Mirabel Osler's GENTLE PLEA FOR CHAOS. Spouses who've lost a wife or husband through death or divorce have something in common (whether they like it or not) and both Browning and Osler have something to say about bereavement. Osler's book will help you handle the loss following the death of a spouse, Browning's book will help you fall asleep and forget your ex. Osler's book is somewhat philosophical and for the recovering gardener, Browning's book is for the recovering partner.
Browning is the editor-in-chief of House and Garden magazine, and her series of short essays is reminiscent of those short "editorials" one in her position undoubtedly writes for such a magazine. Her writing is friendly but very general. Browning provides no detail about gardening-or redecorating for that matter. Her book is sort of "autobiographical" but she shares very little of any great import about herself or anyone else in her family (or ex-familia). The closest she comes to sharing her emotions occurs when she describes a bedtime scene where she lifted her son up by his pajama lapels when he mentioned her ex-spouse's intended and jokingly informed him that he was not to talk about "other women" in her presence. In fact, Browning shares less about her self and family than the friendly passenger sitting next to you on a six-hour flight.
If you need calming, gentle, diversionary material to lull you to sleep on those nights when you are thinking obsessively about something that can be better addressed the next day (like causing serious bodily harm), this little book may help. If you want some "real" gardening stuff you should check out Osler's book.
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