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Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding Hardcover – January 7, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061710245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061710247
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The carefully constructed home Darling had created in her Manhattan apartment began to fall apart when her husband died. When their only child left for college, and the nest emptied completely, Darling knew she had to reinvent or rediscover herself lest she succumb to the cumulative grief of both events. She abandoned the verve and bustle of New York for the pervasive solitude of Vermont, buying a remote backwoods cabin that could only generously be called rustic. Darling discovers that what she doesn’t know about rural life is nearly eclipsed by what she doesn’t know about herself, yet her determination to learn not only how to live but how to survive is a project she embraces with a journalist’s passion for truth and fact-finding. Along with unrelenting loneliness and unyielding Yankee stoicism, Darling also confronts her own mortality when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Darling has written a fierce and forthright chronicle of one formidable woman’s courageous journey of healing and revelation, gratitude and resilience. --Carol Haggas

Review

“A thought-provoking, poignant and often refreshingly funny book….It is a pleasure to spend time with Darling’s fine writing, thoughtful reflection and perhaps a more trustworthy sense of direction than she is willing to claim.” (Reeve Lindbergh, Washington Post)

“There have been many accounts of conquering nature and disease. But Darling melds her extreme adventures in the woods and in the doctor’s treatment room with brilliance and poetry….Wonderful.” (Judy Bolton-Fasman, Boston Globe)

“Darling is a dazzling writer, able to capture the image of ‘an apple blushing on the scraggly tree’ or the lingering grief of her husband’s death with a beautiful, sometimes tender, immediacy….The heft of this story is in her intelligent questioning of her past and future….Fascinating.” (Leigh Newman, New York Times Book Review)

“Like Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but by a writer who has had a lot more tread scorched off her tires than the young and idealistic Dillard; both a compass and a manifesto for navigating the often-treacherous switchbacks of the second half of life. A marvelous book.” (Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March and Caleb's Crossing)

“What do we do when life unfolds in unexpected ways--which is to say, when life unfolds, full stop? We cave, or we persevere. We grow rigid and numb, or, like the inimitable Lynn Darling, we come to know ourselves, with courage and a beautiful, stumbling grace.” (Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion)

“Lynn Darling is a compelling character, smart and irreverent and earnest in her effort to find her way into the future. In beautiful and surprising prose, Darling invites us to wander with her as she circles and roams and ultimately claims her own destiny.” (Meredith Hall, author of Without a Map: A Memoir)

“Striking in its intelligence and imagery…Darling’s personal version of Dante’s dark night of the soul will resonate with many empty nesters, especially women….A compelling story of internal exploration, as well as outward-bound adventure that owes something to Henry David Thoreau and Virginia Woolf.” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air)

“A graceful, intensely personal coming-of-middle-age story….Like the megaselling memoirs by Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert, it lays out a concrete, mappable-albeit open-ended-plan for self-betterment through travel and discovery.” (Elle)

“Darling has written a fierce and forthright chronicle of one formidable woman’s courageous journey of healing and revelation, gratitude and resilience.” (Booklist)

“This wry, intimate, deeply courageous memoir will speak to any woman who has rounded the corner into the afternoon of life, only to find herself pausing to wonder, Which way now? Lynn Darling was lucky enough to get utterly lost, and then brave enough to chart her own course home.” (Katrina Kenison, author of Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment)

“Lynn Darling is everything I love in a writer: smart, honest, gimlet-eyed. Every sentence worth its weight. You’ll find no easy answers in this memoir of finding one’s way out of grief and loss and illness; instead, a trustworthy guide, a true compass.” (Nora Gallagher, author of Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic)

“Darling’s memoir navigates the geography of loss with a fresh, lush beauty….This is really a book about solitude, with Darling’s ironic wit (often directed at herself) cutting a sharp path through the wandering richness of melancholy.” (More Magazine)

“Fans of Wild and Eat, Pray, Love will relish seeing Darling find her footing.” (Fitness Magazine)

More About the Author

Lynn Darling is the author of Necessary Sins. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, and Elle, among others. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

I just finished the book, finally finding myself skipping pages to get through it.
Nora
This author is a wonderful writer; she has great observation skills and the words just flow from her soul.
Kiwi
This book made me think twice about my own middle age and how I'd like the future to go.
BB

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Isch TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At 56, journalist Lynn Darling found herself alone for the first time. Her husband had died of cancer 12 years earlier and now her only child was heading for college. Feeling the need to create a new life for herself, she sublet her New York apartment and off she went to Woodstock, Vermont, where she'd often vacationed, to find a house to buy and live in year round. Turns out the only one she could afford was an oddly constructed and not quite finished little house, off the beaten track, down an unmarked dirt road and surrounded by woods--an abode she'd later come to call "Castle Dismal."

Before long, she'd come to realize that her lifelong lack of any sense of direction could become quite an impediment when living alone in the woods. Eventually she'd get some help learning the right way to use maps and compasses and other tricks and techniques for finding your way, which she kindly shares with the rest of us. Along the way to finding that way she'd make some friends, have a go at online dating, get herself a dog, learn the difference between a weed and wisteria and be diagnosed with breast cancer--an ordeal she'll invite readers along on, but one with a happy ending. This chronicle of three years in the life of a highly talented and forthright writer makes a good read indeed. And I highly recommend it.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By G. Uhl on December 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Take Henry David Thoreau, time travel him to 2013, change his gender and "Bingo", you've got 'Out of the Woods'.

When I first read Thoreau I was in my very early twenties. I remember thinking what a load of crap. He claims to have gone into the woods to live deliberately and suck the marrow out of life when all I could see was that he free loaded off Emerson and was an artsy bum. Even 'On The Duty of Civil Disobedience', I loved the words but I always thought this man did not really suffer for the cause at all.

Anyways, now I'm approaching 50 and I see it all so differently. I love Thoreau and the Idea of going to the woods to find yourself and figure out what it all means. I love books about survival in the wilderness and especially women making their way in a rough setting.

Darling is at that stage where her role as mother and daughter are both changing. You have sometimes this brief period of time where you have a break between caregiver of your children and care giver of your adult parents. And in this case the author is faced with a life crises during this time and is forced to care for herself.

I love the way the book is sprinkled with passages about wilderness training and passages about folks who have gotten lost and about tricks to navigate terrain/life. I think it's a clever memoir, nicely balanced.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Out Of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding" (262 pages) is the latest from long-time writer (and erstwhile Washington Post journalist) Lynn Darling. As the book opens, we learn that Darling's world is about to be shaken up when her only child, a daughter called Zoe, is about to depart for college. This is a rather traumatic event in Darling's life, as it will make her an empty-nester (we learn that her husband passed away when Zoe was only 6 years old). Observes Darling: "My daughter's departure left questions, big questions, that her presence and the warm hive of family life had made it easy to ignore, of who to be and how to live, of what, if anything, I wanted". Darling decides to move away from her Manhattan condo full-time into a cottage she had bought some years ago in a very remote part of Vermont, indeed "off the grid", even if Darling herself is by no means experienced for that kind of life. "One of my projects in coming to Vermont had been to learn how to grow old, not just gracefully, but also with style and panache".

The book finds a clever balance between on the one hand finding (or at least attempting to find) a new direction in her life, away from Zoe and away from the city life, while on the other hand trying to become familiar with the remote part of Vermont so as not to get lost (as in: literally getting lost) so often. In that sense, this book is truly about "finding your way". I found myself enjoying this memoir the most when Darling examines her life and how she tries finding a renewed purpose, in particularly when she is diagnosed with a lump in her breast, as opposed to Darling mastering the skills of survival in life "off the grid" and topographic map reading (which takes up quite a few pages). But in the end it is a minor quibble.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Angela Risner VINE VOICE on November 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lynn Darling lost her husband years ago. Since then she has focused on raising their daughter, Zoe, by herself. Zoe is now 18 and ready to start her adult life at college.

Darling has been anticipating this moment. In fact, she's purchased a home in Vermont and has been spending the summers there while Zoe went to camp. Now it's time to make the move there more permanent. However, the solitude she seeks turns out to be less creative inspiration for her writing and more reflective of choices made.

I enjoyed the book for the most part. First of all, she moves to just outside of Woodstock, VT, a town I have visited and loved. Second of all, I love the idea of buying a house in the woods, out of the way.

But more than that, I felt a kinship with Darling. Because of the difference in age between my husband and me, I know that I will be a younger widow as well. I have never been the saver of money for future things - I see what I want now and I buy it. I was much more comfortable taking responsibility for others than for myself.

Some favorite moments:

•One life was over and another was beginning and I was no longer any of the things I had been, no longer young and not yet old, and because I had to figure out everything all over again, everything - from where to live, to how to dress, and who (or even whether) to love, because I had no idea of what to do next, and the middle of the woods seemed the best place to get one.
•We name things so we can know them, and knowing them, won't be afraid of them. Maybe we should be afraid.
•Middle age resonates with so much loss, profound and superficial: expectations die, friendships fade, hairlines recede, looks change, and health and hope are no longer givens.
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