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A Place in the Country Hardcover – June 26, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (June 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573221570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573221573
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,121,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her well-received memoir, Sleeping Arrangements (1989), Cunningham chronicled her years growing up in the Bronx. Now, in a book dedicated to all the city people "who love nature with a passion that is near demented in its innocence," the playwright and journalist recounts a lifelong love of greenery, and the pleasure and frustration she has found living in the Shawangunk Mountains of New York. As a child, Cunningham and her unmarried mother, Rose, were often forced to share cramped apartments with relatives, though they dreamed of owning "a private home" in the country. Then, when Cunningham was eight, her mother died. Years later, as a young married woman, she rented a house in a suburb of New York. Although she reveled in easy access to forest and mountain, the gated community didn't satisfy Cunningham's fantasy of country life, and after some 10 years of searching, she found her dream house in the mountains. Adjacent to a working dairy farm, the Inn was part of a huge estate that a titled English couple were gradually selling off, although they remained as neighbors. Cunningham recounts with wry humor her conversion from innocent newcomer to country sophisticate, a process that included raising chickens (whose eggs, she figures, cost her $25 a dozen), feeding two ornery goats and tending an ill-fated garden. Her pastoral life has been interrupted by serious illness, counterbalanced by her joy in adopting her two little girls. She passes quickly over the breakup of her marriage and concludes by describing her uneasy adjustment to new neighborsAa swami and his followers. Throughout, Cunningham's lovely portrait of country scenes will engage readers who, like her, have dreamed of the glories of a rural retreat. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Cunningham's memoir, a case for creative nonfiction, embodies Robert Frost's remark that "locality gives art." Now a playwright and journalist whose fiction has been published in The New Yorker and elsewhere, she offers compelling descriptions of her childhood in the Bronx, of a first country home 40 miles north of the city in a gated community of rentals and, later, of a real home in the country surrounded by farmers, animals, and other eccentric life forms. Humor serves as a cornerstone of her well-crafted prose and provides a counterbalance to the sometimes serious experiences of a child, and then an adult, in search of a country home. This memoir draws you in as a novel might, capturing your interest with plot and charactersDCunningham's mother, Rosie; her uncles Len and Gabe, who become "guardians of her fate"; and an intriguing array of neighbors are well worth meeting. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.DSue Samson, Univ. of Montana Lib., Missoula
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
Sort of boring writing.
Marie Chiavoni
I found this book very habit forming and was so interesting I just had to keep reading.
"momelly"
Story telling skills are obvious, lyrical writing skills less so.
Marcella Gauthier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Haschka TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
In SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS, author Laura Shaine Cunningham movingly remembered her life growing up in the Bronx with her single mother, Rosie, until the latter's untimely death, after which Laura's guardians were her mother's two odd-ball bachelor brothers, Len and Gabe.
A PLACE IN THE COUNTRY is essentially a sequel, wherein Ms. Cunningham describes her life from the mid-1950's to Y2K. Indeed, the first couple of chapters reprise events of her life with Rosie and her uncles - all in the context of explaining her developing love for "the country". This is not unexpected in someone who grew up in small, overcrowded, city apartments. Most of the book revolves around the two rural homes in which the author has spent a good portion of her adult life, the Castle and The Inn, the latter having been her abode away from The City for the last 18 years up to the present.
Laura's life has been, in many ways, perfectly ordinary - probably not so different from the general pattern of yours or mine. Perhaps that's why it's so appealing. (We have here not the memoir of an obnoxious diva, whining and overpaid sports figure, or dysfunctional actor.) The author's great ability in sharing is her gentle, wry sense of humor, whether it's telling us about the trials of converting an old underground cistern into a swimming pool, or starting an ill-conceived cottage industry in potpourri pillows, or battling the local fauna over home-grown tomatoes, or the adoption of her first daughter from Romania, or her second daughter from China, or learning the pitfalls inherent to raising chickens, geese and goats. For instance ...
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Delightful. Fix yourself some ice tea, put your feet up, and pretend that you are sitting among the foxglove and asters in a New England garden, even if you're stuck on the twentieth floor of a New York City high-rise. This is summer in the country as it should be. The pleasures of country life are so vivid, along with the absurdities, the weeds, the mud, the mosquitoes, and the contretemps that can only be dealt with by laughing, that you may be tempted to move to a small, rural village. Unless you happened to also read The Enduring Shore and have decided to move to a saltwater village on Cape Cod. Or to read Bullough's Pond and are looking for a small lake within commuting distance of Boston. Or, well, you could just check them all out of the library and put yor feet up. It's been a great season for books about New England.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I love to read about dream houses and people getting their wish fulfilled so this story of the poor little orphan from the bronx, who grew up in city apartments, seven people in three rooms, really moved me. The story is as sad as Angela's Ashes but funny as The Egg and I--It is a really fascinating mix of memoir and how a city person can live in the country. I could not put it down as Miss Cunningham lucks out and gets a romantic estate in upstate New York. The writing is as beautiful as the travel books but I liked it more as it is about our home country. It is not pretentious like some of those books --You don't have to be a millionaire to have a dream house come true! This is also a beautiful memoir of a special family. You have to read the first book, too, Sleeping Arrangements, because it dares to go where few writers are willing --the true secret unexpurgated lives of city kids. I was one too! LOVED THIS! What a pair of books! If you ever wanted country property, get this quick!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A "must read" for anyone who has ever longed for the "country." The author takes us along with her on her (often hilarious) quest to find that idyllic place in the country. This is a book filled with charm and wit, full of eccentric and wonderful characters (many of whom readers of the author's earlier book "Sleeping Arrangements" will recognize). Laugh-out-loud funny but also wise and loving. Her description of the cows alone is worth the price of the book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An irresistible ode to the pleasures and absurdities of country living. Laugh-out-loud funny, but also strikes deeper chords about place and identity. Fans of Cunningham's "Sleeping Arrangements" will treasure this semi-sequel; first-timers will be delighted to make her acquaintance. Read this one outdoors!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Marcella Gauthier on September 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a writer, I have often divided other writers into story tellers and lyrical writers. Story telling skills are obvious, lyrical writing skills less so. A writer who can create a mood or scene in words gets my vote. I like to be able to hear, see, smell, and if possible, touch, it. Laura Shaine Cunningham is both kinds of writer. She manages to tell a compelling story of her childhood in the Bronx, losing her mother, her young adulthood just north of New York City in Tuxedo Park, to finally settling in upstate New York in Willowby. I was entranced with the stories and images of her life and highly recommend this book to anyone longing for the country or anyone who just enjoys good writing.
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