35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2000
This book is astounding-- I keep wondering why no one ever told me about it before. Why did I find it on the dusty independent table in the back of bookstore? It is rare and beautiful. Butler-Hathaway's insight, uniquely sensual perspective, enthusiasm, and empathy are lovely. Order it.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2002
This book is amazing, I am 15 and I read it, my mother at 39 read it, my grandma read it and my younger sister at 13 read it. Everyone takes away some different, but something wonderful from this book. It is absolutely indescribable, you have to read it; right now, order it, read it, it will change your outlook on life.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2001
This is a beautiful book on so many levels. The author's voice, the author's spirit, the author's technique of storytelling are awe inspiring. If you have been led to this page, take it as a sign and order this book, reading it is an experience and I can't wait to read it again. If you are looking for a gift to give someone else then this is it, but read it first yourself so that you can trully share it.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2000
My husband gave this book to me and I am truly enjoying it! Katharine sees things from a rare perspective. Her life transformed her into someone that could see deep into even the most mundane subjects. I feel a new appreciation for even the sounds of crickets! She was certainly a person who's cup was always half full! This book is like welcome raindrops, enveloping you and staying with you long after the drops have evaporated!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2006
This book is enchanting, wonderful, and beyond description, except to say it is a testament to the human spirit.
If you read this and loved it, also look at "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," by Jean-Dominique Bauby. If you can't imagine living on your back for ten years, try imagining writing a book using only the ability to blink one eye, to dictate letter by letter. Tis book is another testament to the human spirit.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2010
Katharine Butler Hathaway suffered from a deformity of the spine that caused her to be of small stature and in almost constant pain. She was also a writer. In The Little Locksmith, one of my favorite books about writing, she chronicles her writing life, which for her equals her spiritual life. In the first half of the 20th century, she made the radical choice to live alone, and to write. Her choice was incomprehensible to her beloved family, and perhaps The Little Locksmith is an explanation of sorts. It reads like a revelation. This book helped me to find my soul as a writer. It's also a good recommendation for family members who just don't get it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2008
This book has been sitting around on my shelf since I was a child. I thought it was a child's book when I was young, but couldn't read it. I just pulled it off the shelf again, and have discovered what will become one of my favorite books about hope, determination, the power of positive thinking, and art - its struggles, its blisses, its importance. It is a must read for any writer, or for that matter, any artist who struggles with stealing time to do their art without feeling somehow guilty, or fearful, or terribly isolated. It is about transcendance despite ridiculous odds. It is an amazing, amazing book. I'm so glad I got around to it.
on February 25, 2015
Eccentric little book: wordy, intense, overly self absorbed. Flowery Victorian prose. Much generalization before giving us anything specific to grab onto and then usually it's by way of a metaphor. Gail Hamilton (aka Abigail Dodge) pioneered crisp, succinct prose four decades before Ernest Hemingway wrote his manly little situations. Kitty had trouble saying precisely what she meant; she beat endlessly around the bush but did it so charmingly it doesn't really matter. She wasn't really writing for us but for expression and the pure joy of writing.
Despite this, she leaves us many memorable statements. She wrote honestly on a variety of themes: self-image, mothers and daughters, the creative process, education, sex, disability, "spinster" aunts, friendship, home ownership, human nature, and above all the art of living.
Delightful, elaborated justification for and chronicle of buying and refurbishing her house in Castine, Maine.
Brave, her struggle to not define herself by outward appearances. To find happiness and meaning despite the barriers of ill health and a constricted existence. Proves once again that a small life does not have to be a narrow, deprived life but rich and colorful.
She got some things wrong. Didn't realize seemingly healthy people she met had their own prisons and struggles.
What I got out of this little memoir besides pure delight and the critical need for communication in families is that, while there are infinite ways to be miserable, they don't have to prevail. She alludes to the saying, Love laughs at locksmiths; i.e., Love will find a way. Might paraphrase this to say: Joy will find a way.
on September 7, 2015
Perhaps one of the marks of a masterpiece is the variety of responses it evokes in its readers. The feminists of the 1970s applauded The Little Locksmith as a daring account of the writer's struggle with her deformity and her secret sexual longings. Recent amazon.com reviews are unusually diverse. Most reviewers agree that the book is beautifully written, while others describe it as a book in which almost nothing happens. I found it compelling and couldn't turn its pages fast enough.
The physical world of The Little Locksmith is described with breathtaking freshness and immediacy. Its depictions of inner emotional states are even more vibrantly observed. Most of us did not grow up physically strapped to a board for ten years. But Katherine Butler's inner life, so richly portrayed, resonates with every reader who has felt, in youth, unworthy, flawed, unlovable, in despair of participating in the fullness of life. The book also illuminates the power of the wounded self-image to cripple one's emotional life quite as powerfully as a hump on the back. With deep insight and candor, Butler recounts her journey from self-hatred to self-acceptance and finally to the humility that lies at the heart of her creativity. She did not live long enough to document the rest of her intriguing story, but this little book, released just after the writer's too-early death, is as perceptive and alive today as when it was written, seventy-plus years ago.
on September 17, 2014
I’m so glad Katherine Butler Hathaway’s book has been discovered again . No matter of our worldly position or accomplishments, we all have something of the Little Locksmith within us …the part that feels discounted and forgotten . Hathaway is its champion.
I found this book in a thrift shop in the 70’s and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since. It’s imposable to open it to any page, start to read, and not be caught up.
It’s like hearing from Holden Caulfield’s great Aunt Kitty … because the ill can spot a phoney as swiftly as an intelligent 17 year old . But KBH worked though that field of rye to the other side and to adulthood on her own terms. I urge people to take the journey with her