Customer Review

119 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Just open your eyes and look at the world.", July 29, 2013
This review is from: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage (Hardcover)
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Before Ann Patchett achieved fame as a novelist, she honed her writing skills as a contributor to Seventeen, where she worked for eight years. She also wrote articles for such publications as Elle, Vogue, Gourmet, and the New York Times Magazine. These free-lance jobs paid Ann's bills and taught her self-discipline, flexibility, and humility. "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage" is a compilation of Ann Patchett's most memorable essays.

All of Patchett's pieces are nicely done, but some are particularly meaningful. I was deeply moved by the author's account of the time she spent with her aging grandmother, who was gradually losing her sight, memory, and ability to think clearly. "The Mercies" is a wonderful tribute to the nuns, especially Sister Nena, who taught Ann to read and write when she was slow to catch on and thought no one would notice. Years later, Sister Nena and Ann reconnected; the two became close friends. Ann supported her former teacher with money for needy children and also offered her time, effort, and comradeship. She no longer regarded Sister Nena as a forbidding and judgmental presence. Instead she recognized her as an exemplary human being to be reckoned with--an independent, compassionate, hard-working, and indomitable force of nature.

With self-deprecating humor, refreshing candor, and lovely, expressive writing, the author generously shares details about her past and reveals what her experiences have taught her about relationships, intellectual freedom, and personal growth. The best entries in this collection are wise, witty, poignant, and refreshingly down-to-earth. Patchett discusses how challenging it is to find a partner who appreciates your strengths and is tolerant of your weaknesses; how fortunate people are who spend each day doing the work that they love; how important family is (even when our relatives disappoint us, they influence who we become); and what a great gift it is to offer others solace, a helping hand, and friendship when they need it most. "This is how we change the world," she says. "We grab hold of it. We change ourselves." (Four and a half stars.)
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Reviewer

E. Bukowsky "booklover10"
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: NY United States

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