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The Geography of Love: A Memoir Hardcover – August 5, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

First-time writer Burgess skillfully writes of how she discovered a powerful new love and broke away from her irascible, stubbornly reclusive mother. With Ken, 13 years her senior and no stranger to life's cruelties, she built a fairy-tale family life only to lose him and her mother to cancer just weeks apart. Burgess's scientifically themed prose is luminous and encompasses a strong spiritual dimension. This sweeping love story will particularly interest those who have endured similar tragedies.—Elizabeth Brinkley
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"A beautiful, eloquent, moving love story that shows that when we believe in love, we can reach heights we never imagined."
--Rabbi Sherre Hirsch, author of We Plan, God Laughs

"A courageous woman’s journey into love’s complexities, navigating what it means to be tied by blood or circumstance across distance and time, while revealing much about human resilience. Framed by spiritual and celestial contemplations, Burgess’ profound observations convince me to embrace and savor wholly each day, each moment, each love, before they, too, are gone."
--Katrina Roberts, author of The Quick and Friendly Fire, winner of the Idaho Prize for Poetry

"I read Glenda Burgess' poignant and harrowing memoir in one sitting–in one breath–and all I had ever felt about love's ability to vanquish everything, to swallow heartbreak, to correct history, Burgess makes us believe. And in a fashion that reads like a classic novel." –Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

"Burgess' tender recollections…remind us all that we tend to be defined by our great loves well after we've lived them." --Elle Magazine

"Burgess lyrically and perceptively explores how the body, emotions and experiences are connected, how love and misfortune affect that landscape...Wrenchingly painful, but intensely affecting." --Kirkus

"Burgess’ journey possesses bravery and open-eyed clarity." --PW

"The resulting memoir...is truly a story of hope. It's the story of the hope that the Burgess family clung to along their journey and the faith they shared in the power and endurance of their love. But it is also a story of hope for the reader--the hope to have this kind of loving ally at one's side during any adversity that life may bring."
--The Tampa Tribune

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767928598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767928595
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,184,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Kanigan VINE VOICE on August 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Glenda Burgess, 30, a former U.S. State Department management analyst, leaves her job and returns home to Spokane, WA. By coincidence, she meets Ken Grunzweig, a 44-year old software executive in a café and falls in love. She learns that Grunzweig has been married twice before - his first wife died in his arms in a tragic car accident. His second wife was murdered shortly after they were separated and Grunzweig remained under suspicion for murder. Despite the wide age difference, the dark clouds of his prior marriages and dealing with consequences of being a "hated" step-mother to Grunzweig's teenage daughter, Burgess plunges ahead in a leap of faith. Her instinctive bet is a good one as the relationship blossoms into a beautiful romance and the birth of two children. The second half of the book centers around her husband acquiring and fighting cancer and the struggle they face battling the disease - with a particularly moving finish.

"The two of us would crawl across the days on nothing but heart and will if we had to."

In the memoir, Burgess also examines her own life and her relationship with her Mother - yearning to give her Mother love and yearning to receive her Mother's love - and never fulfilling either - her hands outreached to give and receive - and the connection never made. Heartbreaking...

Burgess' writing is direct, clear and to-the-point especially in her telling of the rapid deterioration of her husband's health and how she copes with it.

"All around me were patients in some part of a cycle: a cycle of beginnings and ends, of treatment, of illness, even chemotherapy as a palliative, a merciful extension of the inevitable, a kindness. Here I finally understood the corrosion of cancer on the human spirit.
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Format: Hardcover
The Geography of Love is a beautiful, moving, uplifting, and heartbreaking memoir. Glenda Burgess has given us a remembrance of her marriage, and her husband that carries such a core of truth that it is difficult to put it down.

After a successful career with the State Department, Glenda has decided to return to the United States and start fresh. She meets a man, Ken, 13 years her senior who has already been widowed twice, his first wife died in a car accident, and his second wife was murdered in her bedroom while their toddler slept in the next room. His daughter has grown up emotionally scarred and her relationship with Ken is shaky and turbulent. With Ken's past and problems, most women would head for the hills, but Glenda had a sure belief that this could be good. Even though Ken had given up on the very idea of love, he too, managed one more leap of faith and together they built a life, a love and a wonderful family. Their faith and love would be tested in sad and painful ways, and yet, the love and devotion always manages to shine through.

This is a very sad book in many ways; it can bring you to tears at the most unexpected places. And yet it also can give you a deep sense of peace, a profound desire to have this kind of marriage, and a deep sense of gratitude if you already do. This was an ordinary happy family, and it's easy to see yourselves in the pages. Seeing how a couple can gain such strength from their relationship shows us that, perhaps we can all respond to the worst adversity possible with grace and dignity. Ken's compassion, consideration and kindness throughout the darkest of his days stand as an example to us all. The author's courage in reliving these times shows us yet another place to explore in the geography of our own lives.
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Format: Hardcover
Let me state upfront that I picked this book up in kind of a hurry, not knowing much about it, other than "early-30s woman finally finds true love with older guy (mid-40s)". So imagine my surprise when I started reading this book.

In the first third of "The Geography of Love" (310 pages), author Glenda Burgess retells how she unexpectedly found true love with Ken, a man 14 years her senior, someone who had lost two previous wives (one to a car accident, another to a (potentially suspicious) murder, of all things. It made me turn the pages, and when at one point Ken says out of the blue "I can't do this anymore", when the couple had 2 small children, I feared the worst (as in: he wants to leave the marriage). But Ken was referring to a corporate job he didn't want to do any longer.

After that, the book takes a completely unexpected turn, and where the book really takes off. Ken is discovered to have a cancer of some sort, and the second half of the book deals with how Glenda and Ken are dealing with this. This is when the book becomes a devastating read. I found myself choking back a number of times, particularly in the last 50 pages or so. Separate but simultaneously with all this, the author brings a great portrait of other family members, including in particular her challenging relationship with her mother. In all, I was very taken by this book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful, readable story that will stay with you long after it's finished. It is relevant for anyone who has ever dealt with loving, living, or living with illness. A real work of hope in a very tough situation and, for all that, it never felt like a burden to read it. Geography of Love is a hymn to our generation, relevant to others, but perfect for us.
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