She Read to Us in The Late Afternoons
This memoir takes readers around the world, from New York to Nigeria, exploring a life illuminated by novels.
On Sale: October 24, 2017
Hardcover / e-Book
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As a child in music class, Kathleen Hill comes upon Willa
Catherís Lucy Gayheart, and the novel prepares her for a
drowning death that soon occurs in her own life. Later,
recently married and working as a teacher in a newly
independent Nigeria, Hill assigns Chinua Achebeís Things Fall
Apart to her students, which leads to learning from them about
the violent legacy of colonialism, and visiting an old slave
port whose disturbing relics make her aware of her benighted
American innocence. Also in Nigeria, she is given Henry Jamesís
A Portrait of a Lady and deeply ponders her new marriage
through the lens of Isabel Archer, remembering her adolescent
fear that reading might be a way of avoiding experience.
But is it possible that the act of reading itself may be a form
of ardent, transforming experience? In this memoir, Hill
reflects on her literary lifetime, reminiscing about her year
in northern France, where she resolutely put Flaubertís Madame
Bovary aside to discover, in Bernanosís Diary of a Country
Priest, a detailed guide to the town where she was living, a
more acute perspective on the poverty and suffering hidden
within its walls. She also shares a tender account of her
friendship with writer Diana Trilling, whose failing sight
inspired a plan to read aloud Proustís Remembrance of Things
Past, an undertaking that required six years to complete.
From an author whose novel Still Waters in Niger was named a
New York Times Notable Book and a best book of the year by the
Los Angeles Times, She Read to Us in the Late Afternoons is
both a wide-ranging autobiographical journey and a deeply felt
appreciation of literature and its power to reflect our
immediate reality and open windows onto vast new worlds.
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