Back in July of last year, I posted an entry about Dominique Browning, the editor-in-chief of the now defunct House & Garden and how I loved her editor's letters at the beginning of each issue. A few months later the magazine stopped being published. I am surprised at the outpouring that the magazine's ending provoked. Even now, most of the hits I get on this site are from people conducting web searches for "Dominique Browning," and, in the comments to that entry, people bemoan the loss of the magazine and wonder about her whereabouts. I have never met Ms. Browning and have no idea where she might be, I just posted an entry giving kudos to a woman whom I thought admirable. But for those who never got enough of Ms. Browning's writing, I wanted to recommend this book, Around the House and in the Garden - A Memoir of Heartbreak, Healing, and Home Improvement, which I read a while ago and kept meaning to post about. It is a collection of essays written in the personal style of her editor's letters, with the same poignancy and wit, about her sense of loss after her divorce and how her home often expressed the various stages of her grief and healing. Here's a short excerpt:
I cannot say my home healed my heart. But I can say that, as my heart healed, my home reflected it. Perhaps my house forced my hand, at times, with its unrelenting demands. And perhaps at times my heart, gladdened, let me turn my attention homeward. Whatever the strange, looping path I took out of sadness, it wound its way from room to room, like a recurring dream I had as a child, in which I kept lo looking for something in a cavernous, empty old house, never finding it, but never being able to stop the ceaseless searching, either. Maybe my subject is yearning; maybe that's the case for most of us. We yearn to live in houses full of love, happiness, passion, and peace, too. We yearn for domestic bliss. Even when we have found it, we are restless about wanting things to be better. As soon as we get what we want, we want more. That's the nature of being alive, of persevering, of striving. And that is the nature of redecorating.