The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72 by Molly Peacock
Author: Molly Peacock
Genre: Non-Fiction (Memoir/Biography)
Publisher/Publication Date: Bloomsbury USA (3/29/11)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Rating: Loved -- another that will make my top 10 in 2011!
Did I finish?: Yes -- and I'm ready for a reread already!
Do I like the cover?: Yes -- especially as it features one of Mrs. Delaney's 'mosaiks'.
First line: Imagine starting your life's work at seventy-two.
Did... I walk into work every morning in raptures over this book?: YES. My commute definitely wasn't long enough.
Did... I fall in love with Molly Peacock's writing style from the first page?: YES. It's warm and funny, smart and interesting. See my teaser for a taste!
Is... this book totally awesome to hold?: YES. The hand-feel of the book is divine -- it's a compact, little hardcover that's easy to carry and tuck into a bag, with gorgeous smooth pages and divine full-color plates. It sent me into paroxysms of pleasure when it first arrived.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy. You'll want to own this book, seriously. I bought it for my mother, an aspiring artisan herself, for Mother's Day, because I thought she might find it as inspiring and moving as I did.
Why did I get this book?: I love a good biography and the setting -- 18th century -- and focus -- Mary Granville Delaney -- interested me.
Review: This marvelous book is a mix of biography and memoir, written in a beautiful, inviting style that feels as if the author is having coffee with you and sharing her latest research. Molly Peacock is a poet who conveys Mary Granville Delaney's life in lovely, lyrical detail that is educational and enjoyable.
It helps that Mary Delaney's life is captivating: in addition to being a talented artist, she was great friends with many luminaries of her day, and her eighty-eight years encompassed some incredibly exciting historical events. There are some nearly Gothic twists that would have seemed unbelievable were this not based on fact and from the first chapter I was enamored of Mary Delaney.
Those who want a 'traditional' style biography (one that doesn't hint at the researcher/writer behind the pages) will probably be shocked by this one: Molly Peacock emerges on the pages to share her own thoughts about her research, about Mrs. Delaney, and snippets of her own life. I found it delicious and seamless; like Ms Peacock, my reading usually says something about where I am in my own life and the challenges I'm working through, and it was inspiring, refreshing, and moving to read about how her research overlapped, influenced, and affected her life.
This biography was so compelling, and Mrs Delaney felt so real to me, I teared at the end; I, like Mrs. Delaney's friends, wasn't ready for her to pass away. Finishing was a bittersweet experience! I already miss Mrs. Delaney and Molly Peacock's beautiful observations on life, love, creative endeavors, hope, and finding one's true self.
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GIVEAWAY! I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Paper Garden for giveaway! Please leave your email address in the comments to win. Giveaway closes 5/13, US/CA only. Be sure to return on Wednesday for a guest post from Molly Peacock and another chance to win.