The editor-in-chief of House and Garden revises and expands on columns she wrote for H&G to chronicle her spiritual and material evolution post-divorce in terms of her changing relationship with her house.
This is the story of the end of a home and the halting, unhappy, but forward-moving steps toward building a new one while living in the old one. Many of the short chapters still have the stand-alone feel of magazine columns, but they are held together by context. After a good stretch of being paralyzed by the emotions roused by her divorce, Browning sets about looking—from a new perspective—at her home and garden and how she lives in them. She writes about what each room means to her thoughtfully, clearly, and with an honesty that makes the reader's ears prick up. She wants the house to bring her and her two sons pleasure and happiness—not the kind that a well-heeled mom can buy, but the kind that must be discovered: of putting a big old sofa in the kitchen (when Browning notes that a good couch is hard to find, it has all the ache of a country-and-western song), of allowing sufficient time to unwind in the bathroom, of weeding and pruning, of getting on with the project at hand. Her humor, though black, is like a deep breath of air. When she calls an exterminator about a problem with flies, he says, “All you need to do is find the dead thing and get rid of it. Then the flies will disappear. They're maggots, by the way.”
Uncontrived and self-revealing, spiced by a screw-the-experts attitude, Browning's words feel genuine and hard-won, just like her story.