An author chronicles her life of love and happiness spent on farms in West Virginia.
Scarff was born in a two-room house on her grandfather’s farm in 1936. “As I have said in many ways,” she writes, “love was a big part of my life. I experienced it from all directions.” From playing in fields with her siblings to constant adoration of her parents, Scarff paints her childhood as nothing short of idyllic. She fills pages with the excitement of changing times and stories of mischief set throughout West Virginia. Although Scarff never articulates dissatisfaction with her quiet, enjoyable country living, she does display a sense of assertiveness and curiosity. These qualities led her to marry Carlo Martini, an older, exciting man who became the father of her first three children through adoption. However, the age difference affected their relationship; Scarff divorced Martini and became a teacher. She later met Jim, also divorced and a parent of children in her class. They married and blended a large, loving family of seven children. No life is completely charmed, however, and Scarff details struggles with illness and heartache—most notably her father’s encounter with electroshock therapy—but what drives this memoir is the author’s joy-filled life. She constructs her book from stray observations and even a short collection of poems treating her love for God and nature with simple, sweet rhymes like “Clouds”: “Which of those gliding across the sky / Could be the one in our Savior’s eye?” This structure tends to reduce the most complex situations and expand on seemingly insignificant details. For example, her thoughts on divorcing Carlo are brief and sudden, but she supplies a relatively lengthy reminiscence of the family’s 4-wheel-drive Bronco. Many readers might wish for a more sustained narrative that delves deeper into the drama and tension present in any life, but those who can appreciate a lighthearted conversation with a wise woman who wants to focus on the joys she has experienced will find her positive attitude infectious.
A memoir with an often refreshingly upbeat perspective on life presented in lieu of tension or drama.