Hourglass by Dani Shapiro


Dani Shapiro

Drawing on literature, poetry, philosophy, and theology, Shapiro writes gloriously of the joys and challenges of matrimonial life, in a luminous narrative that unfurls with urgent immediacy and sharp intelligence.

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The best-selling novelist and memoirist delivers her most intimate and powerful work: a piercing, life-affirming memoir about marriage and memory, about the frailty and elasticity of our most essential bonds, and about the accretion, over time, of both sorrow and love.

Hourglass is an inquiry into how marriage is transformed by time--abraded, strengthened, shaped in miraculous and sometimes terrifying ways by accident and experience. With courage and relentless honesty, Dani Shapiro opens the door to her house, her marriage, and her heart, and invites us to witness her own marital reckoning--a reckoning in which she confronts both the life she dreamed of and the life she made, and struggles to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become.
     What are the forces that shape our most elemental bonds? How do we make lifelong commitments in the face of identities that are continuously shifting, and commit ourselves for all time when the self is so often in flux? What happens to love in the face of the unexpected, in the face of disappointment and compromise--how do we wrest beauty from imperfection, find grace in the ordinary, desire what we have rather than what we lack? Drawing on literature, poetry, philosophy, and theology, Shapiro writes gloriously of the joys and challenges of matrimonial life, in a luminous narrative that unfurls with urgent immediacy and sharp intelligence. Artful, intensely emotional work from one of our finest writers.

Advance Galley Reviews

This book is proof that everyone has storms to weather in a marriage or a long term relationship. Not everyone is so open and honest about it. It was easier to relate to her when she spoke about her family, his family, their family, his personality, her personality. It was not so easy to relate to their careers. It seemed sometimes that their happiness was contingent on whether he was "fulfilled". And he only seemed to get fulfillment from participating in dangerous activities. I'm not sure that this is a fair assessment, but it's what stood out to me. He probably isn't as shallow as he sometimes appears to be or maybe as she portrays him to be. I couldn't help wondering at the end whether they would remain together.

She is a very honest writer. I'm not sure, however, that what she shares is all that interesting to people outside of her life. A pretty, privileged existence that I found somewhat lacking in any universal truths.

An honest open real look at marriage real marriage over a long period of time.She draws back the curtains&shares her true story not a fairytale.I was immediately caught up in this emotionally true book.

A thoughtful and honest portrait which doesn't shy away from details we hesitate to share with our closest friends. The title is perfect and reminds us why we do want to say forever. I am hoping "D" will write another book soon!

I received an ARC via FirstToRead for this book, for an unbiased review. I am, admittedly, not as familiar with Shapiro's writing as many who seem to have chosen to review this book. As an avid memoir reader, and also as a "wannabe writer", I was drawn to the idea of reviewing a memoir. I was not, at all, disappointed with the choice. Throughout the book, the ideas of "what if", as well as other writing prompts that she had encountered over time, intermingling with the memories of her family and her life, really brought the book together. I can see now, that I need to make time to read more of her work. I found myself bookmarking page after page, trying to remember details from it so that I could, in the future, use them as guides for my own writing.

Someone else might be able to read this intelligent, moving book over a number of days, but I certainly couldn't. Once I began, I could not put it down - except for brief periods, and even then under protest - and I finished it in one day. It is a slim volume, but so weighted with insight and honesty that it may as well be a doorstop. The author is both brave and generous as she shares intimate moments in her life that will strike echoing chords in the hearts and minds of anyone who has been in a long relationship or who has been stunned to watch the years unfold in unexpected ways. It would be possible to look at the author and assume she has it all, and in one sense she does: beauty, talent, a handsome husband, a precocious son, a home in the New England countryside. But this book reveals that to have it all also means to have a life, and a life, over time, includes doubt, disappointment, loss, and responsibility. "Hourglass" is a book that will linger in your memory.


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