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.

Start Reading….

Read Excerpt Now


Sign me up to receive news about Dani Shapiro.

Place our blog button on your blog to let people know you are a member of this great program!

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

I have never read anything by Dani Shapiro before this book, and her writing style is quite different than most authors of memoirs. For one thing, she steps outside the comfort zone of distance. This is not a story seen and told with wise perspective after a lot of time has passed. Shapiro does reflect on past times, but she mentions them primarily in relation to how they affect her today. It's also interesting to see the acknowledgement that her story may not be a popular one. She mentions some of the attention and criticism she has received for her other jobs and books as well as her reactions to that criticism. But the most important reflections on Hourglass, in my opinion, are Shapiro's honesty and her focus. She writes about small things that happen daily and both positive and negative interactions with other people. She reflects on her disappointments and how hard it is to think about the future while the present is happening. But from time to time, she brings it back to why she appreciates her life as it is. This is not a fast and thrilling memoir by any means, but for those of us who like a bit of quiet reflection, Shapiro's newest book is just the thing.

It requires a certain kind of courage to bare your life on pages that will be read by thousands of readers who are unconcerned about you or your life in general. It requires a certain kind brilliance to interweave universal truths in your personal stories and make people interested in reading those stories. Dani Shapiro has shown us, time and again, through her memoirs how to do this with grace and a style that is restrained and honest. . . A writer is fuelled with words by a perpetual habit of reading. Reading, sometimes, brings us face to face with a sparkling quote and we are seized with an urge to record it in our own handwriting, write down the words on paper, in a journal, in a jot book, a record of our own. Shapiro calls this record of quotations commonplace books. She draws from her commonplace books to knit her narrative together with the wisdom of Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, Carl Jung, Adrienne Rich on time, love, marriage, partnerships and life. The interweaving of wisdom from a legacy of writers makes Hourglass an illuminating discourse on marriage—an almost commonplace book on marital life, as Shapiro intended it to be. Hourglass is meant to be absorbed with the pleasure of slowness, a concept espoused by Milan Kundera in his elegant and short fiction Slowness. Read the book in leisure and contemplate Shapiro's sheer poetic words in your hours of tranquillity. Full review: https://bookishchronicles.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/hourglass-dani-shapiro

This book is an insight of our lives as a woman.Our dreams, the partner we choose in our life, the compromises we make to live with the people we love accepting, their positive and negative behaviour towards us and much much more. Definitely recommended...

Dani Shapiro has written a beautiful book and marriage and life in general. I highly recommend it.

This was an intimate and poignant reflection on what it means to build a life with someone and what time can do to that relationship. It is also a reflection on self, both inside and outside of a marriage. Through small flashes of memories, almost like little vignettes, Dani Shapiro contemplates the joys, sorrows, and anxieties of matrimony and aging. The non-linear story telling sold me on this memoir and fully supported the notion that life is a series of happenings whose importance cannot be realized until after the fact.

This is my first introduction to Dani Shapiro and I am not disappointed. The memoir is written as more of scenes and/or vignettes which make it extremely easy to read. I am not married, but her musings could definitely be applicable to others and made me think about my parents marriage. I very much enjoyed reading this and will definitely check out other books by the author.

This book was not quite what I expected from a memoir about marriage, but was an interesting view of different points in time. I appreciated the authors honesty about what was going on in her life and how she reaches the conclusion she needs to. Thanks for the opportunity to review this book.

The words that come to mind reading Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro are nonlinear, personal, intimate, quiet, and reflective. This slim book is a reflection and commentary on marriage. This is not a memoir with a linear timeline or a plot; it is more like picking through a photo album, drifting from memory to memory until an image more expansive than the photographs themselves forms. The craft of Dani Shapiro's writing makes it feel real and heartfelt. Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2017/04/hourglass-time-memory-marriage.html. Reviewed for the Penguin First to Read program.

This was the first time I had read a book by Dani Shapiro and I enjoyed it a lot. It was a personal glimpse into the positives and negatives of life and of a marriage in particular. I liked that it was short but really told the story of Dani and M's marriage and lives including the ups and downs.

This book read like a tiny little collection of stories and happenings that open up to a glimpse into the work of Dani Shapiro's life and trials. The stories and moments were special times for her and and her husband M. Some of the moments were good and happy and some were sad and depressing. She modeled the kind of support that every wife should have for a husband and his career. Every moment wasn't perfect but she showed us how she is human and how she endured many things during her 18 year marriage. The author has a special way of providing the perfect imagery to her writing that not too many writers can provide. I liked her style.

I received this e-book through Penguin's First to Read program. I was not familiar with the author; however, the description of the book piqued my interest. I did have a hard time following parts of the book. The book was quite short; I wish the author had lengthened it a bit to expand on some of the parts that seemed "lightly touched upon". On a scale of 1-5, I rate this one a 3.

I've never read Dani Shapiro before, but I greatly enjoyed this book. It's a lovely memoir and meditation on a marriage.

As the author looks back at eighteen years of marriage, she evaluates the tragedies, health scares, and sacrifices that comprise of a marriage. Her husband, a former war correspondent, is struggling to find his footing in the screenplay business while she supplements her writing career by teaching seminars. The struggle of two writers to make a living, even as they enter middle age, takes a toll on the marriage but also highlights what they have already overcome. This is a quiet memoir, and one that anyone that has been married for years can recognize. It is short and sometimes feels as if she is stretching to find material to even fill that length, but it is beautifully written and a very honest account of marriage in the later years. I received this from Penguin's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

Hourglass by Dani Shapiro is a non-linear memoir that provides a glimpse into the writer's life from the perspective that switches between memory, the present and the endless possibilities of what could be in the future. Although sometimes it's hard to concentrate when a piece is written in paragraphs that go back and forth in time, this one wasn't like that because it so closely mirrored what life is--being in the present moment, but looking around and catching glimpses of the past in the things that surround you, whether you intended to reminisce or not. And contemplating what the future may bring, and how that changes depending on what choices you have to make that day. It is an extremely well-written look at the author's life, particularly how the journaling from her honeymoon weaves in an out of the rest of the moments in time presented.

In just 150 pages, Dani Shapiro writes a memoir that reflects on the relationships, choices and unplanned events that are the threads in her life's tapestry. It's beautifully written vignettes about memory, relationship, choices, unplanned events and who we become. What I most appreciate is how she captures the soul and concerns of a long-term relationship. She is honest. Life can be okay and not okay at the same time. There are insights, quotes, metaphors and all of those things that linger or make me stop and re-read. It's a book I will purchase and share.

This book is unique; written mostly in vignettes, it conveys Shapiro's memories and experiences not only in her eighteen year marriage, but in raising her son, losing her parents, and working alongside her husband (also a successful writer). These vignettes are heartfelt and distilled; Shapiro can convey heart-wrenching sorrow or wry wit, sometimes with just a few sentences. Because this book doesn't follow a linear structure, Shapiro sometimes loops around to the same topics or themes multiple times which can be tiresome but it is a short book and a quick, enjoyable read nonetheless.

"As I often tell my students, show me your search history and I will show you your obsessions." I received a copy of this ebook through firsttoread.com in exchange for an honest review. This book was more of 3.5 stars for me. It really picked up about a third of the way through the book. At times I found the prose a little too vague, too whimsical, but it has a more concrete narrative voice near the end. Maybe because I'm not super familiar with the author I wasn't immediately drawn into her life. It is a captivating read that has some beautiful lines and isn't a bad way to spend an afternoon.

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.


More to Explore

  • Family History
  • Black & White
  • Slow Motion

Copy the following link