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

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.

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.


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