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June 27, 2008

Book to Discuss: The Geography of Love

Posted by carol
From time to time I am going to use this space to write about books I have read that I think would make for great discussions. Some of them may not be published yet since I read advance copies of many titles; but because my best thoughts often come as soon as I close a book, I will write as I finish them and if they are not published yet I will include a notation of when the book will be in stores. Thus keep your "Books to Be Read" list handy so you can make notes.

Last Saturday I spent the entire day either swinging in the hammock or floating in the pool reading The Geography of Love, a memoir by Glenda Burgess, which will be in stores on August 5th. From the first page, I could not stop reading. Her words grabbed me, pulled me in and from there the story consumed me. I love books like this.

It's memoir that is a wonderful love story. We all know that falling in love can be powerful and consuming, but in the throes of passion we often forget how great love also carries risk. Love brings us immense joy but also makes us vulnerable. That's the other side of love.

The story goes like this. In 1988 Glenda, at age 31, fell in love with Ken, a man 13 years her senior. He had lost his first wife to a tragic car accident and his second wife to a murderer. Both of these events brought scars, but somehow the emotion between Glenda and Ken brought alive feelings of both love and laughter --- and great romance.

They married, had two children and a wonderful life for 15 years, until a shadow on Ken's lung changed everything. What happens after this is a very special love story that is more courageous and beautiful than the idyllic one that came before.

It's so well written. Burgess has a way with words that has sentences flowing cinematically. She crystallizes emotion. She makes a reader feel both joy and sadness. Her courage --- and the way that she handled the hand that is dealt her is inspiring. Yes, I did my fair share of crying while reading it. Burgess and I are very close in age thus I could very much relate to where she was as a woman as this story unfolded.

As I closed it I wanted to talk about it. I ended up writing a very long note to the publisher who had shared it with me. I can see groups talking about this one for hours, everything from their own stories of falling in love to coping with grave illness to the risk that love brings --- and is it worth it.

Most of us --- probably all of us --- have suffered the illness and loss of someone we love. Some of us have handled it better than others. Reading this you will read a roadmap of how one woman had her love steer the course through everything that came in her path. She navigated a tough course courageously. There are lessons to be learned here on caregiving love well, as much as there are stories on how to honor someone heroically when they are facing their biggest challenge.

I loved it. I would love to talk about it.

Make a note to drop me an email or post a comment here after you read it. I am very curious as to what you will say about it.

---Carol Fitzgerald