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Sunday, April 29, 2012

A lesson In Hope

In a town where everyone knows everything, the writer of this beautiful, irregular memoir came to live in a place no one knows exists. In "Still Life with Chickens" (Hudson Street Press, $21.95), Catherine Goldhammer arouses at midlife to find herself freshly separated and a few tax brackets lower, pushed by conditions to move from the wealthy New England suburb of her daughter's childhood into a fresh, less sophisticated life by the sea. Against every system of logic, partly to delight her daughter and partly for causes not clear to her at the time, she starts this year of conversion by buying six baby chickens, whose job-she comes to suspect-is to force her and her daughter ahead, out of one life and into a different. As she step by step transforms her new home-with its cheap outside but beaming soul-she discovers her gifted 12-year-old daughter blossomed into a fashionable and advanced adolescent. And as she tends to the needs of six ambiguous chickens, Goldhammer's life slowly shifts from bedlam to blessing. Beautifully composed and quietly fundamental, "Still Life with Chickens" is an unforgettable lesson in hope, in starting over and in the transcendent wisdom that can frequently be found in the most farfetched of places. The courageous, comical and heartbreaking beautiful memoir is available wherever books are sold.

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