Anne-Marie Oomen uses a wealth of vivid language and personal details to bring scenes from her childhood on a family farm to life in House of Fields. Yet the focus of this book shifts away from the daily activities of the farm, which Oomen presented in Pulling Down the Barn, to life outside its boundaries, as she explores the complex meaning of "education" in all of its rural forms. Oomen's description of the farmhouse where she grew up becomes the central image for this collection of essays. Within this context, Oomen examines memories from her formal education, which began during the final years of the one-room school era then shifted to the "consolidated" schools of the late 1950s and 1960s and to a parochial school system. Struggles with reading, first friendships, early loves, and contradictory educational models are coupled with the challenges of coming of age and the ups and downs of an emotional education between mother and daughter.
Winner of the Michigan Notable Book Awards. The book is published by Wayne State University Press.
"Anne-Marie Oomen brings not only the past, its people and domestic mythologies, to life in this brilliant book, but she brings life to the landscape, the seasons, and the very walls that contained them. A kind of travelogue of the spirit and an ode to the miracle of memory, this is memoir to the highest power." (Laura Kasischke, author of The Life Before Her Eyes and Suspicious River)
"In House of Fields, every moment is considered, consistent, built in the way that the old Dutch masters built their paintings: layer by layer, achieving, at last, a luminous warmth found only in glimpses during the course of our daily lives." (A. Manette Ansay, author of Vinegar Hill and Limbo)
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A Rural Education
This audiobook started off a little slow for me (except for the chicken coop, dynamite story), I was pleased when the narrator transitioned to the educational/schooling aspect of the story-that is when I felt the story became more interesting and personally relevant. I thought the author did a great job describing what it feels like for a kid who is struggling to read in the midst of those who seem to take it for granted (I know because I experienced the same thing, although admittedly under very different conditions; people and circumstances may change, but some experiences are universal, apparently). At any rate, I enjoyed this audiobook because the author/ narrator did a good job transporting me to a place and time that was very different from what I experienced, yet which I could also relate to.
I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review.