Book Review: And I Shall Have Some Peace There

by Seasonal Wisdom on April 23, 2011

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Imagine one day you decide to give up the big corporate job, with a staff of 150 people, and move to a rural setting in upstate New York. Would you have the guts to leave behind the prestige and financial security? And how would it feel that first winter, when the low temperatures averaged -15 degrees F. and you suddenly found yourself with all the time in the world?

Photo copyright Erica Berger.

This is the story Margaret Roach tells in her new personal memoir, “and I shall have some peace there.”

In December 2007, at the pinnacle of her career, Margaret left her job as editorial director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in New York City. She moved to a two-story, 600 square-foot house in upstate New York, which she affectionately calls the “Little House in the Big Woods.”

Copyright Margaret Roach

Built in the 1880s, the house is “the simplest of two-story structures,” says Margaret. But with elbow grease and renovation work, the house becomes a peaceful retreat for the next chapter of her life.  As you can imagine, however, the journey isn’t easy.

“Who am I if I am not mroach @ martha stewart dot com any longer?” she asks. “Working always did provide the answer: AVP, VP, SVP, EVP, sombody meant somebody with rank and the increasing esteem and dominion.”

Copyright Margaret Roach

To steer herself through these new and confusing life changes, she recalls the advice of her former boss to “learn something new everyday.” And she begins to study the seasonal changes in her rural garden and the animals that flock to her new home.

Foxes, frogs and birds become Margaret’s teachers. And with an amazing amount of courage, she confronts an alarming number of snakes on her property, including copperheads and rattlesnacks.  She even begrudgingly befriends a cat named Jack, who brings her half-eaten treasures from the garden. Along the way, she slowly comes to peace with her new life … and learns a lot about herself in the process.

An accomplished gardener and author of A Way to Garden blog, Margaret shares interesting tidbits about animal behavior throughout the book, and when she talks about plants, it’s often rare ones like Hylomecon japonicum ephemeral “that nobody, even most experts, had ever heard of or grown.”

Copyright Erica Berger

As she survives the first year in this strange, new world, Margaret takes readers on a zany ride, complete with Zen-inspired revelations, spa therapy, animal wisdom, and powerful tractors. One can’t help but admire her courage to forge a new path for herself, and wish her well.

Disclosure: I met Margaret on Twitter, which is a story in itself about how social media is breaking down communication barriers between people with similiar interests.  Although I was provided a review copy of this book, my opinion is strictly my own.


Annie Haven/Authentic Haven Brand April 23, 2011 at 9:44 am

Love your review and peek into this lovely woman’s life. I tip my hat to her, she’s now living a bit of my life and in an odd way Moo Poo Tea has me venturing a bit into her old world : ) Thank you for the share Annie

Teresa O'Connor April 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm

That’s true, Annie. Margaret is taking on your life in the country, and you’re becoming a star of the Moo Poo Tea world. Thanks for stopping by!

Susan Morrison April 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

Nice review. Margaret has such a gamine quality about her, I love the pictures of her driving that huge, macho tractor.

Teresa O'Connor April 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Susan, Let me know what you think of the book! We’ll have a virtual book club. All the best … Teresa

Brenda L. Thompson April 24, 2011 at 12:59 am

Thank you Teresa! Margaret’s story is speaking deeply to me right now. I just ordered her book and cannot wait to read it.

Teresa O'Connor April 24, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Great Brenda. Interested in your thoughts, as you had such an idyllic childhood in the country. Thanks for stopping by! Teresa

Priscilla Prince April 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Great review! I’ve visited Margaret’s blog before and I’m inspired. If you remember, I’m moving with my husband to Idaho and it’s in a couple of weeks. It’s my dream to create a cottage garden with plenty of edibles. Please visit my latest post regarding photos of our new home and my seedlings. Thank you and have a great week!

Teresa O'Connor May 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Priscilla: Thanks for dropping by. Yes, I do remember you and your plans to move to Idaho. Best of luck to you. Your seedlings on your blog look like they are off to a great start. All the best, Teresa

edda April 30, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Just completed Margaret’s memoir. So much to love about this book: Her ‘dance’ with neighbor Herb; menopause to diapause; Jack the cat; literary allusions; nods to mythology, anthropology, physics, chemistry; respect for the power of nature…I am in awe of her depth and her independence.

Teresa O'Connor May 1, 2011 at 8:54 am

Thanks for stopping by, Edda. Glad you enjoyed the book too.

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