Beth Powning: The Hatbox Letters

Worth my time This is perhaps the worst book I ve ever read I struggled to get through it and was oh so happy to finally reach the end I gave it one star only for the portion of the story relating to Giles Jonnie and Hetty That was the only redeeming part of the whole book Kate s endless self pity went from boring to ust plain annoying I can safely say I will not be reading any books by this author I feel paroled Christovs Testament just by having completed it Oh dear Another book written in the present tense though I didn t find that as annoying in this one as I did in The Nine Lives Of Charlotte Taylor The narrator spends a lot of time reminiscing about the past which gives her plenty of opportunity to switch into the past tense so I guess that made it easier to read And somehow the present tense seems to fit this story better giving a feeling that there is no past or futureust the interminable nowThe title refers to nine old fashioned hatboxes found in Kate s grandparents house and filled with old letters pictures receipts invoices ticket stubs etc They have been in the attic for years but now her siblings want her to sort through them and decide what to do with them Recently widowed and grieving she finds little else to interest her and so begins to put together the pieces of her family s history from the old documents and lots of imaginationI found the book well written but the story slow getting started In the first two or three chapters there was little about the letters and much about the loss she has suffered and how it has changed her And for me it was a bit heavy on similes and metaphors in the early chapters There were so many of them they began to get in the way Fortunately the tempo picked up and I got caught up in the story both stories actually past and presentThe sections dealing with Kate s grandparents lives were great but very little of it came from the letters she found It s all fictional of course so Powning could have said anything in the letters but instead she wrote most of the grandparents story from Kate s imaginings She imagines them responding to a situation in one way or another or she pictures them going here or there or saying certain things It made it all a bit hard to believe for me And even though it is fiction the goal should still be to tell a convincing storyThe present day story of Kate dealing with the death of her husband and trying to figure out her place in the world now as a single woman is insightful and compassionate but sometimes heavy and difficult to wade throughThe title doesn t really give an accurate idea of what the book is about There are hat boxes and there are letters but what the book is really about is dealing with grief That s the main story And ust as I found it slow to start once I got within a chapter or two of the end I found myself getting bogged down again I kept checking to see how much was left to readSo I m conflicted on this one When I read this over it sounds like I didn t like it much and it s true I think it s weak in a few areas but I still have to say. The remnants of her family’s past She’s having enough trouble going through Tom’s things Soon though the smell of the hatboxes of her grandparents’ musty attic of old uilts and satin ribbons begins to permeate the air in her home and “awakens a feeling in Kate that she remembers from childhood composed of odd emotional strands love sorrow pain contentment” As she slowly sorts through the letters diaries and photographs Kate begins to find some solace in the past in her childhood memories of Shepton when every home was a comfort every relationship untinged by pain But the further she delves into her grandparents’ history the Kate realizes that her perfect world had its own dark side an undercurrent of tragedy personal loss and eternal griefThen an

This is a difficult review Beth Powning has talent Observation of little things is keen To overcome loneliness and loss depression is expected She sharply notices doing this that alone for the first time When did you last kiss last words Unfortunately there s no break This protagonist doesn t interact with anyone for several chapters Even her cat is insultingly unnamed a mere background considering the anchor she must be Monologues drag the novel down I pushed to continue The contradiction we eventually get to unusual storytelling style in an embedded threadHatboxes with centuries old receipts etc reveal poignant things about her Grandparents The house everyone knew intimately becomes a warm character When narration gives over to memories there depressiveness ceases and we like the book The outstanding part is in her young Grandfather s letters The protagonist fills in everything that must have happened using imagination and this style is gripping Whenever she continues with the letters the storytelling is as tangible as a movie I picture looking at someone through a hospital door figuring out what s going on without sound Much later the protagonist begins an unrelated adventure that drives the novel tooThe author relates well to gardeners metaphors are gorgeous and sentences absolutely poetic However to occur than a couple of times on a page is cumbersome Heavy flowery description goes into nearly each sentence Worse the author pairs every motion with that descriptiveness getting a glass of water drawing a curtain to look at the river Let readers assume basic actions like Canadian Lyn Hamilton Be sparing with solitude scenes and we don t bury the secondary story that is really worth hearing A beautiful story that follows the life of Kate Harding as she attempts to redefine herself after the shocking loss of her husbandFrom dust acketKate 52 is about to face her second winter since the untimely death of her husband Her children now grown are living away and in her rambling Victorian house in semi rural New Brunswick she is truly alone In her living room are several hatboxes filled with letters and other ghostly ephemera recently brought by her sister from the attic of their grandparents 18th century Connecticut house They make Kate dream of her childhood and of her beloved grandparents in whose world she experienced a sense of permanence and acceptance that she also felt recently with her husband As she begins to read the hatbox letters she discovers that what to a child seemed a serene and blissful marriage was in fact founded on a tragic event As Kate s eyes clear to the truth of the past a new tragedy unfolds and Kate s own house surrounded by heirloom gardens and the gentle sounds of a river becomes the refuge where Kate can connect the strands of her unravelled life I only got about half way Unbelievable use of adjectives all over the place in terms of plot Sometimes I thought we were going to be able to explore a relationship or idea and off she d go again I had high hopes for this but it ust isn Beth Powning offers readers an unforgettable story of love grief and renewal both past and present as well as her extraordinary perceptions of the natural world At the age of fifty two Kate Harding has hit a crossroads the pain that overwhelmed her when her husband died suddenly from a heart attack the previous year hasn’t diminished and she is at a loss as to how to go on with her life Living alone in her large Victorian house its emptiness magnified by memories of better days Kate can only dream of a time when her grief will abate at least enough to allow her to hope for change When Kate’s sister drops off nine antiue hatboxes of papers recovered from Shepton their grandparents’ eighteenth century home in Connecticut Kate isn’t sure she is ready to face.

( READ The Hatbox Letters ) AUTHOR Beth Powning –

Beth Powning Ð 2 Summary

It s a very good read and I d be open to reading of her writing I do think you ll find it worth the time you ll invest in it The Hatbox letters had the bones to be a good book but I found it to be weighed down with paragraphs of descriptionThe storyline was about a 50 yr old woman who suffered the loss of her partner in a sudden and untimely manner She had ust received a number of old hatboxes full of letters and photos They had come from the estate of her grandparents where she had spent a lot of time as a childThis book could have flourished with a little less is I am a huge fan of New Brunswick author Beth Powning but this was definitely not one of my favorites Main protagonist Kate sits in her New Brunswick Canada home and sorts through a new life as a young widow Her grown children have lives of their own now and so most of her time is spent tending the garden that she and husband Tom created together In the midst of all this an old acuaintance re enters her life and a series of letters gives her insight into her grandparent s courtship Although the premise was interesting the writing is weighted down with descriptions on every task and surrounding and it takes awhile for the Hatbox letters to really take hold of the story Also Beth Powning uses a techniue of Kate imagining the scenes from the letters and her grandfather s ournal that were transitioned in a very funny way that I didn t really enjoy However I still maintain that Powning s The Sea Captain s Wife is one of my favorite Canadian novels Goodreads review published 230320 A new widow faces life without her spouse and discovers family history in the letters Lush descriptions interesting discoveries Even though everyone s experience of dealing with a spouse s death is different the author describes feelings well as though from a first hand perspective I was disappointed The Varadero y Habana Maravillosa jacket review and indeed the title of the book allude to the focus of the story being about a mystery surrounding the letters stored in the hatboxes I got to chapter 5 and wondered when the story was going to start The book did mention the letters but with no conseuence than if it was describing the birds singing after a morning shower It was too boring to continue reading Oh my It s very rare that I don t finish a book but Iust couldn t get past about the first 50 pages The pace is so slow movIng that it is ust plain dull Everything single step in the preparation of dinner for example is detailed and every single plant in her garden described Early on we read that Kate thinking about the contents of the hatbox feels a searing stab of anticipated happiness looking forward to going through the pictures and letters but does she No First she goes to the beach then sits looking out the window The next day she goes to the farmers market By the time I couldn t stand it any she had only pulled out two photos and a death certificate Too boring Wouldn t you want to spend hours going through letters upon letters rather than pulling out a picture one day and an envelope the next. Ld acuaintance moves back to New Brunswick and Kate begins to edge out of her solitude surprising herself by accepting his invitation to dinner Gregory and his wife were friends with Tom and Kate when the kids were young a time of camping trips and days at the beach But Gregory now divorced is also carrying the weight of grief from the suicide of his son many years earlier At first Gregory represents a chance for Kate to capture some of the simple oy of her past but when she realizes that Gregory is still living in it his memories and pain warped into self destructive anger she knows she has to back away And when Gregory’s determination to return to the way things were proves unshakeable a new tragedy forces Kate to begin picking up the pieces of her shattered life.

Beth Powning was born in Hampton Connecticut She attended EO Smith High School and Sarah Lawrence College where she majored in creative writing Powning moved to New Brunswick Canada in 1970Powning's work has been widely published in books anthologies and magazines She is known for her lyrical powerful writing and the profound emotional honesty of her work Her latest novel A Measure