Title: The Geography of Love
Author: Glenda Burgess
Publisher: Broadway Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Paperback copy from Library Thing Early Reviewers
First line: Physicists say we are made of stardust.
The Geography of Love: A Memoir is a love story – a love story that explores the depths of love and the way we are bound to the places we have lived. Burgess addresses with profound truth and tenderness the relationships that make us who we are: a child to our parents, a lover to our spouse, a parent to our children.
Glenda Burgess was in limbo when she met Ken Grunzweig. She had just left her job as an analyst for the State Department, a job with a generous salary and plenty of travel opportunities, to move back to her hometown of Spokane, Washington, hoping to settle down and have a family. She met Ken and the chemistry was instant. But Ken had a dark history – his first wife had been killed by a drunk driver, and his second wife was murdered. Years later, the murder remained unsolved, the case had grown cold, and Ken was still the primary suspect.
Glenda instinctively trusts Ken, knows that he is a good man. They fall into a passionate love and marriage, the kind of deep, unconditional love that everyone desires. Marriage and children follow, including many geographical moves, until they come back to Spokane, where everything started for them. It is here that they will face the biggest challenge of their lives – cancer.
I have had The Geography of Love on my to-be-read stack since the end of September, and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to pick up. When I finally did, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Ms. Burgess is a Spokane native, and many of the places she wrote about are familiar to me. The descriptions of the northeastern Washington winters especially resonated with me, as we’re headed for another one very soon.
Ms. Burgess is an elegant writer, and this memoir explores the landscape of relationship. She deals with the heartache of a mother-daughter relationship that has always been a disappointment. The fear that an independent woman can have when letting go and diving into a marriage. The joys of parenthood, and struggles of step-parenthood. The bone deep ache of watching a loved one suffer. I found myself engrossed in the last half of this book, picking it up again and again even though I was also reading three other books. By the time I reached the last third, all other books were forgotten, as I had to know the end of the story.
As happens with other great memoirs, I find myself wondering what has happened to Ms. Burgess and her family in the past few years since the end of the story. I am so glad that she shared her love story with the world. She is also the author of two novels, two books which are being added to my to-read list.
Ken and I lived within the small moments now, and love had become the very breath he survived on. Love flowed as a life force – as biology and mystery and time. Love had become our absolute, the gravity of the heart, with its own rules and order and unknown provenance.
Disclosure: A paperback copy of The Geography of Love: A Memoir was provided to me by Library Thing for the purpose of review. The above link is an Amazon Affiliate link. If you click on the link and then purchase anything, I receive a small percentage.