Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

 (I’m having a hard time writing a review for this book because nothing I can say will do it justice. Please, just read the book.)

For the Triduum + Easter, I made my retreat this year by reading Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. Just as with Jayber Crow, Hannah’s story involves a great deal of reflection on scripture, but especially involves reflection over the line, “Thy will be done,” from the Lord’s Prayer.

Yet, again, it is not a book strictly about theology or faith. This is the story of a woman named Hannah Coulter, told by her as an old woman. She remembers the moments of her life, treasuring them as an old woman sitting alone in her rocking chair.

Berry’s writing is profound. Through Hannah, we experience loss, grief, and the guilt at loving again. We experience acceptance and the healing power of community.  Hannah’s thoughts and reflections over the events of her life made her the perfect companion on my Easter journey this year.

Reading Hannah Coulter was lovely for multiple reasons, not least of all hearing more stories about the characters I fell in love with in Jayber Crow. I long to enter into the books, to take part in the daily life of Port William—a place as real to its readers as the world in which we live and breathe.

Hannah’s story is that of a farm wife, a hard working woman who has known the pleasure of a well-lived life and the pain of children falling away from faith and family. Her story can touch anyone—she is so utterly relatable. I think everyone should read this book.

I give this book 5.5 stars—because 5 stars just aren’t enough.