web site hit counter A Map of the World - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

A Map of the World

Availability: Ready to download

One unremarkable June morning, Alice Goodwin is, as usual, trying to keep in check both her temper and her tendency to blame herself for her family's shortcomings. When the Goodwins took over the last dairy farm in the small Midwestern town of Prairie Center, they envisioned their home a self-made paradise. But these days, as Alice is all too aware, her elder daughter Emma One unremarkable June morning, Alice Goodwin is, as usual, trying to keep in check both her temper and her tendency to blame herself for her family's shortcomings. When the Goodwins took over the last dairy farm in the small Midwestern town of Prairie Center, they envisioned their home a self-made paradise. But these days, as Alice is all too aware, her elder daughter Emma is prone to inexplicable fits of rage, her husband Howard distrusts her maternal competence, and Prairie Center's tight-knit suburban community shows no signs of warming to "those hippies who think they can run a farm." A loner by nature, Alice is torn between a yearning for solitude coupled with a deep need to be at the center of a perfect family. On this particular day, Emma has started the morning with a violent tantrum, her little sister Claire is eating pennies, and it is Alice's turn to watch her neighbor's two small girls as well as her own. She absentmindedly steals a minute alone that quickly becomes ten: time enough for a devastating accident to occur. Her neighbor's daughter Lizzy drowns in the farm's pond, and Alice - whose own volatility and unmasked directness keep her on the outskirts of acceptance - becomes the perfect scapegoat. At the same time, a seemingly trivial incident from Alice's past resurfaces and takes on gigantic proportions, leading the Goodwins far from Lizzy's death into a maze of guilt and doubt culminating in a harrowing court trial and the family's shattering downfall.


Compare

One unremarkable June morning, Alice Goodwin is, as usual, trying to keep in check both her temper and her tendency to blame herself for her family's shortcomings. When the Goodwins took over the last dairy farm in the small Midwestern town of Prairie Center, they envisioned their home a self-made paradise. But these days, as Alice is all too aware, her elder daughter Emma One unremarkable June morning, Alice Goodwin is, as usual, trying to keep in check both her temper and her tendency to blame herself for her family's shortcomings. When the Goodwins took over the last dairy farm in the small Midwestern town of Prairie Center, they envisioned their home a self-made paradise. But these days, as Alice is all too aware, her elder daughter Emma is prone to inexplicable fits of rage, her husband Howard distrusts her maternal competence, and Prairie Center's tight-knit suburban community shows no signs of warming to "those hippies who think they can run a farm." A loner by nature, Alice is torn between a yearning for solitude coupled with a deep need to be at the center of a perfect family. On this particular day, Emma has started the morning with a violent tantrum, her little sister Claire is eating pennies, and it is Alice's turn to watch her neighbor's two small girls as well as her own. She absentmindedly steals a minute alone that quickly becomes ten: time enough for a devastating accident to occur. Her neighbor's daughter Lizzy drowns in the farm's pond, and Alice - whose own volatility and unmasked directness keep her on the outskirts of acceptance - becomes the perfect scapegoat. At the same time, a seemingly trivial incident from Alice's past resurfaces and takes on gigantic proportions, leading the Goodwins far from Lizzy's death into a maze of guilt and doubt culminating in a harrowing court trial and the family's shattering downfall.

30 review for A Map of the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    Dear God, the exercise in bleakness that was "A Map of the World" - what possible point was there in forcing us through the baby-drowning, the molestation accusations, time in jail, and so on? In the words of Dorothy Parker, a book that should be flung away with great force. Dear God, the exercise in bleakness that was "A Map of the World" - what possible point was there in forcing us through the baby-drowning, the molestation accusations, time in jail, and so on? In the words of Dorothy Parker, a book that should be flung away with great force.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Review contains some spoilers... This book was well written, however it was terribly depressing. It is about a mother's worst nightmare. A child she is watching for her best friend drowns in her lake while she is distracted. Then she falls into a terrible depression/guilt and in the midst of all that she is accused by a student at the school where she is a nurse of abusing him. For some crazy reason, despite complaining regularly to Per about it, I struggled through the whole thing. I just couldn Review contains some spoilers... This book was well written, however it was terribly depressing. It is about a mother's worst nightmare. A child she is watching for her best friend drowns in her lake while she is distracted. Then she falls into a terrible depression/guilt and in the midst of all that she is accused by a student at the school where she is a nurse of abusing him. For some crazy reason, despite complaining regularly to Per about it, I struggled through the whole thing. I just couldn't get myself to put it down. The characters were compelling (even if I didn't like them much!) And the prose was well written. But honestly it felt like watching a train wreck, knowing I should look away, but continuing to look. It is about how misunderstood we all can be and how much we can misunderstand even those we love most, during emotional crises. It was so sad to me how little commitment to each other and how little faith this couple had in each other. And the same held true for the protagonists best friend. I kept hoping that there would be some strong redeeming message or action...nope! I pray nothing of this magnitude of tragedy ever befalls anyone I know. And I also pray that if it does that I will be a better friend and wife than is portrayed in this book. I can't wait to pick up a very light, uplifting book next.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I finished this book only becuase I had started it. I am not going to pass this on to anyone as I would not recommend it. Although I liked the story I did not like the writing style. I found the narrative wordy and found myself skipping over paragraphs that didn't advance the story. Also, the story was a bit harsh - the people on the subdivision were made out to be mindless drones, "everyone" was against Alice - too black and white. When I finished the book I read the paragraph about the author an I finished this book only becuase I had started it. I am not going to pass this on to anyone as I would not recommend it. Although I liked the story I did not like the writing style. I found the narrative wordy and found myself skipping over paragraphs that didn't advance the story. Also, the story was a bit harsh - the people on the subdivision were made out to be mindless drones, "everyone" was against Alice - too black and white. When I finished the book I read the paragraph about the author and wasn't surprised to see that it is from the same author as The Book of Ruth - another book I didn't care for. I have to stop picking up books just because they have Oprah's Book Club writtin on the cover.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    Alice and Howard Goodwin own the last dairy farm in Prairie Center, WI, and have two young daughters. On a particularly stressful summer morning, Alice is babysitting for her best friend's daughters who have come to play when one wanders off and falls into their pond and is later declared brain dead. Everyone is terribly devastated but Alice blames herself and falls into a deep depression, barely able to function or care for her family. In the midst of this, police begin questioning Alice about Alice and Howard Goodwin own the last dairy farm in Prairie Center, WI, and have two young daughters. On a particularly stressful summer morning, Alice is babysitting for her best friend's daughters who have come to play when one wanders off and falls into their pond and is later declared brain dead. Everyone is terribly devastated but Alice blames herself and falls into a deep depression, barely able to function or care for her family. In the midst of this, police begin questioning Alice about her job as school nurse, in particular about one very difficult 5-year-old boy who is quite often sick. Alice is ashamed to remember that she once slapped the boy out of frustration at his behavior and in her emotional funk, she runs off yelling "I hurt everyone!" Taking that as an admission of guilt of sexual abuse, Alice is arrested and a high bail is set, which Howard cannot afford to pay. The community shuns him and the children so he must try to hold everything together on his own. The pov of the story alternates between Alice and Howard, which is quite effective, letting us understand each one's innermost thoughts and feelings and how they deal with these crises in their lives. What a powerful and devastating story which illustrates how quickly a good life can fall apart. Highly recommended for those who enjoy books like A Thousand Acres. #book-vipers-book-hunter-challenge: MAP #dusty-bookshelf-reads

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    So I'm not a huge fan of Oprah (or even a little one), but she sure knows how to pick a good book. Jane Hamilton is an author from (and still living in) Wisconsin where this book takes place. (Turns out her son just graduated from Lawrence this past year!) Anyway... the book is about a woman whose life turns upside down in a matter of weeks. It is seriously some of the best prose I have read in a long time. The first and third parts of the book are written from the main character's perspective a So I'm not a huge fan of Oprah (or even a little one), but she sure knows how to pick a good book. Jane Hamilton is an author from (and still living in) Wisconsin where this book takes place. (Turns out her son just graduated from Lawrence this past year!) Anyway... the book is about a woman whose life turns upside down in a matter of weeks. It is seriously some of the best prose I have read in a long time. The first and third parts of the book are written from the main character's perspective and the middle part is written from her husband's perspective. This was an interesting approach which I have never seen before (and really enjoyed). While the book is certainly no pick-me-upper, it made me feel such real and intense emotions I honestly felt my heart aching at times.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rahma Krambo

    The most outstanding thing about this books is the 'voice'. It's written in first person, mostly from the female POV, but there's a well done section from the voice of her husband. As a writer, I know how difficult first person POV is, which makes me doubly appreciate Jane Hamilton's skill. The characters are the most well developed I've read in a long time. No cardboard, run-of-the-mill people. The story is emotionally intense and can be hard to read for some people. It might have been depressi The most outstanding thing about this books is the 'voice'. It's written in first person, mostly from the female POV, but there's a well done section from the voice of her husband. As a writer, I know how difficult first person POV is, which makes me doubly appreciate Jane Hamilton's skill. The characters are the most well developed I've read in a long time. No cardboard, run-of-the-mill people. The story is emotionally intense and can be hard to read for some people. It might have been depressing if the writing had been mediocre, but the author's exploration of the character's mental state is brilliant. I'm afraid my review will be too general to be of much help because it's hard to talk about the book without spoilers. If you are a writer and want to study an incredible first person voice and brilliant writing, I recommended this book highly. I'd give it ten stars if they'd let me and I'm a very critical reader. A book has to squeeze even five stars out of me. If you enjoy great writing and are hungry for something more than light reading, give A Map of the World a try.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I am fascinated by the concept of how a small error or mistake can change your life entirely. It was also why I enjoyed House Of Sand And Fog. The circumstances are tragic in both of these books, yet it does make me wonder how a small misstep or error in judgement can result in so much going wrong. The error in judgement by the main character here is something I have done, yet the results were not tragic by some turn of fate. It has also happened to people around me and makes you so thankful tha I am fascinated by the concept of how a small error or mistake can change your life entirely. It was also why I enjoyed House Of Sand And Fog. The circumstances are tragic in both of these books, yet it does make me wonder how a small misstep or error in judgement can result in so much going wrong. The error in judgement by the main character here is something I have done, yet the results were not tragic by some turn of fate. It has also happened to people around me and makes you so thankful that what could have happened did not. The havoc that the one mistake wreaks for everyone in this book makes your heart ache. I passed this book along to a friend awhile back and she returned it to me, saying that given the subject matter, she couldn't bear to read it. I understand that and yet, found that it irritated me somehow. I find reading about feared/terrible events helps me work them out in my head. I don't read books about horrible things because I want them to happen or even think that they will happen. Terrible things happen to people all the time and I feel that if I can read about it maybe I'll be more prepared when it does. Is that screwed-up thinking? At any rate, I did enjoy the book, enjoyed the writing of Ms. Hamilton and felt for her, her family and the family of the child. The way she writes is also the attraction, the ability of some authors to just beautifully string together words.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    As I began reading this book, I thought I would really enjoy it because the writing is wonderful and the story (a farm family trying to make it work as suburbia grows up around them, then the tragic drowning of a little girl in their pond) seemed good too. However, it started out as one story and transformed into a different one (the wife, a school nurse, accused of abuse by a student and the ensuing challenges) and I didn't see the point in the change. The last 1/3 of the book was almost drudge As I began reading this book, I thought I would really enjoy it because the writing is wonderful and the story (a farm family trying to make it work as suburbia grows up around them, then the tragic drowning of a little girl in their pond) seemed good too. However, it started out as one story and transformed into a different one (the wife, a school nurse, accused of abuse by a student and the ensuing challenges) and I didn't see the point in the change. The last 1/3 of the book was almost drudgery to get through, but I kept hoping to find a point...one never appeared.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Hernandez

    Whether you love this book or not will depend upon a couple of things, one of them being whether you can tolerate being emotionally consumed by the plot and characters, even when the subject matter of each is heartwrenching. This is a painful book to read, but I give it five stars because I think the writer did a beautiful job of telling this painful story,and it happens to be a story that resonates with some of my worst fears. I suppose for me it fell into a category of book that lets me experi Whether you love this book or not will depend upon a couple of things, one of them being whether you can tolerate being emotionally consumed by the plot and characters, even when the subject matter of each is heartwrenching. This is a painful book to read, but I give it five stars because I think the writer did a beautiful job of telling this painful story,and it happens to be a story that resonates with some of my worst fears. I suppose for me it fell into a category of book that lets me experience some of my worst fears realized through fiction, which will a) either dispel my fears by having lived through the vicarious experience, or b) through the vicarious experience better prepare me for any reality in which my worst fears might be realized. I felt love for all of the characters, though I didn't always agree with their actions or responses. I think in this the book was unique as well. It forced me to consider the perspective of each of the main characters, and to put myself into their shoes, which in turn made me more accepting and less judgmental. I think this is a great value to the book as well. It was a reminder to me that people are often struggling with something beneath the surface, and that if we were to remember this truth we might be more loving and tender in our approach and assessment of people in general. I loved this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shira Karp

    I read this book a few years ago, but I still remember vividly how much it moved me. This was one of those books that I just couldn't stop thinking about for weeks after I read it and when I turned the last page I knew it was one of those books that's impossible to follow, so I shouldn't bother to try reading a book I'm expecting to be really good after it. Point in case- I don't even remember what it was I read right after this book. I read this book a few years ago, but I still remember vividly how much it moved me. This was one of those books that I just couldn't stop thinking about for weeks after I read it and when I turned the last page I knew it was one of those books that's impossible to follow, so I shouldn't bother to try reading a book I'm expecting to be really good after it. Point in case- I don't even remember what it was I read right after this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charissa

    There is hardly anything more depressing than this story. I just couldn't face it in the end. Call me wacky, but I just didn't need to wade into a tale about three unhappy people, two of whom are having an affair, another of whom accidentally allows the other's child to drown in her creek and then goes to prison for it. Bleak? Just slightly. I understand that Sigourney Weaver played the prison woman in the film of the book. Appropriate. Her pinched, gaunt appearance was perfect for the way this There is hardly anything more depressing than this story. I just couldn't face it in the end. Call me wacky, but I just didn't need to wade into a tale about three unhappy people, two of whom are having an affair, another of whom accidentally allows the other's child to drown in her creek and then goes to prison for it. Bleak? Just slightly. I understand that Sigourney Weaver played the prison woman in the film of the book. Appropriate. Her pinched, gaunt appearance was perfect for the way this book feels. Why is it that depressing tomes like this always get the acclaim? I suppose it deals with moral ambiguity. But don't people get enough of horrendous events in their real lives? Do they really need to soak in fictional misery as well? I dunno... Perhaps I've just had my fill of pointless, horrifying events that happen to regular folk. If you're going to paint me a desolate portrait, give it two heads and a donkey offspring or something. kthnxbye.

  12. 4 out of 5

    AJ

    This book follows a woman named Alice who grew up a bit lost, unbalanced and in need of a compass in life. Having lost her own mother at a young age and brought up by a friend of the family, Alice has difficulties making connections between actions and consequences, thinking that few things in her life have or will ever make sense. She marries Howard, her opposite, who is calm, stable and quiet, a dairy farmer. Alice finds that she is at her happiest living in the farm house with her husband and This book follows a woman named Alice who grew up a bit lost, unbalanced and in need of a compass in life. Having lost her own mother at a young age and brought up by a friend of the family, Alice has difficulties making connections between actions and consequences, thinking that few things in her life have or will ever make sense. She marries Howard, her opposite, who is calm, stable and quiet, a dairy farmer. Alice finds that she is at her happiest living in the farm house with her husband and two children. However, under the surface she hasn't made peace with her past, and as events in her life eventually unravel, she comes to the point where she can't pretend any longer. This book explores how people change under pressure, when their lives spiral out of control. It also explores forgiveness of self and others. In the end, a twist in the story occurs, allowing Alice a means of absolving her guilt. However, the story is not predictable, easy or moralistic. It is raw and believable, and Hamilton peels back the layers slowly so the reader can make their own connections. I would reccomend this book because of its honesty and grittiness.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel M

    I don't really know what to say about this book now. Will I remember it a year from now? Not sure. But it did keep me reading. Throughout the story, Alice and Howard were both given their own voices, but were also spoken about by each other. It surprised me that seeing Alice from inside her head was much different from seeing her through Howard's eyes. He saw her self-assurance and strength of personality, her unique individuality, while she saw her klutziness and inability to get things right. I don't really know what to say about this book now. Will I remember it a year from now? Not sure. But it did keep me reading. Throughout the story, Alice and Howard were both given their own voices, but were also spoken about by each other. It surprised me that seeing Alice from inside her head was much different from seeing her through Howard's eyes. He saw her self-assurance and strength of personality, her unique individuality, while she saw her klutziness and inability to get things right. She saw him as being steady, reliable, consistent, whereas from inside he viewed himself as weak, full of doubts. You wouldn't have known Alice's version of Howard from his own... or vice versa. Apart from the tragedy that stirs the plot, it was a good study of perspectives. At times I could feel the tenderness and love this couple had for each other - at times I was disappointed at how limited their knowledge and understanding of each other really was. It made me question how well it is really possible for us to know others. Do we ever get the full picture, or do we only get a bare skeleton of qualities, behaviors, communicated thoughts? Is what we see the true image or the caricature? Who sees us better: ourselves from inside, or others from outside? Was Howard's version of Alice more or less correct than her own self image?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aneesah

    A map of the world is absolutely enthralling. Though many opinionated it a series of misfortune befalling Alice, I would depict it quite the opposite. Alice and Howard living in one of the last dairy farm with their two children did not predict or even prepare for how precarious safety turned their lives. Alice, having to deal with one despair was again snarled with another, which I believe helped her to get through the other. It is a story of how a family recovers and friendship sustains. Every A map of the world is absolutely enthralling. Though many opinionated it a series of misfortune befalling Alice, I would depict it quite the opposite. Alice and Howard living in one of the last dairy farm with their two children did not predict or even prepare for how precarious safety turned their lives. Alice, having to deal with one despair was again snarled with another, which I believe helped her to get through the other. It is a story of how a family recovers and friendship sustains. Every character was narrated with such complicity by Jane Hamilton. Jane, remarkably makes you dance, squirm, twists, tear, and shiver with her words. I love her prose, leaving no minute details behind. Every scene placidly described, every line of hers lingers on your mind. I believe Jane is one of the few writers that are able to pen down a life saga so sensibly that you might find hard to believe that is it just a novel. As for me, it is more than just a book. Jane has become one my most favorite writer. Map of the World is a must read novel for its astounding story unified with Jane’s talent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Paschen

    I first read this when Emma was four years old, or thereabouts. It gave me nightmares, panic attics, the shakes. It is pretty much every mother's nightmare, every marriage's nightmare, every best friend's nightmare, all rolled into one. Much later when Emma was old enough to swim (I think she was in high school and on the swim team at the time) I re-read this and was able to separate myself enough from the terror and the loss that it was a much better and less sleep-depriving read. One of my favor I first read this when Emma was four years old, or thereabouts. It gave me nightmares, panic attics, the shakes. It is pretty much every mother's nightmare, every marriage's nightmare, every best friend's nightmare, all rolled into one. Much later when Emma was old enough to swim (I think she was in high school and on the swim team at the time) I re-read this and was able to separate myself enough from the terror and the loss that it was a much better and less sleep-depriving read. One of my favorites, now that the girls are all grown up.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    At the time I read this I had small kids and had a close friend with kids the same ages. I could see something like this happening so easily and it scared me, not only about losing a child, but losing a close friendship because of losing a child-- either yours or theirs. And losing that friend just when you need her the most!! OH-- the pain!! A double loss! This was a well-written engrossing book. Deeply moving. I love Jane Hamilton's style. At the time I read this I had small kids and had a close friend with kids the same ages. I could see something like this happening so easily and it scared me, not only about losing a child, but losing a close friendship because of losing a child-- either yours or theirs. And losing that friend just when you need her the most!! OH-- the pain!! A double loss! This was a well-written engrossing book. Deeply moving. I love Jane Hamilton's style.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julian Lees

    At times riveting A MAP OF THE WORLD could also be terribly long winded. I enjoyed Howard's voice more than Alice's. I also found the prison commentary a bit tedious. At times riveting A MAP OF THE WORLD could also be terribly long winded. I enjoyed Howard's voice more than Alice's. I also found the prison commentary a bit tedious.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    I think Jane Hamilton tried to hard and too often to tie in the title of her book into the story itself. Or maybe it was just glaringly obvious for me since the book I was reading had penciled notes all over and various sentences and passages underlined. You wrote it in pencil! The least you could do is erase it! I'm sorry... *deep breath* I genuinely liked the book... most of it at least. There were a few spots where it felt like the characters became a little too introspective, which is irritati I think Jane Hamilton tried to hard and too often to tie in the title of her book into the story itself. Or maybe it was just glaringly obvious for me since the book I was reading had penciled notes all over and various sentences and passages underlined. You wrote it in pencil! The least you could do is erase it! I'm sorry... *deep breath* I genuinely liked the book... most of it at least. There were a few spots where it felt like the characters became a little too introspective, which is irritating when you want to get back to the "action." I wanted to know what was happening with the court case, and how Alice was doing in the prison, things more along those lines. Not Howard's thoughts on his milking cows... at times it didn't even tie well into the story and was just floating off there by itself. What I did love was the content resolution. It's not all together happy, which would sort of ruin the realistic quality of the novel. But it was a neat and satisfying ending. Something which was lacking in a few of the books I recently read. Possibly because Hamilton knew if she didn't give the reader the solution to the problem, it would make the book an annoying and unworthwhile read. She could have easily written off the ending easily, and earlier, telling you how the case ends and leaving it at that. But I was happy she didn't, because after focusing so much on the Goodwin's lives before and during the trial, you need to know what happens to them after the trial. Another thing that struck me as extremely interesting, yet may be considered a spoiler in this reflection, was the use of a female as the accused sexual abuser. Sexual abuse is not rare in society today, quite the opposite, but usually it falls on to men. So why does Hamilton choose to make Alice Goodwin our accused? Perhaps it's so the reader automatically sides with her, disbelieving that a woman, a mother, could do things so horrible. We probably wouldn't have even had to get to know Alice at all and would still side with her. Yet, Hamilton does set up the first 3rd of the story so we know Alice, the way she thinks, and the way she reacts. It's unfortunate that it was the middle of the novel that had to drag so much, only bumping up at a few moments. If it weren't for the middle of the novel I would have given it a high B or even an A. But it was that long, lengthy, and introspective middle that brought the novel down so much. It happens to many authors though, trying to beef up the middle of their story that lacks so much, but I think Hamilton used fluff instead of something of substance. It would be interesting to come back later and re-read the novel, especially if Hamilton chooses to revise it, and hopefully focuses most of her attention on the center of the story. So many authors think they need to have an extremely lengthy novel, or at least one of 300+ pages, but that simply isn't true. If you are an aspiring author, know that it doesn't matter the quantity... but the quality. Why do I always soapbox at the end of my reviews? *sigh* Oh, well, happy reading.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Mitchell

    Several years ago I noticed a copy of Jane Hamilton's A Map of the World and stuffed it into my bulging bag to purchase. I recognized it as having been a big seller and remembered hearing of Hamilton as a wonderful literary writer. Then the book sat on my shelf until recently when I had time between review books to explore a little. I hadn't noticed it was also an Oprah pick or I might not have bought it to begin with. I haven't had much luck with her book club choices. As I opened the cover a co Several years ago I noticed a copy of Jane Hamilton's A Map of the World and stuffed it into my bulging bag to purchase. I recognized it as having been a big seller and remembered hearing of Hamilton as a wonderful literary writer. Then the book sat on my shelf until recently when I had time between review books to explore a little. I hadn't noticed it was also an Oprah pick or I might not have bought it to begin with. I haven't had much luck with her book club choices. As I opened the cover a couple weeks ago, I discovered a previous reader had left a post-it note: "An awful lot of introspective and retrospective in the beginning. Heats up a bit when trial and jail episodes are told." It was signed with the reader's initials. If that note hadn't been there, I think I would have given up on the story before I had gotten very far, but thanks to it I persevered. To say I liked A Map of the World would be going too far. However, the story with all that introspection and retrospection made me think. I did get involved with the characters and the concept of how we have a tenuous grasp at best on our own lives, and in the blink of an eye it can all come spiraling out of control. A farm couple, Howard and Alice, struggling to make their living and working hard have two small daughters. They are friends with a couple who also have two daughters and one day while all four girls are at the farm, the friends' youngest daughter wanders away and drowns in their pond. Alice has a breakdown. Alice has been working part-time as the elementary school nurse. A boy she dislikes who has been abused at home makes some accusations out of spite, and now the whole world has gone crazy in Alice's mind. Meanwhile, sensible, calm Howard can't seem to make sense of the world either. This is no happily-ever-after story. In fact, I found it depressing reading at a time when I should have been reading cheerful stories. It's definitely food for thought though and I'm not sorry I stuck with it to the end. The quality of Hamilton's writing cannot be denied and I think my literary education is better for having read this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ~ Cheryl ~

    This one gets shelved under “rubber-necking.” It is a horribly tragic story, that you cannot tear your eyes away from. It seems almost cruel, in a way, for the author to make us consider these poor people; the accidental death of a small child, followed by a legal crisis which threatens to tear a family apart, and then have to watch them pick up the pieces and limp onward. But as much as you criticize other people for doing it, you find yourself rubber-necking anyway. Still, it is quite a good bo This one gets shelved under “rubber-necking.” It is a horribly tragic story, that you cannot tear your eyes away from. It seems almost cruel, in a way, for the author to make us consider these poor people; the accidental death of a small child, followed by a legal crisis which threatens to tear a family apart, and then have to watch them pick up the pieces and limp onward. But as much as you criticize other people for doing it, you find yourself rubber-necking anyway. Still, it is quite a good book. The writing is exquisite, and that is part of the allure. There is something to linger over on every page. And yet, due to the subject matter, it is unsettling. On the whole, it is as engrossing as it is excruciating. This was a re-read for me, which is exceedingly rare. I read it back in the late 90s, and now almost 20 years later. I’ve had it on my shelf all these years, never tossing it during any of my shelf-purges because it has always held the undisputed status of “keeper.” I’m glad I re-read it. I’m not the same person I was 20 years ago; for one thing I’ve become a mother in that time, so my reaction to the story is simply different than it ever could have been back then. I've changed as a reader; my copy is underlined in spots, and I kept thinking that I would have underlined entirely different passages this time around. While I still feel the book is quite good, I’d remembered it as being pitch-perfect, as not having wasted one word. This time I admit there were passages in the second half I felt were needlessly meandering. (But that’s a minor point.) Also, I'll add here, it showed its age in the way Oprah Winfrey and her dopey talk show were used as a device. (Also a minor point, but let that be a lesson, budding writers.) Most importantly, I remember now why I always eyed it cautiously sitting there on my shelf. The lasting impression was that, as good as it was, it left me feeling kind of hollow. And I found that to be true this time around as well. Read at your own risk.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kellie

    I have read several reviews that portray this book as being very depressing, sad, solemn, etc. At first, I would have to agree with these readers. Towards the middle of the book, however, I began to see the creative style of this author. To me, this was not just a story to tell. The author put the reader inside the head of Howard and Alice. I put more value on the writing because Ms. Hamilton went beyond just a story to tell and gave us some depth into the mind of an accused child abuser and her I have read several reviews that portray this book as being very depressing, sad, solemn, etc. At first, I would have to agree with these readers. Towards the middle of the book, however, I began to see the creative style of this author. To me, this was not just a story to tell. The author put the reader inside the head of Howard and Alice. I put more value on the writing because Ms. Hamilton went beyond just a story to tell and gave us some depth into the mind of an accused child abuser and her husband. This is an Oprah book club book. I don’t care much for these type of reads because Oprah tends to highlight the victim for publicity sake and she feeds off it..makes money off of it. But I’m not turned off by this one. There are so many dynamics to this writing. I think it’s a great book to be discussed in a bookclub. I would be curious to see what readers thought of the charcters, Teresa, Alice and Howard. I like Teresa. Even when she betrays her friend, I commend her for being real. Forgiving her friend when it was appropriate. She does not get caught up in her misery and understands the realty of the situation. I was angry with Alice at first. Her passiveness became her aggressiveness and that drove me crazy. But when she described the women she met in jail and how she admired their toughness and their wisdom. I admired her. You would think Alice would be in the darkest part of her life in jail. But in a way, Alice seems to thrive in it. She was actually in awe of these women and their street sense. The author seemed to capture an internal dynamic that was so unique but believable. To me, the weakest character was Howard. He blamed Alice for the sadness in their life and I felt he was unwilling to bend even the slightest to make the best of a situation. . This book surprised me. I appreciated the depth and meaning behind each word and I thought the theme was geared toward teaching a life lesson and I learned.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    I suspect it may not survive the test of time that would call it literature, but it is a compelling read. It is told in the first person in three parts; first by Alice, then by her husband Howard, and then again by Alice. It is a story told from memory. I once thought that memory was naturally coupled with understanding – with perspective. I have found that not to be the case. Despite the distance I can’t say now I have a clear sense of what happened last summer. I don’t know, either, if you can I suspect it may not survive the test of time that would call it literature, but it is a compelling read. It is told in the first person in three parts; first by Alice, then by her husband Howard, and then again by Alice. It is a story told from memory. I once thought that memory was naturally coupled with understanding – with perspective. I have found that not to be the case. Despite the distance I can’t say now I have a clear sense of what happened last summer. I don’t know, either, if you can compare one thing to another, if a specific thing is actually like any other thing. The summer had been a test of some sort. The Library of Congress catalogs it with several fiction descriptions: Dairy Farms-Middle West Farm Life- Middle West Children-Death Drowning The drowning of a child happens in the first 20 pages, so that is not a spoiler. It is not the saddest story I have ever read, but most of it ranks somewhere in the upper part of such a list. I have read Jane Hamilton before with her The Book of Ruth, but it was too many years ago that I don’t recall enough about it to know whether it was also filled with sadness. I sort of think it was. What I remember is that I was more than willing to read her again, and I can say that again now. Perhaps not soon, though.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Alice and Howard live on the last family run dairy farm in Prairie Center, WI. Though the cookie cutter subdivisions are fast encroaching, the couple is content in raising their daughters in peace. Only Alice feels the watchful, judgmental stares of the townspeople. The book begins from Alice’s point of view. She is self conscious, always questioning her ability, her patience, and her will to be a mother. About 50 pages in her best friend’ daughter drowns in her pond under Alice’s supervision. W Alice and Howard live on the last family run dairy farm in Prairie Center, WI. Though the cookie cutter subdivisions are fast encroaching, the couple is content in raising their daughters in peace. Only Alice feels the watchful, judgmental stares of the townspeople. The book begins from Alice’s point of view. She is self conscious, always questioning her ability, her patience, and her will to be a mother. About 50 pages in her best friend’ daughter drowns in her pond under Alice’s supervision. What would normally be the main conflict of a story, here is just the beginning. It’s a spark that starts something oddly more traumatic than the death of a 2 year old girl. This is an engaging lesson on how misplaced guilt can destroy innocents, of how families can change over the course of suffering, of how the guilty are not always guilty, the innocent not always innocent, and about the long road of forgiveness. Flipping between perspectives of Alice and Howard, Hamilton creates a couple who are deeply connected, dependent on each other, in Love even, and yet unable to share their feelings and on the brink of loosing their marriage. After reading a slew of romance novels, their relationship seemed painfully realistic.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Charity

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. One day, just for a moment, Alice Goodwin stops watching her best friend's two-year-old daughter and the child drowns in the Goodwin's pond. The tragedy opens a Pandora's box of troubles. Alice is accused of child abuse, thrown in jail, and put on trial. Yet, just as in the ancient myth of Pandora, there is still hope. The beautiful wording and style was the only saving grace in this book where NOTHING happens! Three events take place: 1. The drowning of Lizzy in Alice's pond, 2. The accusation One day, just for a moment, Alice Goodwin stops watching her best friend's two-year-old daughter and the child drowns in the Goodwin's pond. The tragedy opens a Pandora's box of troubles. Alice is accused of child abuse, thrown in jail, and put on trial. Yet, just as in the ancient myth of Pandora, there is still hope. The beautiful wording and style was the only saving grace in this book where NOTHING happens! Three events take place: 1. The drowning of Lizzy in Alice's pond, 2. The accusation of child molestation (Alice accused by troubled Robbie Mackessy) and the jailing of Alice, and 3. The trial and release of Alice (not guilty). The rest of the book seemed forced!...Howard and Theresa's pseudo-affair, the selling of the farm, Alice's jail experience. Frankly, it would've been a much better short story or novella.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Lour

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The death of her friends child was beautifully written, her description of her depression without calling it depression, amazing. IMHO that's where the story should have ended. Why tack on a child abuse charge, a trial, jail, and her husband cheating? The death of her friends child was beautifully written, her description of her depression without calling it depression, amazing. IMHO that's where the story should have ended. Why tack on a child abuse charge, a trial, jail, and her husband cheating?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I couldn't put this book down! I wanted to find out what would happen next. This book was full of tragedy - the accidental death of a child, the loss of a career, a marriage in jeopardy, and possible sexual abuse of many children. First, let me say, any case of child abuse suspected by an adult or reported by a child must be taken seriously and looked into. That being said, investigators must be very careful. Alice made a horrible choice when she slapped Robbie in her office at school, and she s I couldn't put this book down! I wanted to find out what would happen next. This book was full of tragedy - the accidental death of a child, the loss of a career, a marriage in jeopardy, and possible sexual abuse of many children. First, let me say, any case of child abuse suspected by an adult or reported by a child must be taken seriously and looked into. That being said, investigators must be very careful. Alice made a horrible choice when she slapped Robbie in her office at school, and she should have lost her job over it. However, the witch hunt that ensued of all the horrible things she "did" spun out of control. Again, all the accusations needed to be investigated, but rather than going with feelings, people needed to stick with facts instead of sensationalizing. If facts came out she needed to have consequences. However, there were no facts supporting sexual abuse in the nurse's office. As a teacher with over 13 years in the classroom, I strongly support protecting children. I have lots of training about detecting and preventing child abuse. I also have to get all my clearances every few years. I have had to call children's services a few times in my career. However, as a teacher, I am always scared about a child lying. Last year we did have a case about a child lying about a classroom aid. The class was all out in the hall listening to the teacher talk to them about something on a bulletin board. A group of boys were misbehaving so the aid told them to separate from each other. The one boy was angry and went home to tell his mom the aid pulled his hair and shoved him. She of course immediately contacted the school. The incident happened in the hall so the principal was able to pull up the security video to see what happened. The aid was not even near the boys and her hands were never near him. She was seen talking to them from an arm's length distance when she told them to separate. Thank goodness for the security camera her job was safe from this child who lied. Sadly, even after seeing the video, the mother sided with her son and made the aid's life miserable for a few weeks. When the security cameras were first installed, I questioned the need for them - we are in a safe school and not much happens in our halls. However, after this incident in the halls, I want a security camera in my classroom! Again, every report of abuse must be investigated for a child, but I have seen the other side of things when a lie is told and a professional has their career on the line. This book had my blood boiling and also had me trying to look at every angle to figure out what was the truth. Even though the sexual abuse trial ended in a not guilty verdict, the whole family's life was ruined by it. I hope Robbie moved on and grew up to do something with his life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A Map of the World examines the aftermath of a tragedy and how it affects the two families involved. Some people have said that it is too bleak of a read. I can certainly understand that perspective, though I found the book to be much more than a catalog of a family's hardships. It is also a story of grace and forgiveness. Hamilton explores how much tiny acts of mercy matter to others and the price of misunderstandings and assumptions. I can't say if the characters' stories ring true because I ha A Map of the World examines the aftermath of a tragedy and how it affects the two families involved. Some people have said that it is too bleak of a read. I can certainly understand that perspective, though I found the book to be much more than a catalog of a family's hardships. It is also a story of grace and forgiveness. Hamilton explores how much tiny acts of mercy matter to others and the price of misunderstandings and assumptions. I can't say if the characters' stories ring true because I have not endured what they did. But, I did find it possible to empathize with each (even when disagreeing with some of the choices that they made.) The book has three parts. Parts 1 and 3 are told by Alice. Part 2 is through Howard's eyes. I think this was effective in this story because it made the reader consider an alternative perspective on both the events and the other characters. Theresa's perspective is not shown, except through her dialogue with Alice and Howard. Although it would have been interesting to hear Theresa's side of the story, I don't think it would have been necessary. The writing about love, mercy and forgiveness is beautiful in parts. I meant to write down some of the passages, but did not. Here is just one that struck me: "Maybe heaven is whatever you want it to be," she said. "For me it's mothering even the bad parts. I'm very clear about that now. For Lizzy it should be just about the whole nine yards except baths...Hang in there Lizzy, I'll still be your mom when I'm eighty. I'll remember everything, absolutely everything about you and when I get there we'll pick up where we left off." The story takes places against the backdrop of a changing rural area. The details about farm life and the surrounding society added depth to the story. The scenes on the farm and by the pond were full of beauty and melancholy. Side note: This was written in 1994. I read it in 2012 unaware that it was an Oprah selection. I like Oprah but I am a bit suspicious of the adulation she tends to receive. One prison scene incorporated a little genuflection at the altar of Oprah's wisdom. Although it may be in keeping with the characters and the moment it described, I have grown a bit tired of all the public flattery of Oprah. Though should I ever get a novel going, maybe I should weave in a compliment or two just to cover my bases.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Let's be clear... If you're looking for a riveting courtroom drama with lots of action that leaves you on the edge of your seat and leaves you guessing if the accused will be found guilty...this is not the book for you. If, however, you're hungry for a well-written story about the affects of two major crises--the death of a small child and an accusation of a crime committed--on characters, on families, on relationships...this is the book for you! Based on the synopsis of this book, one could easily Let's be clear... If you're looking for a riveting courtroom drama with lots of action that leaves you on the edge of your seat and leaves you guessing if the accused will be found guilty...this is not the book for you. If, however, you're hungry for a well-written story about the affects of two major crises--the death of a small child and an accusation of a crime committed--on characters, on families, on relationships...this is the book for you! Based on the synopsis of this book, one could easily assume (as I did, at first) that the story of this book would center on the courtroom, the trial, and the verdict. Instead, Jane Hamilton chose to explore how characters and relationships would struggle and change as a result of these events and she does it masterfully. The characters are very believable. At points, I would have sworn that I'd met them before. Hamilton changes voices, first writing from the perspective of the main character (Alice), then from her husband (Howard), and finally from Alice's perspective again. While some authors are unable to pull this off without creating confusion or leaving you to wonder why they bothered to do this, Hamilton does it beautifully and uses it to fill in gaps, give you a different perspective, and help you better understand all the characters. In general, her writing is beautiful and poignant. In the end, you will get just a few courtroom scenes and the satisfaction of knowing the outcome of the trial. But it's hardly important at that point as you will be so engrossed in the struggles of the characters, their experiences, and the lasting affects the events of the book will have on all involved. Why only 4 stars and not 5? There were moments (however brief and minor) in which certain characters were a bit "too much," too stereotypical in some way. And yes, a spot or two (very brief) in which she seemed to go on just a bit too long, when it seemed it was time to move on. I can't stress enough how brief these moments were. It was otherwise a wonderful read, although be warned that the subject matter was a bit difficult.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Darbi

    I liked this book. I'll probably forget that I read it because it wasn't necessarily... massively heart touching or anything but I enjoyed the read and the author's writing style. I'm also glad that I bought it... but just at a library book sale for $1. I liked this book. I'll probably forget that I read it because it wasn't necessarily... massively heart touching or anything but I enjoyed the read and the author's writing style. I'm also glad that I bought it... but just at a library book sale for $1.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Simon Robs

    A woeful tale of familial tragedy, community tearing asunder, neighborly emotional tumult and ultimately a wholesome round of forgiveness to shepherd in a moving on to a next wave in the sea of life as it is ….

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.