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A teacher and practitioner of creative writing gives the journal treatment to six years of her life. In her 60s, Theroux (Giovanni's Light: The Story of a Town Where Time Stopped for Christmas, 2002, etc.) recorded her thoughts from 2000 to 2005. Here she presents them in a memoir of passing notions she considers worth savoring. She reflects on the pleasures of authorship A teacher and practitioner of creative writing gives the journal treatment to six years of her life. In her 60s, Theroux (Giovanni's Light: The Story of a Town Where Time Stopped for Christmas, 2002, etc.) recorded her thoughts from 2000 to 2005. Here she presents them in a memoir of passing notions she considers worth savoring. She reflects on the pleasures of authorship and on the care of her mother, who seemed to posses psychic energy fields both before and after her death. The author chronicles her travels to Italy for writing seminars and the completion of a successful book while there, and she worries about her finances and the process of aging. With the thoughtful intimations of mortality come solipsistic paroxysms of passion and confusion. (The romance turns out well). Theroux writes of neighbors and nature, marks the passage of a pair of mallards and muses on the activities of an inchworm. In the elegiac tone of Our Town or E.B. White in full rustic mode, she pushes to make mundane matters large. She luxuriates in fanciful figures of speech-a friend is "like the net around a bag of onions"; living in small-town Ashland, Va., she sometimes feels "like a bulb in a teacup"-and she includes snippets from some of her favorite writers, including Thoreau, Emerson, Arthur Miller and Karen Armstrong. For current commentary and explanation, the author interrupts, in italics, the story by her former self. On the whole, Theroux offers pleasant reading and a few deep thoughts surrounded by stylish writing probably most appealing to female readers. A journal that may grace enough night tables to assuage the author's avowed concerns about her bank balance.


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A teacher and practitioner of creative writing gives the journal treatment to six years of her life. In her 60s, Theroux (Giovanni's Light: The Story of a Town Where Time Stopped for Christmas, 2002, etc.) recorded her thoughts from 2000 to 2005. Here she presents them in a memoir of passing notions she considers worth savoring. She reflects on the pleasures of authorship A teacher and practitioner of creative writing gives the journal treatment to six years of her life. In her 60s, Theroux (Giovanni's Light: The Story of a Town Where Time Stopped for Christmas, 2002, etc.) recorded her thoughts from 2000 to 2005. Here she presents them in a memoir of passing notions she considers worth savoring. She reflects on the pleasures of authorship and on the care of her mother, who seemed to posses psychic energy fields both before and after her death. The author chronicles her travels to Italy for writing seminars and the completion of a successful book while there, and she worries about her finances and the process of aging. With the thoughtful intimations of mortality come solipsistic paroxysms of passion and confusion. (The romance turns out well). Theroux writes of neighbors and nature, marks the passage of a pair of mallards and muses on the activities of an inchworm. In the elegiac tone of Our Town or E.B. White in full rustic mode, she pushes to make mundane matters large. She luxuriates in fanciful figures of speech-a friend is "like the net around a bag of onions"; living in small-town Ashland, Va., she sometimes feels "like a bulb in a teacup"-and she includes snippets from some of her favorite writers, including Thoreau, Emerson, Arthur Miller and Karen Armstrong. For current commentary and explanation, the author interrupts, in italics, the story by her former self. On the whole, Theroux offers pleasant reading and a few deep thoughts surrounded by stylish writing probably most appealing to female readers. A journal that may grace enough night tables to assuage the author's avowed concerns about her bank balance.

30 review for The Journal Keeper: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    This book originally caught my eye because I keep personal journals and enjoy looking for new ideas by studying the journals of others. In addition to keeping journals, Phyllis Theroux is an essayist, columnist, teacher and author, whose work has been published in such critically acclaimed newspapers as the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Journal Keeper represents snippets from her journals dated 2000-2005 – years in which several transformative events took place in her life. I find This book originally caught my eye because I keep personal journals and enjoy looking for new ideas by studying the journals of others. In addition to keeping journals, Phyllis Theroux is an essayist, columnist, teacher and author, whose work has been published in such critically acclaimed newspapers as the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Journal Keeper represents snippets from her journals dated 2000-2005 – years in which several transformative events took place in her life. I find it challenging, if not arrogant, to offer a critique of someone else's personal journal entries, so I will stick to commenting on things I found helpful, challenging and/or enlightening about The Journal Keeper. Two of the more poignant grouping of entries had to do with Theroux's relationship with her mother and her eventual death and Theroux's struggle to embrace opportunities presented as the result of a serious love interest. The journey of grief after the death of a parent is certainly a time of struggle to which many can relate -- especially to the loneliness and loss of companionship, in particular. Having lost my father, some of Theroux's eloquence about grief left me teary-eyed. Sometime after the death of her mother, Ms. Theroux met a "nice" man deeply desiring to build a permanent relationship with her. Due to her woundedness from a failed marriage, Theroux's insecurity and fear left her ambivalent about whether to make a commitment to the relationship. She was honest about her struggles which I appreciated, but have to admit I also wanted to "smack" her into some needed sanity and maturity. I concede, however, it takes a great deal of courage to call out your vulnerability and negative thinking patterns before others the way Theroux does in this section of her book. Fortunately, things turn out well for in the end, but I won't divulge in what ways in order not to spoil the read for anyone else. Ms. Theroux's writing is engaging with some of her prose being quite lovely, insightful and profound. Some readers might not be comfortable reading the journal entries of someone who has opened the book of her life so widely. (I have no intention of publishing my journals!) Reading the journal writing of others can indeed feel invasive, if not voyeuristic. However, I met my goal for this read in terms of discovering creative new ways to approach recording in my own journals. As an ending for the book, Theroux shares the directive she once received and now considers a divine call placed upon her life, “Use your life to illuminate something larger.” That stands as a great charge for all of us! Thanks for sharing, Ms. Theroux!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    5 Stars. There was so much wisdom here. I saved this book to read at night when I felt the most receptive to it. Phyllis Theroux adds quotes from certain writers that she admires to her journal, quotes that strike her as gems of wisdom. I found Theroux's own personnal journal observations to sparkle just as brightly, and were often even more accessible. I wanted to underline certain passages and share them with friends. I couldn't though, this was a library copy. So I will have to have my own co 5 Stars. There was so much wisdom here. I saved this book to read at night when I felt the most receptive to it. Phyllis Theroux adds quotes from certain writers that she admires to her journal, quotes that strike her as gems of wisdom. I found Theroux's own personnal journal observations to sparkle just as brightly, and were often even more accessible. I wanted to underline certain passages and share them with friends. I couldn't though, this was a library copy. So I will have to have my own copy of this truely inspiring work. What I love so much about Theroux is the way she is so full of genius, but so fallible and human. She shares her thoughts so honestly. As I read The Journal Keeper, I heard Theroux's voice in my head. But when I watched a clip of her reading from her book on her website, I was so surprised that the voice didn't match! Well of course not, but it just seemed like I knew her so well while I was reading her book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

    "If we look upon our experiences as assets, we must manage to preserve or transfer those assets to other people before we die or they dissolve in the grave with us." "Your journal should be a wise friend who helps you create your own enlightenment." -Phyllis Theroux Phyllis Theroux's memoir is a collection of her journal entries over a period of six years. In it we see her facing life's challenges and opportunities: getting older, financial concerns, aging parents, and finding love. I really enjo "If we look upon our experiences as assets, we must manage to preserve or transfer those assets to other people before we die or they dissolve in the grave with us." "Your journal should be a wise friend who helps you create your own enlightenment." -Phyllis Theroux Phyllis Theroux's memoir is a collection of her journal entries over a period of six years. In it we see her facing life's challenges and opportunities: getting older, financial concerns, aging parents, and finding love. I really enjoyed getting a glimpse through her life. It has definitely inspired me to write in my journal more often.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This genre is a favorite of mine, and THE JOURNAL KEEPER: A MEMOIR is an inspiring look at a writer's life. Theroux was another one of those accidental finds. I was looking for Paul Theroux and when I found Phyllis I was intrigued, thinking she might be one of Paul's ex-wives. I couldn't wait to absorb the "dish". But she isn't. She is an introspective lady of a certain age who lives with her mother. She fusses with her children and knows the gossip of the small town that she has moved to. At on This genre is a favorite of mine, and THE JOURNAL KEEPER: A MEMOIR is an inspiring look at a writer's life. Theroux was another one of those accidental finds. I was looking for Paul Theroux and when I found Phyllis I was intrigued, thinking she might be one of Paul's ex-wives. I couldn't wait to absorb the "dish". But she isn't. She is an introspective lady of a certain age who lives with her mother. She fusses with her children and knows the gossip of the small town that she has moved to. At one time she belonged to more powerful circles in Washington, D.C. Sometimes the longing for a more involved life and a more glamorous array of friends tests her loyalties to her new home. Ever introspective, she examines her yearnings and the things that satisfy her. She shares books that she is reading and tidbits of wisdom picked out to muse upon. She shares her teaching experiences where she teaches people to write. She tells us what she has told her students as they labor over their work. This is inspiring reading! It is inspired writing! It makes the writer in me want to write, write, write. It makes me want to find all of my journals, and compile them into one organized and thoughtful melange. This is a good book group book or a book to take to a writing group. It is a good book for a person who has lost their way into the writing life. It is a GOOD book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sally Wessely

    I was led to this book by several women who are blogging buddies. Since one had quoted parts of the book on her blog, I was interested and intrigued by what I read. When another sent me a personal email and suggested I would really enjoy reading it, I knew it was the next book I needed to read. This was one of those books that I hated to finish. I wanted to keep reading Phyllis Theroux's journal. The wisdom and insight about life that shared in this book practically leaped off the page as I read I was led to this book by several women who are blogging buddies. Since one had quoted parts of the book on her blog, I was interested and intrigued by what I read. When another sent me a personal email and suggested I would really enjoy reading it, I knew it was the next book I needed to read. This was one of those books that I hated to finish. I wanted to keep reading Phyllis Theroux's journal. The wisdom and insight about life that shared in this book practically leaped off the page as I read through her journal. I am a journal reader and a journal keeper. This book ranks above most of the journals of others that I have read perhaps because she is so open and honest in what she shares, yet in her sharing she does not judge or condemn others. She is more introspective about herself and what she learns in her interaction from others. I loved her small town and the people in it. I loved her writing groups. I wanted to be a part of both. I learned much about journaling from her. I am inspired to keep journaling and to keep writing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kimberlee

    This book both turned me off and drew me in. There was a lot of "manufactured drama"--Am I spiritual enough? How do I develop spiritually? Maybe I'm too spiritual? Ugh! So much navel-gazing! And yet, I couldn't put the book down. The language is beautiful. The author mentions working on a book about her mother and I do hope she has or will finish that project. Her mother was a fascinating and inspiring woman. I would love to read more. All in all, a mixed bag for me. This book both turned me off and drew me in. There was a lot of "manufactured drama"--Am I spiritual enough? How do I develop spiritually? Maybe I'm too spiritual? Ugh! So much navel-gazing! And yet, I couldn't put the book down. The language is beautiful. The author mentions working on a book about her mother and I do hope she has or will finish that project. Her mother was a fascinating and inspiring woman. I would love to read more. All in all, a mixed bag for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    The following is taken from the Journal Keeper website .. I could not invent a more beautiful description of this book. It has come at the perfect time in my life. Theroux is a natural story teller. She slips her arm companionably into yours, like an old friend going for a stroll. But her stride is long, her eye sharp, and she swings easily between subjects that occupy most people who are mid-way through their lives: love, loneliness, children, growing old, financial worries, spiritual growth, an The following is taken from the Journal Keeper website .. I could not invent a more beautiful description of this book. It has come at the perfect time in my life. Theroux is a natural story teller. She slips her arm companionably into yours, like an old friend going for a stroll. But her stride is long, her eye sharp, and she swings easily between subjects that occupy most people who are mid-way through their lives: love, loneliness, children, growing old, financial worries, spiritual growth, and – in Theroux’s case – watching her remarkable mother prepare for death. Thirty years ago, Theroux began to keep a journal when she was in the middle of a painful divorce and in deep distress. Over time, it evolved into something quite different – a kind of daily “light box” that she uses to illuminate her path. But not until Theroux sat down to edit her journals for publication did she realize, in her words, “that a hand much larger and more knowing than my own was guiding my life and pen across the page.” She makes a good case for this being true for us all.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mary Whisner

    I really liked some passages and didn't care so much for others. In a way, reading the journal entries--notes about the author's life and observations of life around her--was like walking through a gallery where you love some paintings but not others. I enjoyed reading about the day-to-day life of a writer (a professional writer generally on the edge if financial disaster) and teacher. She's in in sixties in the years covered by the journals, just a few years ahead of me in the aging game, and s I really liked some passages and didn't care so much for others. In a way, reading the journal entries--notes about the author's life and observations of life around her--was like walking through a gallery where you love some paintings but not others. I enjoyed reading about the day-to-day life of a writer (a professional writer generally on the edge if financial disaster) and teacher. She's in in sixties in the years covered by the journals, just a few years ahead of me in the aging game, and so her comments about aging were also apropos. She's much more spiritual and reflective than I am--which simultaneously interested me and made me feel distant. And which makes me think some of my more spiritual and reflective friends would enjoy the book even more than I did. My book group had a vigorous discussion of this, each of us finding lots to comment on.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sonyajohnston

    The author convinced me that our journals should not be published. Too much of her thoughts on things. I wanted to bop her over the head a few times. She expected others to change the way they were but never expected that she should change. If you are in relationships you need to allow them to be themselves. She expected people to change or she wouldn't have them in her life. If you read the book hopefully you will see what I mean by this. I don't know if I will read anymore of her books. I thi The author convinced me that our journals should not be published. Too much of her thoughts on things. I wanted to bop her over the head a few times. She expected others to change the way they were but never expected that she should change. If you are in relationships you need to allow them to be themselves. She expected people to change or she wouldn't have them in her life. If you read the book hopefully you will see what I mean by this. I don't know if I will read anymore of her books. I think sometimes it is better to have a mystique about the authors and their thoughts on every day things.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cortney Davis

    This book got off to a slow start, but once I got into it; it was hard to put down. This Author was very brave to share her own personal journal enteries, but that's what makes the book so interesting...the raw, hard truth of one's personal thoughts, convictions, and opinions...and on top of that, all the quotes and books she recommends throughout was great. This is a book I would love to have for my collection as I could see myself reading this one again and again.... This book got off to a slow start, but once I got into it; it was hard to put down. This Author was very brave to share her own personal journal enteries, but that's what makes the book so interesting...the raw, hard truth of one's personal thoughts, convictions, and opinions...and on top of that, all the quotes and books she recommends throughout was great. This is a book I would love to have for my collection as I could see myself reading this one again and again....

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anna Napolitano

    This was an absolutely thought provoking and enligthening read. I felt so much of my own inner self through Phyllis' journal entries and life experiences. I found much wisdom and some tears in her memoir, but took away a new understanding of what love is, on different levels. Wonderful book!!! This was an absolutely thought provoking and enligthening read. I felt so much of my own inner self through Phyllis' journal entries and life experiences. I found much wisdom and some tears in her memoir, but took away a new understanding of what love is, on different levels. Wonderful book!!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy Paget

    This is a wonderful book that will resonate profoundly with midlife women of a literary bent...did I say that it was written for me! I am ready to learn more about the author and her writing workshops.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Anyone that journals will enjoy. Once I started I had to finish it. I laughed, I cried, I related.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gail Cooke

    It is rare but it does happen. You begin to read a book, a memoir and are suddenly struck by a writer's openness, honesty, truth. The author seems to be speaking directly to you, sharing confidences, bits of wisdom, and you feel as though you've found a new friend. That was my response after happily coming upon THE JOURNAL KEEPER. Phyllis Theroux, a writer of note, began this journal when she was 61; it follows six years of her life. Describing her past in the Introduction she tells us she is div It is rare but it does happen. You begin to read a book, a memoir and are suddenly struck by a writer's openness, honesty, truth. The author seems to be speaking directly to you, sharing confidences, bits of wisdom, and you feel as though you've found a new friend. That was my response after happily coming upon THE JOURNAL KEEPER. Phyllis Theroux, a writer of note, began this journal when she was 61; it follows six years of her life. Describing her past in the Introduction she tells us she is divorced and the mother of three. Early on, before she wrote for publication she penned thoughts, scenes, portions of her days after her children were asleep. Later, she strove to support herself and the children as a free lance writer - the assignments began to come in. Theroux notes that on the same day she signed her separation agreement her first essay for the New York Times appeared. She writes, "While my personal life was going down in flames, my professional life was rising with the same speed from the ashes. But it seemed like a Faustian bargain that had been made without my consent: worldly success in exchange for personal ruin. It would be many years before I could view it in any other way." The lessons learned as she grew into this view, descriptions of her mother and friends, as well as portraits of Ashland, Virginia and its townspeople are gifts to us. As Theroux recounts her daily life we relate to the challenges she faces, many of which we share - a nest empty with children grown and gone, an aging parent, money worries. Yet, above all this a note of hope prevails. She finds inspiration and comfort in the words of others, studding her memoir with quotations that speak to us. THE JOURNAL KEEPER gives us much for which to be thankful and much to ponder. Theroux's closes with a thought, "Use your life to illuminate something larger. That's it. That's what we're all called to do." She has done that and more with the words she has written. - Gail Cooke

  15. 5 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    What a wonderful peek into the mind of a writer who takes the time to ponder the complexities of relationships. She weaves her own wisdom, referencing writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Tolle, Vonnegut, and Pascal. She writes with a freshness that I found inspirational. The author's relationship with her mother was tender and fleshed out for the reader with moments rather than big life events. Her indecision about marriage in her mid sixties was shared with brutal honesty. It made me think about how What a wonderful peek into the mind of a writer who takes the time to ponder the complexities of relationships. She weaves her own wisdom, referencing writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Tolle, Vonnegut, and Pascal. She writes with a freshness that I found inspirational. The author's relationship with her mother was tender and fleshed out for the reader with moments rather than big life events. Her indecision about marriage in her mid sixties was shared with brutal honesty. It made me think about how hard it is for a divorced, self sufficient woman who loves solitude to decide to remarry. She is a writer who works hard at her craft, nurtures her friendships, and travels widely. She teaches others in her Nightwriters retreats and workshops. How I'd love to be one of her students. So, I'm pretty enamored with this book but I didn't give it a 5. There were a few parts where her realizations became a little repetitive. I want to be coaxed to think, not have ideas hammered into my skull. She is also a mistress of metaphor. Sometimes they came too quickly and I couldn't appreciate one before the next one appeared. I have never highlighted as many passages in a book. Not ever. Here are just a few: "Up at seven, make the bed, prune my life so the strength flows into fewer branches." I need to have "the ability to take a piece of chalk and draw a smaller circle around my feet when the old larger circle falls apart." "There is something mysterious but obvious about the importance of staying put. The soul cannot do its work when we are in constant motion." "Poetry excavates, blasts, cuts through the flab." "I have chosen to be a writer and must be willing to do what it takes. It is like drilling for oil, having the faith that it is down there. But beyond or beneath that faith is the commitment to dig, whether the oil is there or not." "What keeps you from being fully alive is what you are most afraid to go through." Oh I know, enough, but I highlighted so much more.......

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Thank you to Cassie who gave me this book for my birthday! This is the story of part of a woman's life as told through her journal entries. It deals mostly with her caring for her sick mother and her relationships (both friendly and romantic). I thought this was a really interesting way to write a memoir. What I really appreciated was how observant the author was -- how much she noticed things -- and also how she could come up with really insightful thoughts about the things she observed. There Thank you to Cassie who gave me this book for my birthday! This is the story of part of a woman's life as told through her journal entries. It deals mostly with her caring for her sick mother and her relationships (both friendly and romantic). I thought this was a really interesting way to write a memoir. What I really appreciated was how observant the author was -- how much she noticed things -- and also how she could come up with really insightful thoughts about the things she observed. There was one time where she talked about walking into a spiderweb while hiking. She went on to notice how only the first person walking gets the full effect of the web. Moral of the story -- don't cast your ideas too low if you want them to survive. Smart, right? I also liked her short aftewrword at the end of the book (duh...where else would the afterword be?). In it, she talks about reasons for keeping a journal, what kind of journal to use, and what kinds of things to write about in your journal. I am not sure yet if I agree with all of her ideas, but it definitely gave me something to think about in my own journaling.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gaili Schoen

    I was introduced to Phyllis Theroux via her Writer-In-Residence essays in Victoria Magazine for the year 2017. I loved her beautiful, introspective writing, and wanted more. The Journal Keeper is a beautifully written account of several years of the author's life in which she copes with her mother's decline, a compelling late-in-life relationship, and struggles with finances and her writing process. Theroux discusses books she has read, and authors she quotes. I think this is a reader's book- so I was introduced to Phyllis Theroux via her Writer-In-Residence essays in Victoria Magazine for the year 2017. I loved her beautiful, introspective writing, and wanted more. The Journal Keeper is a beautifully written account of several years of the author's life in which she copes with her mother's decline, a compelling late-in-life relationship, and struggles with finances and her writing process. Theroux discusses books she has read, and authors she quotes. I think this is a reader's book- so filled with interesting references and nuanced insights. I learned a lot from this wise and thoughtful woman, and would recommend this book to all of my best friends. Merged review: I enjoyed Theroux's essays in Victoria Magazine and was excited to find out that she had written this memoir, too. I loved it. i read it while on an adventurous trip and it kept me grounded and calm. It's such a joy to read books by older women, about the issues that we face. I'd love to read more by Theroux!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    "The Journal-Keeper," composed of edited journal entries, chronicles a five-year period of transition in Phyllis Theroux's early sixties. I am tempted to copy endless quotations from it. Here is one of them: "What I continually fail to note in these pages, is the heart-breaking, light-filled brilliance of the world I swim through like an unappreciative fish every day. Let the record show that I am grateful" (76). And another: "There is something mysterious but obvious about the importance of sta "The Journal-Keeper," composed of edited journal entries, chronicles a five-year period of transition in Phyllis Theroux's early sixties. I am tempted to copy endless quotations from it. Here is one of them: "What I continually fail to note in these pages, is the heart-breaking, light-filled brilliance of the world I swim through like an unappreciative fish every day. Let the record show that I am grateful" (76). And another: "There is something mysterious but obvious about the importance of staying put. The soul cannot do its work when we are in constant motion. It requires the knowledge that it won't be asked to move too far from home. These past several weeks when I have been at rest within myself have been fruitful by being fallow. I can feel my imagination repairing itself, my powers of concentration returning" (41).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten Bett

    I really did like this book... I am reviewing it a few weeks after being pleased I finished it. But now I find myself thinking about the contents, (re)starting a journal myself after a quite intense week. I like the way the author gets you to know her life, her friends, her family and the way she talks about her life although sometimes I find she does go on a bit about her doubts etc- yeah yeah enough already I find myself thinking. Mostly she does stop then and does something very positive and I really did like this book... I am reviewing it a few weeks after being pleased I finished it. But now I find myself thinking about the contents, (re)starting a journal myself after a quite intense week. I like the way the author gets you to know her life, her friends, her family and the way she talks about her life although sometimes I find she does go on a bit about her doubts etc- yeah yeah enough already I find myself thinking. Mostly she does stop then and does something very positive and surprising, like holding a writing seminar in Italy (great!) or joining an online dating site where she meets her husband. I think if I'd read it again I'd read other books in between so you get your excitement from another book while taking the time to digest what Phyllis Theroux has actually said and quotations she has cited.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I thought this was a wonderful, wise memoir by a very interesting woman. There were so many passages that I flagged for repeat reading, and so many thoughts she shared that I had to smile and nod my head at. Thoughts on aging, relationships, late-life romance, and our journey on this planet were mostly relevant to me, being of approximately the same age as she is. Some of her angst would be considered overwrought by women not as well off (in spite of her occasional worries about what I perceived I thought this was a wonderful, wise memoir by a very interesting woman. There were so many passages that I flagged for repeat reading, and so many thoughts she shared that I had to smile and nod my head at. Thoughts on aging, relationships, late-life romance, and our journey on this planet were mostly relevant to me, being of approximately the same age as she is. Some of her angst would be considered overwrought by women not as well off (in spite of her occasional worries about what I perceived as mostly minor financial worries) since she had a lovely house and no eviction notices on the door. She traveled and seemed to have a good life for the most part. Her mother was a hoot with her ghosts (that she deliberately ignored), tarot cards, and wry take on life in general. Recommended to anyone who enjoys memoirs with an intellectual bent, and elegant, introspective writing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I stumbled on this book after finding a quote by the author on Google that I liked, "To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart." I was uncertain I'd enjoy a memoir by someone I had not previously heard of, but I drank this down like a favorite bottle of wine. I was touched by her relationship with her mother, her friends and a new life partner and particularly moved by how she contemplated the joys and challenges of aging. There was so much I wanted to I stumbled on this book after finding a quote by the author on Google that I liked, "To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart." I was uncertain I'd enjoy a memoir by someone I had not previously heard of, but I drank this down like a favorite bottle of wine. I was touched by her relationship with her mother, her friends and a new life partner and particularly moved by how she contemplated the joys and challenges of aging. There was so much I wanted to underline...so I'm already starting a second reading with pencil in hand. While especially poignant for those who are writers (or would like to be,) the Journal Keeper speaks to anyone who finds themselves regularly contemplating their purpose, their relationships, and a desire for personal peace and happiness.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kasey Jueds

    I wasn't sure I'd like this book after reading the introduction, which I found a little... sentimental, I guess, and a little predictable. But the rest of it (which is to say, about 99% of it, since the intro. is only maybe 4 pages long) was a joyful surprise: smart, deeply thoughtful, wide-ranging, not at all predictable, and (hooray) not at all sentimental. Phyllis Theroux writes beautifully about a big variety of topics: family, growing older, mature love, her mother's very fascinating and un I wasn't sure I'd like this book after reading the introduction, which I found a little... sentimental, I guess, and a little predictable. But the rest of it (which is to say, about 99% of it, since the intro. is only maybe 4 pages long) was a joyful surprise: smart, deeply thoughtful, wide-ranging, not at all predictable, and (hooray) not at all sentimental. Phyllis Theroux writes beautifully about a big variety of topics: family, growing older, mature love, her mother's very fascinating and unusual life, writing, money, spiritual life. I would read frantically and then stop to copy down a quote I loved, and then read frantically some more. I was inspired by this book... which, though I love a lot of contemporary memoirs, isn't something I often experience when reading them.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    If you've thought about keeping a journal, but didn't know where to start, I highly recommend this lovely book. Phyllis Theroux has written a memoir based on her journals from 2000 to 2005, a very significant period in her life. She had given up her urban writer's life to move to a small Virginia town to care for her elderly mother. She was divorced and her kids were adults with lives of their own. It's all here -- loss, loneliness, money worries, growing old, and, surprisingly, the possibility If you've thought about keeping a journal, but didn't know where to start, I highly recommend this lovely book. Phyllis Theroux has written a memoir based on her journals from 2000 to 2005, a very significant period in her life. She had given up her urban writer's life to move to a small Virginia town to care for her elderly mother. She was divorced and her kids were adults with lives of their own. It's all here -- loss, loneliness, money worries, growing old, and, surprisingly, the possibility of new love. Theroux is a very generous writer, who teaches seminars on journal writing. As an epilogue to her memoir, she gives practical advice on journal keeping and includes a very helpful reading list for inspiration. A delight.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Writer's Relief

    This memoir covers six years of the author's life. Reading this book is like enjoying a cup of tea and conversation with a friend. She reflects on issues that concern us all, especially as we age: finances, spirituality, friendship, loneliness, and death. By journaling her thoughts, Theroux prepares herself to face the impending death of her elderly mother. As a spiritual person, she comes to believe that "a hand much larger and more knowing than my own was guiding my life and pen across the pag This memoir covers six years of the author's life. Reading this book is like enjoying a cup of tea and conversation with a friend. She reflects on issues that concern us all, especially as we age: finances, spirituality, friendship, loneliness, and death. By journaling her thoughts, Theroux prepares herself to face the impending death of her elderly mother. As a spiritual person, she comes to believe that "a hand much larger and more knowing than my own was guiding my life and pen across the page." I don’t necessarily agree with that-- I think we have to guide our own lives and make our own choices-- for good or bad. But reading this book is still a comforting experience--it's a book to come back to, as I have over the years.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Hecking

    I found myself really drawn to Theroux's insights and mindful observations of ordinary life up until the place in the memoir where she began her relationship with her new romantic interest. At that point, everything collapsed into a puddle of infatuation. Prior to that, I would give it four or maybe even five stars. After that point, two at best, so on average I'm going for three. I found myself really drawn to Theroux's insights and mindful observations of ordinary life up until the place in the memoir where she began her relationship with her new romantic interest. At that point, everything collapsed into a puddle of infatuation. Prior to that, I would give it four or maybe even five stars. After that point, two at best, so on average I'm going for three.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura Lander

    Rich and inspiring, and entirely relatable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Janice Shull

    This book leapt off the shelf at the local library's bookstore and in to my hands (and heart). Priced at only $1.00, perhaps because the first 20 pages were loose from the binding, I might have passed it by, thinking it was a trashy romance novel. Honestly, the cozy cover photo— of a big red wing chair sitting on a green lawn with a white picket fence behind it— MADE me pick it up. I did not recognize the name Phyllis Theroux, although it sounded vaguely familiar. The concept of the book appeale This book leapt off the shelf at the local library's bookstore and in to my hands (and heart). Priced at only $1.00, perhaps because the first 20 pages were loose from the binding, I might have passed it by, thinking it was a trashy romance novel. Honestly, the cozy cover photo— of a big red wing chair sitting on a green lawn with a white picket fence behind it— MADE me pick it up. I did not recognize the name Phyllis Theroux, although it sounded vaguely familiar. The concept of the book appealed to me: “a journal of her thoughts, feelings, and musings by her favorite authors,…a natural storyteller…talking about love, loneliness, growing old, financial worries, and caring for an aging parent.” The brief bio mentioned that Theroux often gives seminars on how to keep a good journal. She has a website: www.journal-keeper.com. What I thought would be a useful book for developing a course for seniors on telling their life stories turned out to be an affecting book for me. It was on page 4 when I began to highlight her writing, carrying my yellow highlighter along with the book. Her relationship with her mother and her desire to write about her mother seemed so very similar to my own. And the frustration of writing! Theroux is gifted with perception and expressiveness. There is no summary of the book because it does not follow a narrative pattern. Rather, there are nuggets and gems of writing throughout, and these are far too precious to keep tucked into the pages of a book. Here is one from the final pages of the book: "Use your life to illuminate something larger. That’s it. That’s what we’re all called to do."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I'm a snoop. I want to know what is in the minds of other people, what their journals look like (I don't look unless invited--I'm not _that_ bad of a snoop!), and how individuals handle the getting-through-life aspects of their daily lives. Add to this that the person in question is a reader and writer and deep thinker, and I'm in heaven. If you are someone who must have a strong narrative in your memoirs, you might not love the deep introspection that happens in this book that takes precedence I'm a snoop. I want to know what is in the minds of other people, what their journals look like (I don't look unless invited--I'm not _that_ bad of a snoop!), and how individuals handle the getting-through-life aspects of their daily lives. Add to this that the person in question is a reader and writer and deep thinker, and I'm in heaven. If you are someone who must have a strong narrative in your memoirs, you might not love the deep introspection that happens in this book that takes precedence over the events in her life, but if I were you, I'd give this one a try. Theroux seems to know her faults and isn't shy about sharing them, and her advice about what to record in a journal--the notion that the journal should be a sort of helpful friend and advisor--is a notion I wish I'd had in mind in my earlier days of keeping a journal when I was mostly just whining. As you peek into her life, you'll meet some fascinating characters, including Theroux's aging mother. You'll think more deeply about what you read and what you write. Though this isn't a self-help or how-to book, you'll think about ways to live your life more honestly and how to record it. This is a book I'll want to hang on to. It will appeal to writers, lovers of journal keeping, women in middle age, and deep thoughts.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tanya b

    I am a fan of journal memoirs but frankly don’t read them very often as I believe you need to be in a certain frame of mind to take them in. This is my first Phyllis Theroux book and I am happy that it was a journal memoir. I appreciate her philosophical perspective and writing. It’s definitely not a diary and tracking of her day-to-day; rather, it’s an expression of experience. She includes stories of her life in Ashland, Virginia, her travels for writing to Italy and California, and her relation I am a fan of journal memoirs but frankly don’t read them very often as I believe you need to be in a certain frame of mind to take them in. This is my first Phyllis Theroux book and I am happy that it was a journal memoir. I appreciate her philosophical perspective and writing. It’s definitely not a diary and tracking of her day-to-day; rather, it’s an expression of experience. She includes stories of her life in Ashland, Virginia, her travels for writing to Italy and California, and her relationship with her mother who comes to live with Phyllis in the last stages of her life. She concludes this memoir with a love story and how to embrace a relationship late in life when it butts against the contrast of her deep love of independence and solitude. If you love journal writing from a philosophical thinker, you will love this little memoir. Her writing is lovely and she provides such a wonderful “beginner’s mind” when it comes to reflection, spirituality and learning.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This journal is written as a memoir of Phyllis’s time of taking care of her mother while struggling with aging, writing, directing writing workshops and financial concerns and then as time progresses to a new phase of her life as she regains her grounding. I found the book interesting but I think that she might be a difficult person to be a friend with unless one met her approval. And I envy her mobility to flit from Italy, Washington D.C. and California without much concern of the cost. It is a This journal is written as a memoir of Phyllis’s time of taking care of her mother while struggling with aging, writing, directing writing workshops and financial concerns and then as time progresses to a new phase of her life as she regains her grounding. I found the book interesting but I think that she might be a difficult person to be a friend with unless one met her approval. And I envy her mobility to flit from Italy, Washington D.C. and California without much concern of the cost. It is an honest book I dealing with her failings also and her story kept my interest.

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