Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Susan's Isle of Dreams

Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreamsby Susan Branch
During our trip up to Idaho and Washington State a couple of weeks ago, I bought Susan Branch's newest book and proceeded to read it to the end in three days. 

Susan Branch, if you don't already know, is a prolific water color artist and cookbook author loved by homemakers (and many others, I feel sure) since the late 1980s.

some of Susan Branch's cookbooks in my personal library

This book, which came out just this spring and is currently selling quickly while she is on a cross-country book tour, is an autobiography focused on her years after a very sudden and devastating break-up of her marriage. 

Every single page was hand-written with her most delightful penmanship and embellished with countless samples of her watercolor art.

a couple of sample pages from Martha's Vineyard, Isle of Dreams

But even more telling is her story of how she survived serious heartbreak, depression, and the choices she made in order to survive the emotional anguish. Her sense of humor comes out as this California girl describes staying in her jammies all day and doting on her cats while learning to live on the opposite side of the country --thousands of miles from all her family and friends. She makes honest admissions about her sorrows, lack of personal disciplines, and surviving winter in a tiny house on Martha's Vineyard where she knew no one at all. One learns a lot about herself when living alone, and it can be very sobering. 

As time passes, the story takes some very positive turns. Her continuing insecurities endear her to the reader -- at least that's the way it was with me. 

I bought my copy of the book at Barnes and Noble in Spokane Valley, Washington and began reading it that same afternoon as we sat in lawn chairs under shade trees beside Lake Coeur d'Alene. I was reluctant to put the book down at dinnertime. 
The next day as we began our long drive back home, I shared so many things about the book with Beloved while he drove that I finally began to read the pages aloud to him. To my surprise, he enjoyed the story as much as I did and so for the two-day drive back to Denver, I read aloud until my voice grew hoarse.

When we got home, we had not quite finished the book but were eager to know the end, so that night Beloved invited me to snuggle on the couch with him and HE read the last chapters aloud to ME! 

It was not "Christian reading," but I would still give the book a G-rating. The artwork was superb due to her excellent talent and standards.

In addition to her delightful creativity, what may have been of the most benefit to me was to get a better understanding of the process a person experiences with serious heartbreak, loss, and the struggle to feel significant once again.  

I wish I could say she got through her ordeal in a close relationship with the Lord, but aside from some brief heartfelt prayers of gratitude sent skyward when things went well for her, there was no indication to me of a Christ-centered life.  

All the same, it was very good vacation reading.

Reading Susan Branch  on a warm spring afternoon


  1. I will have to check out those books, thanks Barbara. Have a joyful rest of the week, friend.

  2. The book sounds very interesting. I must admit to never knowing about her cookbooks or having heard about her before your post. How great that you got your hubby interested in the story! I can't read in the car at all. It makes me so sick. I also do all the driving, so I guess that's okay. Thanks for the review! I need to check her out now.