Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry; audiobook published by christianaudio Fiction and narrated by Susan Denaker
With Hannah Coulter, Wendell Berry has half made me want to live in Kentucky, which—all my Kentucky ancestors notwithstanding—was not even on my places-to-visit list. Susan Denaker doesn't so much narrate the book as become Hannah Coulter, telling the story of the people of rural Kentucky, who "keep on living" through the sorrows and changes brought by the 20th century. I found it spell-binding.
Denaker's skill, I think, helps save Berry from the hubris of writing a first-person narrative as a woman. He mostly succeeds, though there are places—most obvious when Hannah is talking about her children, or sex—when the point-of-view comes across more like a man trying to think like a woman and not quite getting it.
There is beauty here, and sorrow, and strength, along with places where I wished I could argue with Hannah: it might be a good choice for a book club, because there are several interesting discussion points.
I'd heard about Wendell Berry, but this was for me the first of his novels. There are several more about the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky that will probably be worth reading eventually.