A gazillion books have been written about getting away from it all, and I am wary of all of them because I agree with whomever it was (Maybe E.B. White? Google let me down) who wrote that when writers move to the country, even if it's just upstate New York, they suddenly go all precious and bucolic and start calling their children The Boy and The Girl. I overrode my suspicion, though, for Margaret Roach's getting away from it all book, "And I Shall Have Some Peace There," because its title is a line from one of my favorite Irish poets, the crazy, romantic, gorgeously talented mystic W.B. Yeats. I figured that the prose of anyone who quotes Yeats is worth a try.
William Butler Yeats
In a beguiling style with an idiosyncratic flair for language, Margaret (sorry if it seems too chummy to call her by her first name, but I feel like I know her now) tells the story of how she "popped the lid off a reservoir of yearning" and left a decades-long career in mainstream New York publishing. She was Executive Vice President, Editorial Director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the bosser of more than 150 minions, though she never wore Prada. Her destination was her weekend home and garden in a hamlet in New York State, where she went to live and work fulltime. She was childless, parentless, significant otherless, petless, salaryless, terrified of snakes and of dying alone, and in my opinion, brave as "H-E-double-toothpicks" (when I was growing up, we were not allowed to say "hell."). She'd been caterwauling about leaving for so long and to so many shrinks, she confesses, that "Even I was sick of me."
As the author says, the book is no Eat, Pray, Garden. Margaret doesn't gorge on pasta and then snag a sexy man (like that's gonna happen). A couple of old boyfriends turn up, but, in fact, nothing much momentous takes place, unless you call reclaiming your own life momentous, and I do. Roach is also the author of a nice garden blog, A Way to Garden: awaytogarden.com. Oh, what a difference an article makes. If it was The Way to Garden, I wouldn't want to read it, would you?
While we are at it, here is the Yeats poem Margaret's book title is taken from:
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
By William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade. And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray, I hear it in the deep heart's core.