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Friday, April 16, 2010

Eye Of My Heart - Barbara Graham - A Review

I have the distinct pleasure of reviewing Barbara Graham's New York Times Best Seller, "Eye Of My Heart," a collection of 27 writers who reveal the hidden pleasures and perils of being grandmothers, recently released in paperback! But, first, here's a little insight into the author/editor.

Barbara Graham Bio:

Until my granddaughter, Isabelle Eva, was born in 2006, I had no clue just how complicated—and full of wonder—the role of grandmother could be. But when I turned to the place I always turn to for wisdom—books—I couldn’t find anything literary that addressed my alternately joyful, perplexing, painful, amusing—but always profound—new status. And so Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother was born.

I have been working as an essayist and journalist for twenty-five years. Some of the magazines in which my articles have appeared are: O, The Oprah Magazine (where I’ve been a contributing writer), Time, More, National Geographic Traveler, Food & Wine, Glamour, People, Redbook, Self, Tricycle, Utne Reader, and Vogue. I’ve been very lucky to have met editors who share many of my preoccupations—children (and now grandchildren), death, insomnia, food, impossible mothers—and they invite me to write about these subjects.

I trained as an actress and in my twenties I began writing plays. My work has been produced at theatres around the country and in Europe, and published by Dramatists Play Service. Two plays, Jacob’s Ladder and Camp Paradox, were produced Off-Broadway in New York City at the WPA Theatre, and another play, Polishing Silver, was commissioned by the Actors Theatre of Louisville. I have been playwright-in-residence at Trinity College, Hartford, and a resident fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts.

My early resume also includes (but is not limited to) stints as a nude model at the Art Students’ League in New York; cocktail waitress at the El San Juan Hotel in Puerto Rico; batik artist (for which I had zero talent) in Topanga Canyon; spaghetti western typist at a dubbing studio in Rome; and my personal favorite, publicist for an outpatient leprosy clinic at a hospital near San Francisco. Many of my jobs lasted only until lunch.

I have a son, Clay McLachlan, an exceptional photographer, who with his wife, Tamar, and my granddaughter, Isabelle Eva, the eye of my heart and the inspiration for the book, divide their time between Paris and Italy.

Author photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt

"Eye Of My Heart" review:

This collection of passionate, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes funny stories begins with a beautiful introduction by Mary Pipher who's own grandson, A. B. is the "somersault king of Nebraska."

Did I get your grandmotherly attention with that little nugget? All our grandchildren are special in one way or another and "Eye Of My Heart" brings out the compassion, joy and pain of being Nonna, Nana, Oma, Sooz, or Grandma.

Intriguing titles such as, How I Got To Be The Queen of England, by Elizabeth Berg, and The Owie Tree, by Sandra Benetiz makes this book a must read regardless of which path your grandmotherhood has taken. And, then Déjà Vu chronicling the fear, depression and resentment that Marcie Fitzgerald faces in raising her psychologically-challenged grandson, the son of a daughter, incapable of raising her own child.

In the title piece, Eye of My Heart, Barbara Graham faces the pain of separation from her two-month old granddaughter, Isabelle Eva, when her family moves back to Paris. Her Buddhist teachings helped her cope with the realization that she's "non-essential personnel" in her granddaughter's life. Many of us can relate to that uncomfortable, but sometimes freeing realization in the lives of our grandchildren.

In Roxanna Robinson's story, Nana, she comes to grips with the fact that she isn't in charge; she can adore without being responsible. She says, "It's like being told you no longer have to eat vegetables, only dessert—and really only the icing."

"Eye of My Heart" is pure icing. Chocolate fudge, at that!

To read more about Barbara Graham, click here for a recent interview.

To order the newly released paperback version of, "Eye Of My Heart" on Amazon

To read more about Barbara Graham, visit her website


For more Women Only Over Fifty thoughts & stories:

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Eileen Williams said...

I loved your review of this touching and true compendium of grandma stories.
We seem to follow along the same path because I'll be interviewing Barbara on Feisty Side of Fifty Radio soon. The book is a must read for those of us who are blessed with grandchildren. My first is coming in June and I can't wait!

Mary Cunningham said...

First - Congratulations on your first grandchild!! Mucho hugs!!

I agree about Barbara's book. The stories are so touching - some heartbreaking, some funny - All real life.

I'll be sure to tune in to your interview. Can't wait to hear what she says about the book.

Thanks for your comment, Eileen.

Diana Black said...

Oh, Eileen, how EXCITING!! There's nothing like a grandbaby...aaaah...

Can't wait to hear your interview with Ms Graham. I'm looking forward to reading the book, too.

Finally, just a hint: Do not keep financial tabs on how much you spend on the new grandchild!!

Hugs. Diana

Sharon said...

Sounds like a perfect book I'll need to read. We are expecting my first grandchild in July! I knew it could happen, I'm not sure I was ready, but the closer it gets....a gggrandbabyyyy. :) What could be more beautiful?

Mary Cunningham said...

How great, Sharon! Congratulations on your first grandchild. You and Eileen have something in common. :>)

Thanks for stopping by.