This is a stunningly beautiful book on many levels. Susan Wittig Albert is probably best known for her China Bayles mysteries, and she also writes the Cottage Tales Mysteries featuring Beatrix Potter and the Darling Dahlia mysteries, about a garden club in the South in the 1930’s. With her husband, Bill, she co-wrote a series of Victorian mysteries as “Robin Paige”.
AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS is her journal of 2008, a daily account of her life, work, and changing perception about issues such as climate change that seem far away, but, in reality, affect every day of our lives. The journal talks about her writing schedule — the China Bayles mystery she’s writing, the one that’s in edits, the one that’s released — her Cottage Tales schedule, the spark of the idea for the Darling Dahlias series, and the production process of her memoir, TOGETHER ALONE. She demonstrates how a working writer shows up and gets the work done, without sacrificing the small joys of daily life. She revels in the daily life of 31-acre Texas property and the house in the mountains of New Mexico.
With intelligence that’s both gentle and sharp, she reads voraciously, inquisitively, and applies what she learns to both work and life. This book is wonderful for writers at all stages of their careers, for women entering a new phase of life (the journal covers her sixty-ninth year), and for anyone who is interested and/or believes in stewardship of the land. It is personal, conversational, passionate, and wonderful. She has quotes from her reading running along the margins, and offers both a monthly reading list and an extended bibliography in the back.
The book was released in 2010, by the University of Texas Press. I first read it in 2011, and re-read it over the past few days, gorging myself on this glorious feast of words.
Visit her website for more information about her books here.