Mysteries of Love and Grief
by Sandra Scofield

Texas Tech University Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0-896-72941-4.
Reviewed by Amy Hale Auker
Posted on 02/10/2016

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: American Women in Their Cultural/Historical Context; Nonfiction: Elders

As an author, I am always aware of how much design matters. Scofield's new book, Mysteries of Love and Grief: Reflections on a Plainswoman's Life, is beautifully designed. I would have picked it up on the merit of its cover alone.

Within the beautiful cover lies a journey that is intensely feminine, an examination of the author's grandmother's life as well as her relationship with most of the women within her family. And nothing could be more complicated than how we relate to our mothers, our grandmothers, and eventually, our own daughters. While an obviously cathartic journey for the author, the story is also universal in its reach into the generations.

My only complaint is that the title is misleading. I thought I was going to read about a true plainswoman, living a life on the land. Scofield's upbringing and her grandmother's life was more a hardscrabble township existence. Still, the reader is drawn into this discontinuous narrative simply to find out where the author is headed since at times she seems not to know where she ended up, and is finding herself in the writing.

The author's tendency to dip into her previous writings for answers is unique and indicative of how many of us who live a life of words find the answers to our own questions.

And finally, one of the best gauges as to how to view a book just closed is to ask, "Am I glad I read this?" And the answer to Mysteries of Love and Grief is a resounding yes.

A Native Texan, Sandra Scofield divides her time between Missoula, Montana, and Portland, Oregon. She has written seven novels, a memoir, and a craft book for writers. She is an avid landscape painter.

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