cover image LOSING THE GARDEN: The Story of a Marriage

LOSING THE GARDEN: The Story of a Marriage

Laura Waterman, . . Shoemaker & Hoard, $24 (336pp) ISBN 978-1-59376-048-9

On February 6, 2000, naturalist and mountaineer Guy Waterman kissed his wife of nearly 30 years good-bye and left to go die on a snow-covered New Hampshire mountain. It was the defining moment of the Watermans' complex marriage and the culmination of years of Guy's depression. Waterman's memoir is a paean to her husband, a deconstruction of their life together and a reconstruction of her life without him—and yet it never succeeds in making Guy likable. The two met and married in 1971. Drawn to the back-to-the-land movement, they embarked on a life of homesteading. For almost three decades, they lived in Vermont without running water, electricity or telephone. Waterman writes, "This was a life that embraced an extreme," and indeed, many will see the manner in which the Watermans lived, on less than $3,000 a year, lacking health insurance or other amenities, as unnecessarily harsh. Waterman's narrative moves somewhat disjointedly between her own life growing up and the various lives Guy led. It frequently addresses Waterman's conflict in giving herself over to Guy, who, a decade her senior, seems to have been emotionally rent even before they married. This sad, compelling narrative is evocative when discussing life in the wilderness, but less clear when traversing the terrain of the Watermans' marriage and the repercussions of Guy's depression and suicide. Agent, Christina Ward. (Mar.)