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The Geography of Love: A Memoir

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  • Posted September 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Touching Portrait of Love

    Me, oh my! I did not want to like this book. The first quarter, maybe even the first half of it, I really disliked Burgess but by the end of the story I was bawling and I dare anyone who has every loved to read this book and not end up staining its pages with tears.

    The problem with biographies are that they are peoples lives and who are we to judge and criticize? Then again, a person's gotta be honest. When I first received Geography of Love by Glenda Burgess I read the back cover and literally said, "Ugh, love." I'm of a cynical sort that just finds that blatant blabbering boring. I was, however, intrigued by the story of Ken Grunzwieg. The back of the book made it seem like Ken had all these 'demons from the past' or 'skeletons in his closet' that had to be dealt with; but don't be fooled this is an autobiography.

    We meet Glenda and Ken at the beginning of their relationship and follow them through the years and through the issues. This is where I'm going to get snarky. Ken seemed like a truly lovable and all-around great person. Glenda however reminds me of one of those women who at 35 have never really lived outside their little bubble. They can't except that their loved ones can have pasts that include living, breathing people they will never stop loving. She exhibits no tolerance for anything or any living person connected to Ken's life before her. I don't want to give away too much of the story but take for example Ken's relationship with Abby and Jordan. Here were two women Ken loved dearly. Here were also two women that Glenda dubbed as stand-offish, yet admittedly made no attempt to get to know or love on her own until forced to by her husband's illness. "He was asking the impossible of me a second time...I knew this request came from a special place inside him." (page 215) You're right it was a special place, like a father talking to a child it was the 'please be a grown-up and stop being so petty I'm dying for goodness sake' place. I know a woman with this unfathomable selfishness...I don't get it, give the man a break.

    Okay now that I've gotten that little gripe off my chest there is only one other tick I had about this book and that was the obscure mention of recipes, ingredients, traveling stories that went no where (i.e. didn't fit in with the title of the book) and just...well...a feeling of pretentiousness.

    Now for the good part. What you didn't think I liked the book? I read this one in a day, a clear sign it's still a winner. The description of Ken's love and their family touched my heart. The chapters filled with only one highlight of a life together and a sentence that covered years. That is life. The years seem to meld together into a routine that becomes so second nature and comfortable simple words describe it. Moments that are lived in seconds but feel like eternities.

    I don't want to go into details about the second half of the book, just know it gets good. In a Terms of Endearment but with a husband and wife kinda way. I leave you with this final thought, " In so many ways I had learned that the geography of human caring was far more complex than the simple topography of the family or love affair. And one gesture's reach, far greater than any of us could imagine." (page 236)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2008

    I have rarely read a book that has touched me on so many fronts

    With her beautiful skill with the English language, Glenda has shared with us the experiences of many lifetimes. It touches on so many aspects of our life journey with clarity, honesty, and wisdom. It shows how unconditional love can transcend and overcome the many hurdles and difficulties that life throws at us, how even the most difficult burdens can ultimately enrich us, how to live and cherish the present moment even as we cope with the deep echoes of the past and the uncertainties of the future. Thank you Glenda for this gift.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    For all of us who have loved another - like none other

    An extraordinary story of great courage and great love - told so exquisitely that you will find yourself remapping your own 'Geography of Love.' A stunning read that is impossible to put down - a book that will stay with you, with the power to shake you to the very roots of your own love for another.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2008

    In a word..Wonderful!

    The Geography of Love is a beautiful, moving, uplifting, and heartbreaking memoir. Glenda Burgess has given us a remembrance of her marriage, and her husband that carries such a core of truth that it is difficult to put it After a successful career with the State Department, Glenda has decided to return to the United States and start fresh. She meets a man, Ken, 13 years her senior who has already been widowed twice, his first wife died in a car accident, and his second wife was murdered in her bedroom while their toddler slept in the next room. His daughter has grown up emotionally scarred and her relationship with Ken is shaky and turbulent. With Ken¿s past and problems, most women would head for the hills, but Glenda had a sure belief that this could be good. Even though Ken had given up on the very idea of love, he too, managed one more leap of faith and together they built a life, a love and a wonderful family. Their faith and love would be tested in sad and painful ways, and yet, the love and devotion always manages to shine through. This is a very sad book in many ways it can bring you to tears at the most unexpected places. And yet it also can give you a deep sense of peace, a profound desire to have this kind of marriage, and a deep sense of gratitude if you already do. This was an ordinary happy family, and it¿s easy to see yourselves in the pages. Seeing how a couple can gain such strength from their relationship shows us that, perhaps we can all respond to the worst adversity possible with grace and dignity. Ken¿s compassion, consideration and kindness throughout the darkest of his days stand as an example to us all. The author¿s courage in reliving these times shows us yet another place to explore in the geography of our own lives.

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