Cover Image: Poetic License

Poetic License

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Member Reviews

Growing up in the 50’s/60’s with her poet father who is none to pleasant, it has to be said.  I found this autobiography far too self engrossed with what was basically a one off occurrence.  Yes it was traumatic for the author but pretty minor compared to what has happened and still does to other people on a daily basis.  As she felt so strongly and allowed it to affect the rest of her life, I wondered why she never confronted the transgressor.  Some parts of the book were interesting, the social history and there were a few funny parts but on the whole it was a bit pedestrian.  I realise I’m in the minority here!
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This memoir is written by Richard Eberhart's daughter and sheds light into the man that her father was in private.  Her bravery at bringing attention to who her father really was is brave and I am sure this was a difficult book to write.  The effects that her father had on her life is evident as you read.  Gretchen's journey is one that the reader will enjoy being on, as the writing is excellent.
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This was an interesting read. I try not to read much of the descriptions, before I read the book as I prefer to go in cold if I can, or close to it. I enjoyed following Gretchen as she shared what it was like growing up with her poet father as he wrote, slogging along and trying to improve himself as a poet and studying the old poets. She saw how he eventually made some headway in his career, writing poems that were recognized and gaining some visibility.

His career took off, book sales improved. He began winning different awards and attaining more prestigious posts as a result. It was her father with all of his fascinating friends that she wanted to know about and understand more. He was often gone on trips, going to visit his poet and writer friends and have a good time. She thought if she could figure out her father, she would understand herself. This became more important when they began having problems between them, her and her Dad.

It’s a complicated story of a family, and how their early years affected the rest of their lives. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, the author Gretchen Cherington, and publisher She Writes Press, for my unbiased review.
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This memoir was interesting but slow and, at times, drawn out. I enjoyed how it gave a childhood through adulthood perspective of the author.
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This was a beautiful memoir and journey, I’m amazed by the power and authenticity in Gretchen Cherington’s life and journey. I would recommend this memoir to others who are interested in how we remember history and who are up for challenging what we know or believe about others.  Thank you, Net Galley and Gretchen Cherington for this advanced copy.
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Cherington writes a compelling memoir. She relates the history of her parents, their meeting and marriage. For several years she delved into the papers of her father at Dartmouth, learning about his affair and other illicit activities while being lauded as a renowned poet. The author met many well known literary illuminati during her formative years. She had a complicated relationship,with her father and reveals a traumatic incident when she was 17. It's an interesting read.
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Poetic License by Gretchen Cherington is a powerful and surprisingly positive autobiography/memoir. I don't know that I will be able to do the book justice in explaining my feelings but I will do my best.

While who Cherington's father is plays a large part in why many readers will want to read this, understand that this is her story, not his. His life plays an even larger role in the story of her life than many other father's would, it isn't as a telling of his life that it is covered but rather to give us some idea of how Cherington came to understand his actions. But Richard Eberhart is a supporting character, not the main one. Keep that in the front of your mind here.

I think the tendency in some if not most books dealing with familial abuse is to paint the abuser in the worst light possible. Here it is more a case of using as much light as possible to illuminate the entire person (as compared to either just the abuser or just the adored public figure) and letting the reader decide if that presents an entirely negative image or a more nuanced picture of a terribly flawed person. I don't know if I would have been as even-handed in my presentation if I had been in her shoes.

Some who mainly read this because of the celebrated may lose interest when Cherington moves on with her life. That is a shame because the fact is Eberhart never leaves the story just as formative events never leave any person's life. The strength and real message of the book comes in the part of the book such a reader seems to gloss. How does one make sense of what is hard to understand? How does one not become bitter or completely distrusting of all men? And how does one reconcile the bad with the good within the very person such accounting should never have to be done? It is how Cherington lives her life and comes to understand what happened, as well as understand the perpetrator, where this book offers both ideas and support for those who may be grappling with similar internal battles.

The writing itself is wonderful. While we never completely lose sight of those childhood events that created internal doubt and conflict she also lets us see that her life is a lot more than just a response to those events. Humor, happiness, sadness, and of course conflict are all part of Cherington's life, often amplified because of the past, but always hers to own and turn to whatever end she believes best. And she is a very accomplished woman.

I highly recommend this for readers of autobiographies in general as well as those who might want a voice to help them know they are not alone. This is certainly no self-help book but it does, by showing how Cherington helped herself, shows that there are avenues for self-help even if they are different for each person.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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