Cover Image: We Loved It All

We Loved It All

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Known for her award-winning fiction writing, author Lydia Millet (Sweet Lamb of Heaven, A Children’s Bible), here turns her lyrical style to the memoir and while not perfect, the results are enchanting and deeply moving. Only loosely structured, the book flows through thoughts and recollections that vary in length from a single short paragraph to several pages, each just long enough to convey its intended idea in eloquent prose. The focus isn’t solely, or even primarily, on her own life however, as she allows her thoughts to roam across the nature of humanity, our worries and fears, the beauty of the world around us, and most importantly, the peril we have put it in.

The free-flowing and non-chronological arrangement can sometimes make it feel like she’s just rambling, especially towards the book’s midsection, but she proves adept at tying her thoughts together when needed to drive home a particular point. It’s charming to read about some of the more outrageous events she’s experienced, often relayed with a friendly wit, and her inner thoughts are often easily relatable (“I’ve always felt I look better in mirrors than in photos. Whenever I have to look at a photograph of myself instead of a mirror image, it feels like my familiar home has just turned out to be a hovel.”), keeping the reader easily engaged.

But despite (or perhaps because of) all the rhapsodizing over the beauty of nature and the joys of a life well-lived, there is a deep well of sadness that permeates the book. Millet, like many of us, can’t help but look at the wonders that exist around us and feel a sense of loss, knowing that the choices we’ve made as a species will likely lead to the erasure of much of it, and that her own children or grandchildren may only ever hear of it as a remembrance. Every time she catalogs one of the amazing creatures that are being driven to extinction, the sense of awe her writing inspires is also paired with mourning over their pending disappearance. She does evoke some hope that perhaps humanity will course correct in time, and if more people appreciated the incredible gift we’ve been given maybe we might. But if our world is fated to become nothing more than a memory, at least it’s been captured as beautifully as it is here.

Was this review helpful?

I am quite conflicted on this one. I adored Dinosaurs by this author , fell in love with Millet's writing style and was delighted to get the opportunity to read this book. Again, her writing completely blew me away and I really enjoyed the memoir elements of this book. I also have huge admiration for her passion , commitment and advocacy for animals and the eco system, however, as fickle as this may make me sound, I don't know how much I enjoy reading about same and so while parts of this book fascinated me, I did struggle with other parts and skimmed certain sections.
. This is wholly on me and no reflection on the author or the book, it just wasn't for me. If you have a strong interest in nature and /or in endangered species , you will love this book.

Was this review helpful?

I love Millet’d fiction, and these essays deepened my love for that fiction. While some worked better than others for me, I ended up ultimately very moved.

Was this review helpful?

We Loved It All: A Memory of Life is author Lydia Millet's first work of nonfiction. Comprised of three free flowing essays, the book centers on living through climate change. Millet draws from her personal life, educational experience and work with the Center for Biological Diversity to make the compelling case for us as both individuals and society to reconsider our practices and the systems that support or incentivize them.

Each of the essays ("When the Perfect Comes," "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory" and "Ring the Bells") Include chapter sections and paragraphs. The paragraphs range from a short few sentences to multi page, sometimes feeling very much like a conversation. While they have an overall course and theme linked to climate change and Millet's life experiences, they are otherwise wide-ranging. They draw from scientific literature, politics, history, popular culture and many other sources. The personal frequently serves as the entry point to a wider discussion that draws in the other sources to support the point to be made.

Millet is as engaging here as in her fiction, and while there is much levity, especially when she reflects on some of her early career jobs like being a proof reader for a publisher of men's magazine that included Hustler. However, the essence of the work is much more somber and deeply concerned with mortality and the world those currently living will leave behind.

Recommended to animal lovers, book clubs with a civic bent or those looking for an introductory text to some of the challenges of climate change. It is concise, but full of potential discussions.

Was this review helpful?

I thoroughly enjoyed this reflective book of non-fiction by Lydia Millet. She writes on nature and conservation, biodiversity, motherhood, and society in such an engaging way. She brings the reader in with her curiosity about the world. She approaches each topic with a sense of wonder and inquiry, inviting readers to join her in exploring the complexities of our environment and society. This memoir by Lydia Millet combines intimate portraits of flora and fauna with personal reflections, making for a genre-defying, emotionally resonant read.

Was this review helpful?

I really appreciated this personal essay collection by Lydia Millet. Her writing on nature, motherhood and us as a society is very engaging. There was moments that really resonated with me and others I found beyond fascinating. The audio narration was very well done. Millet writes as if she is talking directly to you which makes it even more of a personal experience. Beautiful writing by a talented writer of our time. If you have picked up other works by Millet I think this one will surprise you in a good way, unique and thought provoking.

This one worked really well for me on audio! Most NF/Essays/Memoirs do.

Thank you Dreamscape Media 🎧
Releases 4/2

Follow me on Instagram:

Was this review helpful?

This book engrossed me from the very first page. I love how Millet frames her exploration of what it means to be human through her experiences as a mother, and through the experiences of the animals we share this planet with. It was in turns hopeful and tragic. It will stay with me for quite awhile, and I intend to go back and re-read it to further examine the emotions it brought up. Part memoir, part nonfiction, this book of essays led me through Millet's life alongside a strong message for conservation. If you're at all interested in environmentalism, or simply want to feel connected to our planet and fellow humans, this one is for you.

Was this review helpful?

I was given an advanced reader copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was a little disappointed as I thought the the author missed the mark with the execution of this book which seemed like a rambling of thoughts. Too bad, as I thought there were some interesting and thoughtful points to be made.

Was this review helpful?

Huge Lydia Millet fan and couldn't wait to grab this up and peer into her thoughts.

A very personal series of essays, Millet intertwines her own story amongst that of conservationist. Her experience and training is vast, as she studied at the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, She actually utilized her first payments as an author to attend graduate school. In three connected chapters Millet shares much about her life, her family and her hopes and dreams. She writes as she is speaking directly to you, and I enjoyed that immensely! If you are interested in an incredibly gifted writer explaining nature in a beautiful manner this book is for you!
#wwnorton #weloveditall #lydiamillet

Was this review helpful?

This book should be mandatory reading.

So much relevancy and passion about the state of our ecosystem, it felt like parts were a love letter to Mother Earth and other parts a deep manifesto on how we can and should do better on an environmental level.

This reminded me a bit of Braiding Sweet Grass, it had enough of a biographical component with knowledge surrounding nature. Highly recommend for anyone into climate fiction and non fiction alike.

Was this review helpful?

We Loved it All wasn’t quite as interesting as I had hoped it would be: part memoir, part lament for disappearing species, I found this to be a tad dense and esoteric. Author Lydia Millet does include interesting facts about her family (her father was an Egyptologist and his father a globe-trotting diplomat), herself (she used the advance from the sale of her first novel to go to grad school to study conservation), and Americans in general (“a 2021 Pew Research poll suggested half of US adults are unable to read a book at even an eighth-grade level”), and she includes interesting facts about the deadly pressures we’re putting on animals and ecosystems, but the writing wasn’t always clear to me: not clear at the paragraph level or in its overall intent (I think this is meant to prove that storytelling is an important part of activism?) I admire Millet for what I’ve learned about her here — in addition to being a celebrated novelist, she has spent decades as an advocate for endangered species at the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson — and I can agree that she is uniquely poised to comment on the connection between storytelling and activism, but I found this to be a bit of a slog, despite being interested in the topic; other readers’ experience will no doubt vary.

Was this review helpful?