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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

Rules for Visiting

"'Consider the word visit. It’s from the Old French visiter, which meant 'to inspect, examine, or afflict.' You can visit a neighbour or a friend, but so can plagues and pestilence.

And Travel. It’s from the Middle English travailen, which meant originally 'to toil or labor; torture.' So clearly traveling to visit friends should not be done lightly.'"

I find that in Autumn I am often drawn to books that are more reflective. Maybe it's because I tend towards an inward focus as nature begins to move more inward and underground? It's a nice theory, but I'm not so sure. I came upon Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane, somewhere on Instagram, not sure where because this book is a few years old and IG tends to highlight the newest releases. But I thoroughly enjoyed this exploration of social behavior, and the imperative to connect with friends. Here's a summary from the author's page:

"A beautifully observed and deeply funny novel of May Attaway, a university gardener who sets out on an odyssey to reconnect with four old friends over the course of a year.

At forty, May Attaway is more at home with plants than people. Over the years, she’s turned inward, finding pleasure in language, her work as a gardener, and keeping her neighbors at arm’s length while keenly observing them. But when she is unexpectedly granted some leave from her job, May is inspired to reconnect with four once close friends. She knows they will never have a proper reunion, so she goes, one-by-one, to each of them. A student of the classics, May considers her journey a female Odyssey. What might the world have had if, instead of waiting, Penelope had set out on an adventure of her own?"

May lives a quiet life at home with her 80-year-old father, an emeritus English professor who still goes into his university office each Thursday, and is full of stories about their neighborhood. She seems to feel a little stuck in her life, with no pressing interests beyond plants and trees. When May sets out on her travels, she is ripe for transformation. This is a fun, quick read that felt perfect for Autumn.

Audiobook 6 hrs, 34 mins, Paperback Hardcover 304 pages

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