Dorothy Gilman remains one of my favorite writers. She was the beloved author of the Mrs. Pollifax series of spy/adventure novels, as well as a number of single-title mysteries. From the time I read Gilman’s A Nun in the Closet, I was hooked and went on to read, and re-read, everything she wrote. Not that I find every novel of hers particularly outstanding, but I have found every one of them classically well-written and to possess something special, some insight and delight within the pages.
Gilman’s A New Kind of Country was published in 1978, and is her autobiography of sorts. It is not about her writing life, but a book of essays about her experience of moving to a cottage and acreage on the rugged, isolated, and beautiful Nova Scotia coast. It was her daring to do this big thing as a woman on her own, her pride in earning her own money to do it, and her search for something she couldn’t fully name at the time.
“We’re collectors, each of us, for all of our lives, collecting years, illusions, attitudes, but above all experience, and to me it seemed very simple: I wanted a different kind of experience.“
I think of my collection of years and experience, and I smile. I’ve had grand experiences, and many not at all grand. Yet even those horrendously painful experiences have made me what I am. And I believe many of us come to a time when we choose, whether we realize it or not, our experiences.
I relate to Gilman’s journey as a woman on her own. Certainly my purchasing a travel trailer and hitting the road on solitary camping journeys correlates to Gilman’s adventure in hieing off to the wilds of Nova Scotia. Within A New Kind of Country, Gilman opens windows on herself and her views of life, and her writing provides, as does all good writing, windows to more clearly see ourselves. I think it might be said that getting up each day and facing this changing and turbulent life on earth is quite the adventure. One need not even leave home to do so.
A book dating from the mid-70s, A New Kind of Country remains so much in demand that prices for the paperback edition range upwards of over $300, with the most common price being between $55 to $65, shipping included. I balked. Yes, I’m thrifty. The Kindle edition can be had for $7.99