Have you ever read a book so expertly woven together you were physically unable to put it down? Where you told yourself you’d go to bed after “this paragraph”, which turned into “this page” and finally, “this chapter.” Have you ever been so fortunate? I have – and the one I’ve just consumed, The Story of Beautiful Girl, by Rachel Simon, might be the tastiest novel I’ve ever read.
Although people often seek me out for advice, when it comes to my own world and the chaos I tend to unearth, my brain offers no answers smothered in common sense and iced with instructions for change. When I need solutions, I read. I was delighted to find such remedies in “The House On Teacher’s Lane” by Rachel Simon. It’s one of those essential books which has enlightened my views and given me the instructions which I had been searching for: a new blueprint for the redesign of myself.
If you went searching for this brilliant and insightful book by Rachel Simon, you would most likely find it among the memoirs. I’m certain that an inexperienced book seller may have problems, however. Why? This book is a myriad of stories woven together through the process of renovating a house. Is it a self-help book? Possibly. Is it a guide to the restoration of a building? Perhaps. Could it be used as a marriage manual? I think so. Does it explore difficult relationships and the search for one’s true self? Most certainly. Is there anything this book isn’t good for? Yes, it would be a poor instrument with which to light fires.
Ms. Simon’s strength in this book, aside from the poetry of her phrases and word choices, is that her tangents make complete sense. A memoir encompassing her past, present and the future self she would like to envision sounds rather complicated, and yet it isn’t. Through the skeleton of the book, the process of renovating a house, the reader comes to understand that the rebuilding of oneself is just as tricky, time consuming and risks as many perils. There is no insurance to cover a broken heart or a family dysfunction which may never be resolved. The scaffolding required to find your footing after your world collapses is not found at the local lumber yard. An architect cannot revamp the views which outsiders see when they first enter into your realm of being. And, thankfully so, those jobs are always of the “do it yourself” variety.
This book is the story of one woman’s struggle to manage all of that and so much more. It not only offered me an apprenticeship on how to create my own blueprints, it entertained and inspired me as well.
on a personal note, i am desperately anticipating Rachel’s new book which will be released on may 4th, 2011 & is available for pre-order now. it’s a work of fiction entitled “The Story of Beautiful Girl”. i’d love to tell you all about it, but i think Ms. Simon could do a much better job….
Photo of Rachel was taken by Anne Knoll and used with Ms. Simon’s permission. It is such a lovely photo, please visit knollphotos.com to view more of her work.
Rachel has also authored “Little Nightmares, Little Dreams” – a collection of short stories, “Riding The Bus With My Sister” – a memoir which became a movie for Hallmark Channel, “The Writer’s Survival Guide” – the excerpts which I’ve read are brilliant, and “The Magic Touch” – her first fictional novel which was published in 1994.