There’s an enchanting opening to this slim memoir from Diane Meyer Lowman. She’s recounting a lost love, a teenage crush she has never truly forgotten. It’s somebody she’s kept in sporadic contact with throughout her life. Somebody who is now calling to her. The boy she’s thinking of is called Will. William Shakespeare. Now, post-divorce, with her adult sons all grown up and long since flown, she is looking at her empty nest and realizing it is time to get back in touch with this man. And she does, as she explains, because her intention is, “to try to rekindle what we once had; to try to infuse my midlife void with meaning.”
To chase after Will, Lowman sells up her house in Connecticut and moves to the home of the bard, Stratford Upon Avon to enroll in an MA program at the prestigious Shakespeare Institute. THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (Seeing Myself Through Shakespeare’s Eyes) recounts her time as a mature student abroad but also covers more personal earlier memories of family life and relationships. A published poet, Lowman has an easy way with words and passages frequently sparkle. Sometimes literally, for example, on a moment recalled of the day her soon to be ex-husband moved out of their family home; “I touched the brushed nickel doorknob that opened the unlocked door from the garage to the mudroom. It may as well have shot Tesla coil orb bolts of electricity because I felt freedom and relief radiate through my fingers and up my arm.”
Though the book nods towards some of the intricacies of Shakespearean studies, and Lowman would certainly have been qualified to include more, it is certainly not a book about Shakespeare, nor England for that matter. The country the book is discovering is that of the author herself. A revelation of the self born from reflection on the work of another. Reflection is a key word. As Lowman re-investigates her own past the symbolism of the mirror recurs. Draped mirrors as in the Jewish mourning tradition. The blank mirror of the vampire. A mirror cracked, recalling Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’. Snow White and the Evil Queen. And finally the rear view mirror when she writes, “Warning: objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear. Maybe I was finally approaching myself.” A journey of self-discovery which is a pleasure to share.
Honest, warm and frequently witty, Diane Meyer Lowman’s THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (Seeing Myself Through Shakespeare’s Eyes) is an inspiring memoir of finding truth, revelation and inspiration in later life.
~Kent Lane for IndieReader