Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"An Unknown Woman" by Alice Koller

We've just had a wonderful week up at the cabin. Lots of solitude and quiet, with plenty of time for reading. When I was at the Cozy Corner Books and Coffee in Bellingham, I found An Unknown Woman by Alice Koller (currently out of print but available several places online). It's about a woman who chose to live in an isolated place in order to discover more about herself. That has a familiar ring to it. Alice Koller chose the shores of Nantucket in winter, I'm up the lake in British Columbia - not too different except they're on different coasts and in different countries. But let's not split hairs.

Alice was highly educated, a doctorate in philosophy, but troubled by her relationships, especially with men, and difficulty in getting a meaningful job. So at thirty-seven, she embarks on a voyage of analysis and self-discovery. Her tools are isolation with minimal distractions, sorting through letters and memories of the past, and thinking and writing to discover connections. Alice takes all of her savings to rent a cottage on the shores of Nantucket during the winter off season. Her only companion is a new puppy she names Logos. He will be her only living contact for "reasoned discourse," so she memorializes his importance with this term from her philosophy background.

In her isolated cottage and on desolate beaches with only her puppy, Alice lays out her past for critical examination. The book is about where she came from, the paths she took along the way, and where she might end up. During the months of her quest, she reached emotional highs and lows, and at one point even considered suicide. But before she runs out of money (and time), she makes some startling discoveries.

I enjoyed reading An Unknown Woman for several reasons. First of all, I liked her writing style. It was open and honest. I learned from her experiences and how she approached her self analysis. It was also interesting to see how someone else lived in an isolated place with minimal contact with the outside world. (OK, I know Wayne isn't a puppy, well, at least most of the time.) And it gave me an example for writing about your own life. Somewhere in me there is a book, but it just isn't ready to come out yet. -- Margy


  1. That sounds like a great book. I have first dibs on your book when you write it.I know it will be very informitive and entertaining.
    Your Friend Betty

  2. Sounds like an interesting book. I am not in isolation here but sometimes feel that way---my own making of course---and delve into my brain and discuss with myself my life and things I would change if I wanted too--or--why I haven't. LOL
    I like your blog and your choice of life style. MB


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy