I'm so sad to see this series come to an end. I've thoroughly enjoyed Anne's memoirs. She has left me wanting even more. Anne LaBastille is a true inspiration to this young woman. Smart, independent, strong, admitted her fears and weaknesses, and tackled her life and career head on. I've been absorbed in LaBastille's writing for the last year, and now I'm left wondering what could possibly top her books.
Woodswoman IIII is the last installment of LaBastille's wonderful memoirs. Unlike the first three books in the series, which each cover a decade of Anne's life, Woodswoman IIII only covers five years. Another thing that sets this book apart from the others is the fact that it has a Forward written by Christopher Angus, author of The Extraordinary Adirondack Journey of Clarence Petty. Readers will know Petty by the pseudonym "Albert" from Anne's memoirs. He was a very dear friend of Anne's. Fun fact: Anne actually wrote the Forward to Angus' book on Petty's life.
In Woodswoman IIII, LaBastille continues to write about her extraordinary life, detailing her experience as a self-publishing author and book seller, a harrowing night while teaching down South, the death of her beloved German Shepherd Chekika, and the pleasure of good friends. An excellent mixture of conversational and informative, Anne's writing is a delight to read. She has quickly become one of my favorite writers, a status she'll no doubt hold for the rest of my life.
I've said this numerous times, but it bears repeating, I love the way Anne writes about her dogs. She writes with love, respect, and admiration about her beloved German Shepherds. One of the chapters I enjoyed the most in this book was where Anne gave thoughtful, helpful tips on how to help the grieving process along after detailing the death of Chekika. She treats the death of a dog with respect and sensitivity, giving the love you felt for your beloved pet the dignity and understanding it deserves.
Another aspect of Anne's writing that I thoroughly enjoy is the fact that she makes sure she celebrates her friendships. She makes it quite clear that though she is a strong, independent woodswoman, she hasn't come all this way on her own. She has had the help of many devoted friends. I find her willingness to address the importance of friendships in one's life admirable. Too often people dismiss the importance of friendships in order to either build up an image of self sufficiency or to highlight the importance of marriage. Anne manages to show how one can lead an independent, self sufficient life all the while enjoying deep friendships that are mutually beneficial.
Overall, the Woodswoman series is a superb group of memoirs. I would highly recommend reading through these wonderful books, soak them up and savor them.
I give it a 9/10.
I have been slowly making my way through Anne LaBastille's excellent Woodswoman series, having read the first book in January 2018 and the second book in January 2019. The first two books in the series, Woodswoman and Woodswoman II: Beyond Black Bear Lake are available on Amazon, and I'd highly recommend them. Unfortunately, the third and fourth books in the series, Woodswoman III and Woodswoman IIII, are currently out of print and therefore hard to come by. Thankfully I was able to acquire both, though for a rather hefty price, but when it comes to books, I'm definitely willing to make the spurge (usually).
This series gets better with each book, in my opinion, because you learn more and go deeper and deeper into Anne's life and career. With each book, it seems that Anne gets more confident in being more open and vulnerable. Woodswoman III covers Anne's third decade living in the Adirondacks. Among the subjects discussed in this book are her beloved dogs, peddling her books, her farm, changing life at her cabin n the lake, and growing environmental concerns.
As with the first two books, my favorite chapters are the ones where Anne talks about her dogs, though sadly, because each book covers roughly a decade, they all contain a sad chapter covering the death of a dog. This one features the decline and death of Condor. The way Anne writes about the decline and death of her beloved dogs is absolutely heart-wrenchingly beautiful. She brings me to tears every single time. Though I cried my eyes out through these chapters, my heart is always quickly soothed by the following chapters that detail the arrival of a new puppy, in this book's case it is Xandor who joins LaBastille's pack. I admire LaBastille all the more for these chapters, her love and devotion for her dogs is palpable, admirable, and moving.
I also enjoyed the chapters in which LaBastille writes about finding, buying, and settling into her farm, Kestrel Crest Farm. At the current stage of life Anne was in while the writing of this book, she found the hard Adirondack winters increasingly difficult to live out in her cabin on the lake, especially while trying to conduct business. A million things could go wrong or keep her from meeting deadlines and fulfilling her business engagements. Therefore, she made a compromise: She'd live part time at the farm, and part time at the cabin. This allowed her a bit more freedom, and made life a bit easier, all the while providing more storage space, an important commodity for the business woman. The farm was still in the Adirondacks, but easier to get to, and provided different opportunities to observe the workings of nature and wildlife.
I thoroughly enjoy LaBastille's writing. Her willingness to share her vulnerability, particularly her fears concerning the arson of her barns on her Kestrel Crest Farm property and the break-in at her cabin. She built a life on an image of a strong, independent, brave woodswoman, yet she shows no qualms in sharing her fears, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. She shares how her fear from the arson incident left her cold and scared, and ultimately led her to resign as a commissioner in the Adirondack Park Agency. Her continued willingness to be real and honest is admirable.
Overall, this series is a superb bit of writing. It's among the best collection of memoirs that I have had the pleasure of reading. I'd highly recommend it.
I give it a 9/10.
I first stumbled upon Anne LaBastille about a year ago (in 2017) when I found her first memoir, Woodswoman, in an amazon search. Having grown up in the foothills of and having camped in the Adirondack Mountains annually for years now, the fact that she both lived in and was a certified guide for the Adirondacks intrigued me. I quickly read her first book and absolutely loved it. I found LaBastille fascinating.
Fast forward to this past summer (2018), my father gave me LaBastille's second book in her Woodswoman series, Beyond Black Bear Lake. I had stacks of other books that I had to read through before this one, books from authors and publishers that had to take priority, so I didn't actually have a chance to read it until just recently. It was certainly worth the wait.
Continuing on where Woodswoman left off, in Beyond Black Bear Lake LaBastille takes the reader through more of her life. She details the life of a freelancer and how she manages such a demanding, busy schedule all the while living off the grid. She explains how she deals with calls, mail, and invasive fans. LaBastile also shares her quest and journey to retreat even more into the wilderness and live the way Thoreau did over a 100 years before her, detailing the construction of her second cabin, Thoreau II.
I found the chapters in which LaBastille discusses her research on acid rain and its effects on the environment, particularly the Adirondacks, and her fight to keep nuclear waste out of the Adirondacks both fascinating and eye-opening. Other chapters I found most interesting were where she wrote about her dogs, the loss of Pitzi, which moved me to tears, and the gain of Condor and Chekika, and the bonds that she shared with these beautiful shepherds.
I highly recommend this book. It is a superb memoir, that also serves to educate the public on environmental concerns and conservation. Excellently written, well researched, Beyond Black Bear Lake finds LaBastille writing from her head and her heart.
I give it a 9/10.
I'm officially hooked on LaBastille's writing and will continue on in her Woodswoman series. Next up: Woodswoman III. ;)
I happened upon this book through a search on Amazon and it piqued my interest, so I took a chance on it. I’m glad I did because it was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting read. Anne LaBastille earned a PH.D. in wildlife ecology and was a Commissioner of New York State’s Adirondack Park Agency for over 17 years. She was a licensed guide specializing in wilderness trips. When she and her husband divorced, she needed a place to live. She found the ideal spot: a twenty-acre parcel of land in the Adirondack Mountains, where she built the cozy, primitive log cabin that became her permanent home. Miles from the nearest town, LaBastille had to depend on her wits, ingenuity, and the help of neighbors for her survival. She chronicles her adventures on Black Bear Lake, capturing the power of the landscape, the rhythms of the changing seasons, and the beauty of nature’s many creatures. Most of all, she captures the struggle to balance her need for companionship and love with her desire for independence and solitude.
LaBastille writes in a way that is enjoyable for the reader to read and informative. I found her detailed thoughts and plans regarding the construction of her cabin and maintenance of it fascinating. I couldn’t help but feel a kinship with the author when she spoke about her love and awe of the natural beauty of the Adirondacks and her desire/need for independence. LaBastille is real, honest, upfront, but respectful to her story and those who ended up in it due to their close proximity with her. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in wilderness, the Adirondacks, and overall just going off the beaten trail.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....