Dominique Browning used to be someone who had everything that she wanted. She was able to write two books that was widely known and was able to inspire. These were memoirs including meditations that are able to heal. “Around the House and in the Garden” was her first book explains how she healed herself through the help of her own house after her marriage of 15 years ended. Meanwhile there’s “Paths of Desire” which is a follow-up book where she introduced humanity and humor in her writing style. She rarely mentioned that for 13 years, she was editor in chief of House & Garden magazine.
Browning used to work in the 48-story Conde Nast building. She once experienced being summoned to the CEO’s office because they think that she is not wearing enough designer clothes. She once was asked too how long she was planning on wasting company money on car service while she was commuting going to work after she had a major cancer surgery. These peculiar events, among others, may have been what made her resign.
But it doesn’t end there. She lost her job when House & Garden had to close immediately. Moreover, the editor in chief of Architectural Digest, which is their toughest competitor within the Conde Nast publications, publicly announced that she would blacklist on her pages the supporters of House & Garden. That was something she didn’t see coming.
Losing her job felt like battling an illness or overcoming death for her. She lost friends, she was alone at home, and unemployed. She was not used to mornings not facing her computer monitor. Soon, she became angry and this was the only ingredient that was missing in her works. In her new book, a new character emerges whom she calls Stroller (which she wanted to initially call Walker due to the fact that he often walks away). Apparently, Stroller was a more forgiving choice and this was actually related to the baby stroller, since his family had an invention related to it.
Perhaps, the book’s central topic is waiting, which has many forms in the book. But this is not what she really wants to describe. She wants readers to see how routine is inhumane and how day to day schedules can drive us mad. Perhaps the best part of the book is how she describes how spirit triumphs over circumstance. Slow love is actually achieved by a process seemingly like the flip side of nostalgia. It is basically knowing what you have got before it is gone.
The book is basically a memoir on losing a job and shedding your old identity. She empowers those who are unemployed. From having a home outside New York City to moving to a vacation seaside house in Rhode Island, she was able to do gardening, bible reading, and piano playing. But the book is not really about unemployment. It’s much like a romance memoir which teaches self-resilience like Eat, Pray, Love.
About the Author
Dominique Browning writes a monthly column called “Personal Nature” for the Environmental Defense Fund website. She is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review and also writes for O, Body + Soul, Wired, and Travel & Leisure, among other publications. Before House & Garden she worked at the Edison Project, Mirabella, Newsweek, Texas Monthly, and Esquire. She is the author of Around the House and In the Garden, and Paths of Desire: The Passions of a Suburban Gardener. She is the mother of two sons; her new house and garden are on the coast of Rhode Island.