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The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction

The Late Interiors( Arcade Publishing, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, May 2011)

On the cusp of mid-life, Sandor explores the wonder and fragility of a new marriage, an old house, and a new garden threatened by unexpected urban development. Comic and serious, spontaneous and reflective, The Late Interiors tells the story of five seasons of change and renewal in a woman’s life, braiding entries from a garden journal with short meditations and full-blown essays on our eternal—and contradictory—hunger for adventure and refuge.

The most soulful garden book—also out of Oregon, a testament to more good things emerging from all that rain—is Marjorie Sandor’s memoir The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction. This book covers her passage into middle age, as she falls in love with a colleague, leaves her husband, shares custody of a daughter through adolescence, buys and renovates a house, fights off a ravaging real estate development and packs up the contents of her aging mother’s beach house. In his mid-40s, her lover undergoes terrifying emergency double bypass surgery. Sandor sits in the hospital and listens to the suction machine, “oddly comforting, a little like the small stone fountain at home.

Through it all, she gardens—and proffers nimble meditations on healing, friendship, literature, architecture and music. The faded green of old wallpaper brings to mind “the sharp intense odor of the arroyos” of her Los Angeles childhood, and with it, a smell “that makes me almost dizzy with longing, … geosmin, literally earth smell.” Her gardening mirrors her writing habits: “I putter, make little gestures in a disorganized way, … and eventually … something appears.” You won’t find design advice or planting tips in The Late Interiors. What you will find is a simple answer to the question, Why bother? Over the centuries, around the world, we have always come home to one truth: Gardening sustains life, love and happiness.
—Dominique Browning, New York Times Book Review

Building, in the face of transience and mortality, is the dominant theme holding together the beautiful, delicate latticework of The Late Interiors—building a garden, a marriage, a stake in the community, a structure of grief and, not least, a book. It is a privilege to be left to wander in this author’s ever-curious, lively mind and to share her luminous discoveries.
—Phillip Lopate, author of Getting Personal: Selected Writings

Sandor is a keen and responsive observer of both people and places, and she chronicles this tumultuous year in her family’s life with a lyric appreciation for tradition and change, adventure and comfort, desire and acceptance.
—Carol Haggas, Booklist

Marjorie Sandor envisions ‘sanctuary’ not as a quiet, calm retreat from the world, but as passionate attachment, where everything in near reach—family, home, garden, community, writing—is alive and tender, fearsome, and graced with abundance.
—Lia Purpura, author of On Looking