by Martha Cooley (Author)

Having lost eight friends in ten years, Cooley retreats to a tiny medieval village in Italy with her husband to recover from la strage, or "the massacre." There, in this sun-drenched paradise where bumblebees nest in the ancient cemetery and stray cats curl up on her bed, she examines what we all must confront one day, mortality: how to cope with our lost intimates and how to reckon with our own inevitable demise, yet she goes on, eating fresh fish from sea, drinking espresso, nursing both her memories and her dreams of happiness to come. Linking the essays is Cooley's escalating understanding of another, more painful death on the way—that of her ailing mother back in the States. Blind since Cooley's childhood, her mother's dry wit and refusal to be pitied leave them both stranded without a language to talk about her impending passing. But somehow, by the end, Cooley finds the words—each one graceful and wrenching.

Part memoir, part loving goodbye to an unconventional parent, Guesswork transforms a year in a pastoral hilltown into a fierce examination of life, death, grief, and—ultimately—release.

Book details

Publication date
April 15, 2017
Page count