Reviews

“10 Best Books of June” —Christian Science Monitor

A narrative that reads like a captivating novel...Hers is a voice not found often enough in literature – a woman who eschews the prescribed role outlined for her by her family and discovers her own path. “

–Joan Gaylord, Christian Science Monitor

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“ROUGH BEAUTY indeed. The passages about fire knocked my hat off. Terrifying yet lovely. Karen Auvinen is an American maverick. Vital, wild and true. 

— Luis Alberto Urrea, Author of The House of the Broken Angels 

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This beautiful and elemental book is an invitation into a life of nature and ritual. Karen Auvinen sinks into the seasons, watching the world turn from her isolated mountain home, battling loneliness and her own stubborn self, but through contact with the natural world–including the neighborhood bear—achieving moments of illumination and profound truth. 

There are many books about seasons in the wilderness but this is one about a life in it….Rough Beauty has the power to change lives. It stands as an antidote to the brittle and the electronic, the hurried way we rush through our days.

— David Gessner, New York Times Bestselling author of All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West 

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Rough Beauty offers a glimpse into a life that’s pared down to its essentials, open to unexpected, even profound, change.

When Auvinen first set out to live on Overland Mountain, she believed that her “commitment was not to a person but to a place: “…I placed my bet on landscape, putting all my chips on wildness.” But for all its focus on mountain living, what this memoir really seems to be about is the difficult terrain of human love and connection.

— Tucker Combe, Brevity Magazine BrevBr

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[In Rough Beauty], Karen Auvinen shares rich details of mountain life: “Living wild succinctly arranges priorities: You make food, take shelter, stay warm,” her life lived “like a ritual, equal to meditation or the ritual I had of writing down weather and birds each morning.” This breathtaking memoir honors the wildness of the Rockies and shows readers how they might come to rely on their animal companions.

Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review

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wrenchingly evocative memoirIt is a story of loss, but it is also a story of transformation, of finding shards of hope among the ashes and moving forward with gratitude and grace and courage.

— James Campbell, author of Braving It and The Final Frontiersman

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Rough Beauty shimmers with the risks and rewards of living on the edge of an unforgiving natural world which, like an angry god, wields destruction in the form of fire and flood, but also offers healing and rebirth for the strong of heart.

— Mary Clearman Blew, author of All But the Waltz and This Is Not the Ivy League.

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OUTSTANDING!  Rough Beauty charts a decade of life “ordered by weather and wildlife”  [as Karen Auvinen] explores solitude, traumatic events, and a deep commitment to place on the Front Range of the Rockies.

The author has served a long apprenticeship—sensing life’s patterns, becoming embedded in a human community, learning to give and receive love—and the result is a beautiful story of resilience perfect for readers of Terry Tempest Williams. A fine example of the hybrid nature-memoir.

—  Kirkus, Starred Review

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Tender and sincere, Rough Beauty is a lovely tribute to inner strengthAuvinen’s moving memoir recounts the process—from her mother’s illness through the loss of her beloved dog, Elvis, and even to a new romance—through which [she]n comes to terms with the limits of her control and endurance. 

— Bridget Thoreson, Booklist

 

Detail of Peeper Pond by Greg Marquez

Reviews

“ROUGH BEAUTY indeed. The passages about fire knocked my hat off. Terrifying yet lovely. Karen Auvinen is an American maverick. Vital, wild and true.

— Luis Alberto Urrea, Author of The House of the Broken Angels

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This beautiful and elemental book is an invitation into a life of nature and ritual. Her existence scoured to simplicity by a home-destroying fire, Karen Auvinen sinks into the seasons, watching the world turn from her isolated mountain home, battling loneliness and her own stubborn self, but through contact with the natural world–including the neighborhood bear—achieving moments of illumination and profound truth. At the center of the rituals that make up this mountain life–including walks in nature, meditation, and gourmet dinners—is a high priest named Elvis, a white husky who is tethered to Karen by devotion (and the occasional leash) and fills her days with love, teaching her that she isn’t quite the tough loner she fancies herself to be.

There are many books about seasons in the wilderness but this is one about a life in it. Henry Beston wrote: “The world to-day is sick to its thin blood for lack of elemental things, for fire before the hands, for water welling from the earth, for air, for the dear earth itself underfoot.”  Not Karen Auvinen’s world. Rough Beauty has the power to change lives. It stands as an antidote to the brittle and the electronic, the hurried way we rush through our days.”

— David Gessner, New York Times Bestselling author of All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West

 

Detail of Peeper Pond by Greg Marquez