Coleman at Left Bank Lyceum

Mar 20, 2014
Melissa Coleman

Belfast — Left Bank Books will host Melissa Coleman, author of the New York Times-bestselling memoir “This Life is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone,” as guest speaker Sunday, March 30, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Her appearance is part of the bookshop’s annual Winter Lyceum series.

Coleman was born in 1969 to parents who were “back-to-the-landers.” Eliot and Sue Coleman had moved from New Hampshire to Maine (Cape Rosier) the year before to start an organic farm and emulate the homesteading lifestyle of Helen and Scott Nearing, the legendary gurus of sustainable farming. They bought uncultivated land adjacent to the Nearing’s farm and vowed to live a life of hard work and strict discipline — in other words, “the good life,” as defined by the Nearings in their iconic book.

Using only hand tools, Eliot built a cabin for $680. They had no electricity, no running water, no phone … but by their second summer on the land, they had a baby daughter, Melissa. Within a few years, two more girls joined the family and Greenwood Farm was a thriving, although labor-intensive, enterprise. Then tragedy struck, and things fell apart.

That unraveling is at the heart of Coleman’s tender, nonjudgmental, and heartfelt memoir. She revisits both the sublime and tragic events of her childhood, chronicling her family’s unconventional life that saw her spend summers naked and barefoot in the woods, picking berries, milking goats and talking with the chickens. She roamed the countryside unsupervised and immersed in the natural world. As an adult, she writes not only of those idyllic summers before tragedy struck, but also her yearning to be a “normal” little girl.

Left Bank Books has wanted to Coleman at the shop for more than three years. The public is cordially invited to hear her speak at the bookshop, located downtown at 109 Church St. Paperback copies of Coleman’s book will be available for purchase and signing, as well as some of her father Eliot Coleman’s organic gardening titles and several books by the Nearings. To reserve any books in advance, call 338-9009. The event is free, but space is limited; to reserve a chair, call or email Light refreshments, some of which will be organic, will be served.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

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