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May 26, 1991|Charles Solomon

REBUILDING THE HOUSE by Laurie Graham (Penguin: $8.95). In this personal journal, Graham recalls how restoring a house in rural New Jersey became a metaphor for rebuilding her life after the death of her husband. Although they had owned it for years, the turn-of-the-century farmhouse was in a fearful state of disrepair: Some of the timbers had rotted; carpenter ants and termites were gnawing at the beams; the insulation had been installed upside-down; the overgrown garden resembled the forest guarding Sleeping Beauty's castle, and the roof and plumbing leaked. As Graham dealt with the various contractors, she learned that the house wouldn't collapse--and neither would she. Like the home she cherished, Graham proved stronger than she appeared. She discovered she had the strength to stand alone, independent of her late husband, without sacrificing the memories of their life together.

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