Do we want to see our idols laid bare? For years I admired Dominique Browning, her cool light-eyed gaze showing calm reserve from her monthly editor's letter for House & Garden magazine. I imagined her life full of wine-soaked adventures with professional bon vivant Jay McInerney; long days spent poring over beautiful photographs; travels around the world and encounters with notable celebrities. But what happens when the woman who seems to have it all loses the magazine that is the center of her universe? First, we learn, she eats, then she wallows a bit, then she at last she remakes her own life. Slow Love, recently out in paperback is the chronicle of that passage.
The comparison with Eat, Pray, Love is immediate and obvious here. But Browning isn't on an Elizabeth Gilbert-style world voyage full of dramatic moments. Her journey is small and quiet. Browning is a fine writer, good enough to make the slower parts of the book enjoyable and she is reassuringly humble. Where Elizabeth Gilbert spoke of finding God in India in Eat, Pray, Loveó Browning, when nights of sleeplessness eventually lead her back to the Bibleó states that she "does not have the temerity" to think she has found God. Like Gilbert though, Browning has a tendency to drown the reader in minutiae of love lost. Her relationship with "Stroller," a man seemingly bereft of appealing qualities, drags the book down and cast an unflattering shadow on the author's progression.
Browning's recipe for getting out of her post-job funk isn't one that is easily accessible to others. Her huge network of connections amassed from years under the Conde Nast umbrella and her own hinted at financial resources offering her a refuge that she seems only half aware of. What does translate well is how she takes lessons from nature, whether it is in her garden or in the tidal marshscape outside her door. And like nature and its relentless rhythms, this story doesn't sum up neatly. The reader is under the impression that this is only the beginning of Browning's new adventures, hopefully ones she will also chronicle with the same detailed and elegant style.
Slow Love is available now in digital and paperback at Barnes&Noble.com.