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The Field House: A Writer's Life Lost and Found on an Island in Maine

By Robin Clifford Wood


[Wood's] passionate prose and carefully curated primary sources will certainly convince readers that Field is not a writer to overlook.
An eloquent, detailed tribute to a less well-known but inspiring author."

--Kirkus Reviews


“I just finished this lovely book and feel richer for it. Meticulously researched and deeply felt, THE FIELD HOUSE is a compelling hybrid of biography and memoir. An exploration of the life and legacy of novelist-poet Rachel Field, it is interwoven with personal reflections that reveal the influence of Field’s work ethic and passion on the biographer’s life. This book is also a meditation on the nature of creativity and a love letter to a house on Sutton Island in Maine once owned by Field and now by Wood. For both writers, the house became a touchstone and a haven, a place to reflect and rejuvenate and create.” 

- #1 New York Times bestselling author Christina Baker Kline


 “Before I read this book, I had never known Rachel Field. And now? I’ll never forget her.”

--Allen Adams, The Maine Edge


“I suspect this extraordinary book will be one of the best you read this year. It will surely be one of mine.”

--Mary Jo Doig, Story Circle Network



"This elegant hybrid of biography and memoir introduced me to Rachel Field and Robin Clifford Wood, whose lives, separated by generations, uncannily twine. Compelling, instructive, inspiring, and beautifully written. I was greatly moved."

-- Award-winning author Monica Wood, author of The One-in-a-million Boy, When We Were the Kennedys, and Any Bitter Thing.


"Robin Clifford Wood has combined immense archival material and keen insights to create a detailed and enchanting biography of Rachel Field. The author's skillful use of granular sources, paired with her sophisticated wordsmithing, has produced a book that is both informative and lyrical. Readers will also appreciate the author's parallel discussion of the writing process itself - an articulate discussion that will undoubtedly seem familiar to anyone who has ever struggled to discover and tell a story.
This is a delight to read."

--Historian Jacalyn Eddy, author of Bookwomen: Creating an Empire in Children's Book Publishing, 1919-1939.


I highly recommend Robin Clifford Wood’s enchanting The Field House, her intensely personal reckoning with the life and work of the nearly forgotten author Rachel Field.  Famous in her lifetime for bestselling novels for adults and children, winner of Newbery and National Book Awards, Field lived less than half a century but left plenty of evidence for her biographer to explore—in archives across the country, and in the Maine island cottage they both called home in a curious twist of fate that enabled this charming and heartfelt narrative. 

-- Pulitzer Prize-winner Megan Marshall, author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast.



"This wonderful book--based on meticulously thorough, devoted research--is a lovingly tender, wise, and judicious account of Rachel Field and her world.  Its unusual blend of memoir and biography helps to illuminate the life, even as a poignant dialogue between the author and her subject unfolds. Truly, a tour-de-force!"
--Benson Bobrick, award-winning author of Angel in the Whirlwind and Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution it Inspired.



This fascinating book about the life of Newbery Medal-winning author Rachel Field lives at the intersection of seamless research and rich personal reflection. Robin Clifford Wood offers such insightful, knowing details about Field’s writing life and her personal attachment to Maine, that we come to feel we are reading the account of a close friend. Wonderfully executed, The Field House renders Field's extraordinary life with great empathy and beautiful, lucid prose.

--Critically acclaimed author Susan Conley, author of Landslide, Elsey Come Home, The Foremost Good Fortune, and Paris Was the Place.



The Field House lures readers to ‘a long-abandoned, wood-framed house on an island off the coast of Maine.’ When author Robin Clifford Wood buys a summer cottage belonging to famed poet and award-winning author Rachel Field, Wood is haunted by Field’s sudden death, her untold stories. Discovering treasures and clues Field left behind, Wood weaves a stunning and intimate portrait of a once-prized American writer and poet who deserves to be remembered. 

-- Pulitzer-Prize winner Barbara Walsh, author of August Gale: A Father and Daughter’s Journey into the Storm and Sammy in the Sky 



"Robin Clifford Wood's biography of Rachel Field is a beautiful and thorough history of an artist and writer with important connections to Maine. In THE FIELD HOUSE, Wood doesn't back away from the complexity of Field's life: self-doubt, aspirations, flaws, triumphs, unrequited loves, and final losses. And yet, this book is also a clear-eyed survey of the literary world of the 1920s and 30s, Maine island life, and a woman who, transcending gender roles and notions of physical beauty, offered the world a gift that, because of Wood's deeply personal book, will hopefully never be forgotten.” 

--  Jaed Coffin, author of Roughhouse Friday and A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants