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by John Q McDonald --- 10 February 2011

Iona Dreaming

The Healing Power of Place

by Clare Cooper Marcus

In her excellent book House as a Mirror of Self, author Clare Cooper Marcus explored how the houses we live in shape who we are and how we shape our homes. It was an in-depth examination of what our space says about us, and how it shapes our lives. Here, Marcus turns much more personal, in a memoir about the Scottish island of Iona and how its wind-swept landscape served as a place of spiritual and physical healing after she survived a life-threatening illness. In the early 1990s, Marcus retired from her career in the department of Architecture and Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. That in itself was a major life change. It was followed almost immediately by a diagnosis of breast cancer. During her treatment, (and her descriptions of the treatment are harrowing) she visualized the island of Iona as her place of peace and as containing the elements of healing she needed during her treatments. It was an island she'd visited before, and this book encapsulates a long stay on the island after her cancer. There, she reflects on her life, the themes of nature in support of healing, and on the importance of place in our lives. She tells us of her upbringing in Britain during World War 2, of the people in her life, and of the path she had taken to Iona in her retirement. She also relates her experience with the power of dreams to reveal the unconscious mind, its priorities, its understandings that elude us in our conscious life. What results is nothing less than a personal and spiritual awakening to the landscape of Iona, and to the power of dreams. The book is full of descriptions of the stark and beautiful landscape of the island, and Marcus's personal experience with it. The stories she tells are deeply personal and revealing. Ultimately, too, her story is powerfully moving. It is an emotional book, full of vision and compassion, quite beautiful in its reflection on life, health, sickness, healing and, yes, death. Highly recommended.

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Also by Marcus: [House as a Mirror of Self]

[Other books by Women Authors]

[Other Memoirs and History]

[Other books on Place and Architecture]