You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir

Written by:
Maggie Smith
Narrated by:
Maggie Smith

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
April 2023
7 hours 48 minutes
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NPR Best Book of the Year • Time Best Book of the Year • Oprah Daily Best Memoir of the Year

“A bittersweet study in both grief and joy.” ­—Time

“A sparklingly beautiful memoir-in-vignettes” (Isaac Fitzgerald, New York Times bestselling author) that explores coming of age in your middle age—from the bestselling poet and author of Keep Moving.

“Life, like a poem, is a series of choices.”

In her memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful, poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself. The book begins with one woman’s personal heartbreak, but its circles widen into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, traditional gender roles, and the power dynamics that persist even in many progressive homes. With the spirit of self-inquiry and empathy she’s known for, Smith interweaves snapshots of a life with meditations on secrets, anger, forgiveness, and narrative itself. The power of these pieces is cumulative: page after page, they build into a larger interrogation of family, work, and patriarchy.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful, like the work of Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk, and Gina Frangello, is an unflinching look at what it means to live and write our own lives. It is a story about a mother’s fierce and constant love for her children, and a woman’s love and regard for herself. Above all, this memoir is “extraordinary” (Ann Patchett) in the way that it reveals how, in the aftermath of loss, we can discover our power and make something new and beautiful.
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Suzy C.

I felt like Maggie gets me. This is a memoir where she is sharing her story from her perspective. It was the book I needed right now. She’s so real and her writing is inspired and fun to read. The way she wrote the book was unique in how she keeps recurring themes as the story progresses. Personally, I will reread this book again in the future.

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Disappointing. A flat and uneventful story about a woman who's deeply stuck in victim consciousness and it never gets better. The diary of a bitter divorcee who you never understand because she intentionally omits the important details (and even tells you so). She says things like 'I'm not going to tell you X, because you don't deserve to know..' Seems she published a novel just to make her ex husband pay, and it's honestly no wonder he didn't want to be married to someone so rude and small minded. I finished the book in hopes she'd come around and it didn't happen. Waste of time.

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