The Sweet and Sour Life with Beth Howard
by Georgia Sampson
Photos by Gabby Estlund
On February 8th, Beth Howard, an Iowa native, world traveler, and talented writer, came to Prairie Lights to show off excerpts from her new book, “Hausfrau Honeymoon.” Howard read a couple portions from her book, which speaks on her life in Germany and the life changes she made as she fell into the role of “Hausfrau,” or housewife.
Howard referenced her two other books, “Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie” and “Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bold Tales from the American Gothic House,” the story of what happened after she and Marcus left Germany. She noted that “Hausfrau Honeymoon” was the precursor to the second two books.
“You never reach a place where that’s the end. You know that expression: the journey is the destination? It’s not like you ever arrive at a place and that’s your happily ever after. If there is one lesson you can take away from this [story], it’s that it just keeps going,” Howard said. “You just have to keep trying. You just have to keep the faith and keep going. Life throws you a smackdown. You just have to figure out a way to get through it and keep going. So, I might just have to keep writing more books.”
The reading was filled with emotion, witty remarks and pie. Howard, who is known for memoirs that hold her mix of cooking and reflection, began the night by serving up slices of her famous pies, which many members of the audience inhaled.
However, despite Howard’s impressive baking, the real star of the reading was her new novel, “Hausfrau Honeymoon.” The book details Howard’s move to Stuttgart, Germany after her marriage to Marcus, a German automotive executive. The book shares her feelings of isolation while living in Germany. Howard referenced throughout the reading that, while she took German classes and attempted to learn German, she continued to feel a barrier between herself and Germany. Some of that was due to the culture gap but she mostly attributed her discomfort to her inability to fully understand the German language.
“One of the things that I hope people will take away from this book is that we need to have more compassion for people who don’t speak our language,” Howard said.
This was an obvious reference to the stark political climate and Trump’s continual calls to build a border wall. Many of the audience members nodded in agreement showing their support for more compassion to those who are not necessarily US natives.
Howard tells her tale in a relatable, seemingly upbeat way. She presents the ups and downs of living and loving abroad. In her writing, Howard is able to let the audience in on every thought and eccentricity of her life so that no one misses a beat. “I think that we are just meant to keep sharing,” Howard said about her writing. “Whether it’s pie or whether it’s our stories, it is just to help each other feel less alone in the world and that’s why I keep writing.”
Howard continues to spread her relatability and joy through pie and through writing, which she keeps up with on her blog. She is also pushing other young writers to do the same in her upcoming workshop on February 22nd, 23rd and 24th.