Clouse's Houses is such a wonderful and inspiring book. It was really comforting to be able to settle in and curl up with Carol's story. As I read through her book it truly felt more like a conversation with Ms. Clouse than reading a book.
She is so genuine when she discusses her family and the emotion radiates off of the pages. Her love and her respect for her mother is evident as she describes her mother's battle with polio which left her paralyzed, how she herself was her mother's "miracle baby" and how she was later joined by twin brothers. Despite her mother's paralysis she was a strong woman, they were a close family and seem to have maintained their close relationships. I did smile and laugh a little when she described playing tackle football and building construction projects with her brothers because I can relate. I had the same experiences with my brother and my older cousins. It was nice to have those memories come back as I read her book.
Ms. Clouse was also able to paint such great imagery with her words. At one point she described herself as wearing a short black mini-skirt sporting pink hair, light black lipstick and, I believe, paperclips in her ear all the while trying to work in the corporate world among men in suits and loafers. The conflict was apparent. It was such an exciting journey to read about how she finally connected with her inner artist and broke free of the corporate mold to realize her own potential and her own dreams. I could watch her evolution so clearly as she grew from the little girl whose mother pushed her to play outside in the rain, to her first camping trips with the Girl Scouts, to her uphill climb as one of the only female architecture students at Penn State, to her study abroad session in Europe and finally to her experiences in the workforce. It was truly a joy to read about her journey.
When I first received the request from Ms. Clouse asking that I read her book I was interested but also hesitant. I admit that I have little interest in architecture nor do I have any artistic talent of my own and I worried about being able to connect with her memoir but as I read through Clouse's Houses I realized that my concerns were unfounded. Her story is so much more than a book about architecture. It is a story about a determined young woman who was able to merge her artistic talent, her love of creating, and her passion for nature in to a fulfilling career. All along the way she mentions small anecdotes about her family and her romantic relationships so you are able to connect with Carol, the woman and not just Carol, the architect. At only 178 pages it is a very quick, and very enjoyable, read.