Book Review

Review: Book captures 'hum and buzz' of Berkshire summers

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"The Hum & The Buzz" by Joy Douglass is a wonderful story made up of many stories from four decades of inn keeping at one of the most beautiful spots in all Berkshire County. It is a festival of many unique events, people and things that come with summers running a guest house, right on Stockbridge Bowl. The place is the Douglass House and every page of this memoir has Berkshire summer bliss and adventure written all over it.

The book is really a collage of an extraordinary life on a celebrated lake and a community of fascinating and sometimes famous people. There is a lot to read in these pages about human nature, the power of music, connections to Tanglewood, and adventure sport in the way of rowing. The story is also about real teamwork, where people find each other, work together toward positive goals, and of course, form life-long friendships.

The book is structured in vignettes that commence chronologically from when Joy's husband, Chet, purchased Douglass House while visiting from Boston in 1978. Joy was, after being stunned for a moment or two, actually very pleased, especially after visiting the property. The stories proceed orderly through adventures running an inn, connecting with the summer world on the lake near Tanglewood, and, of course, a whole host of wonderful guests and employees.

One story stands out in this book for which I do not want to give much and spoil the ending: It is beautiful that the author has preserved this one later in the book. Let's just say this vignette is about a couple of guests, Marlese and Bernard, who arrive by pure chance, imagine they do not know each other, and through their introductions are miraculously and profoundly reunited. This is one of many great true stories in this volume referred to as a Douglass House happening.

One such "happening" is when the author is coaxed by Bernie Ryan into learning to row an Alden Ocean Shell and her life is transformed in an instant on the lake. Rowing becomes a passion and a devotion in her life. The author has since been deeply involved in recreational rowing and competitive rowing. It is one of so many great stories and there are really nice illustrations and

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photographs. The author demonstrates an extraordinary memory (clearly heartfelt), as well as fine organizational and design skills.

Joy and her whole family were deeply connected to the music life at Tanglewood and the big names we all know from that era who at one point or another were involved in music lessons with her children at the highest levels.

Summer is when the author must return every year for "the hum and the buzz," at Douglass House. She writes, "Something is happening at Douglass House, and I don't want to miss it!" You

won't want to either. This book is the perfect fit for remembering summers in the Berkshires. Note: This review is of course not listing the famous Douglass House, tried and true, recipes for scones and muffins. You must buy a copy of "The Hum & The Buzz" for these secret treasures!

Colin Harrington is the Events Manager at The Bookstore & Get Lit Wine Bar in Lenox. He welcomes reader comments at


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