New York Times calls it a novel (but the library calls it short stories)--and the book explores the characters back in Amgash, Illinois, Lucy Barton's hometown.
But I connected in a special way when I got to the story "Snow-Blind," with its Annie Appleby character, an actress.
"She had recently, though, had fantasies of 'going normal.' Having a house and a husband and children and a garden. The quietness of all that. But what would she do with all the feelings that streamed down her like small rivers? It was not the sound of applause Annie liked--in fact, she often barely heard it--it was the moment onstage when she knew she had left the world and fully joined another. Not unlike the feelings of ecstasy she'd had in the woods as a child."
I didn't know it was called "going normal," but I did this, and not just in fantasy, leaving the Chicago stage to marry, raise kids, and have a patch of garden in our backyard and then actually going to Normal, Illinois to let the kids grow all the way up near a set of grandparents. (Now they live and work in Chicago, and one is headed to new adventures in California very soon. I think we did OK.)
And side by side with this imagined life is the ecstasy of my real life, my own backyard with its rabbits and chipmunks and squirrels and wrens and cardinals and occasional hawks, its cone flowers and balsam and Rose of Sharon, and its great night sky.