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Glen Ellen author releases memoir

Elisa Stancil Levine shares her story of trauma, entrepreneurship, and the power of resilience

When the Sonoma Complex fire came to Elisa Stancil Levine’s California doorstep in 2017, her world changed overnight. The devastating fire torched thousands of acres, but for Levine, a world-class decorative artist, it was her reaction that cracked her wide open. A loving wife, mother, and grandmother, the author thought she had reckoned with her early childhood trauma. But when she fled the midnight firestorm without alerting a single neighbor, she had to ask herself: “Who does that?”

In her powerful new memoir, This or Something Better, [She Writes Press, June 7, 2022] Levine revisits her past and her source of true kinship: the wild river. Nature, her lifelong ally, provided her solace when she faced secret abuse beginning at two years old. Through teen pregnancy, her baby’s stillbirth, and a mystical near-death experience, nature shaped her character and later informed her wildly successful career. But was there an unintended consequence? What treasure might await if Levine could learn to trust human nature?

Vivid, poetic, and intimate, in This or Something Better Levine invites each of us to consider and embrace our own path toward wholeness and authenticity. “Transformation is my wheelhouse. As a colorist and pattern designer, I transform interiors of buildings. As a writer and an avid reader, I know transformation can also be sparked by words on the page. I hope that is what This or Something Better will bring to readers.”

“In this beautifully written memoir, Elisa Stancil Levine … explores the combination of surrender and decisive action, trust and wariness, solitude and human connection, intuition and painstaking self-inquiry, grace and sheer hard labor that lie at the heart of the great mystery of human resilience,” Noelle Oxenhandler, author of The Wishing Year, wrote in a review of the memoir.

Levine and her husband live on a ranch on Sonoma Mountain and spend hours hiking, horseback riding, and running in the forest. Meditating, travel, kayaking, mentoring, and lecturing about color and pattern are current endeavors. This or Something Better is Levine’s second book. Levine’s essays have recently appeared in Entropy Magazine; Stirring: A Literary Review; Penmen Review; and Writer’s Workshop Review.

Levine’s color and pattern design have been featured in every American design magazine, on the cover of Architectural Digest numerous times, in Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Veranda, Town and Country, Vogue, California Home, Luxe, newsprint, and social media. Levine is a former board member of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art and former board member of Creative Sonoma.

Readers’ Books will host a reading and book-signing on June 9, at 6 p.m., at 130 East Napa St., Sonoma. You can preorder the memoir at Readers’ Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. For more information, visit or connect with her on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook.