Maria Theresa Stadtmueller – Book Review
Happiness is Green by Donna Mulvenna

Profile Theresa Stadtmueller LE Mag Oct 2019

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Donna only daydreams of pulling up stakes and starting a new life, until an impetuous decision catapults her on a soul-changing journey in the Amazon rainforest. Tested mentally, physically and spiritually it is hard for her to feel lost in the wilderness when pure joy pounds in her heart. Written with stirring poignancy, laugh-out-loud humour and deep compassion, Donna captures her real-life experiences of isolation, challenges, and the true beauty of the Amazon rainforest where she taps into a wordless knowledge to recognise it was her wild self who coerced her to travel over ten thousand miles so it could unleash itself.

Mulvenna’s earlier book, Wild Roots, introduced readers to the life she adopted in Guyane. This new book has more stories of the author’s life, both before and after, and further inspiration. Reading this new book, it’s clear that the jungle agrees with the author and feeds her creativity. The narrator is humble, sensitive, and friendly, and shows great skill in introducing us to her world. No matter where you live, Happiness Is Green is a welcome read.

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Happiness is Green by Donna Mulvenna

Maria Theresa Stadtmueller is a writer and podcaster living on a permaculture farm in northern Vermont. She earned her MFA from the Nonfiction Writing program at The University of Iowa, where she also studied Christian history and theology, learning even more reasons why she doesn’t believe in it. She was a stand-up comic based in New York City and a writer for several colleges and universities. Her environmental nonfiction has been published in The Iowa Review, Dark Mountain, and other literary journals, and has also been anthologized by SUNY Press and in book Walking on Lava for Chelsea Green Publishing. She produced 25 episodes of the Big Chew Podcast, asking the question “How do we live on Earth without the Stupid?” and talking with scientists, artists, adventurers, farmers, and spiritual seekers. But some of it’s funny.

Donna Mulvenna is a horticulturist, whose journey as a nature writer began when she moved to the Amazon rainforest. Donna is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers, and the author of Happiness is Green, Wild Roots—Coming Alive in the French Amazon, and The Awe of Nature. She co-authored All Things Breathe Alike: A Wildlife Anthology, and is the co-editor of Tales of the River.  Read Donna’s work at

© Maria Theresa Stadtmueller