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At age forty, with two growing children and her consulting work just under way, Gretchen Cherington faced a deeply personal dilemma: to protect her parents’ well-crafted myths while silencing her voice, or to challenge those myths and find her truth—even the unbearable truth that her generous and kind father had sexually violated her.  

In this powerful memoir, aided by her father’s extensive archives at Dartmouth College and interviews with some of his best friends, Cherington candidly and courageously retraces her past to make sense of her father and herself. From the women’s movement of the ’60s and the back-to-the-land movement of the ’70s to Cherington’s consulting work through three decades with senior executives to her eventual decision to speak publicly in the formative months of #MeToo, Poetic License is one woman’s story of speaking truth in a world where, too often, men still call the shots.

Awards

2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award 1st Runner-Up in Memoir

2021 Eric Hoffer Award Grand Prize Short List

2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in Best Cover Design (Non-Fiction)

2020 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Finalist in Autobiography & Memoir

"Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Eberhart was a close friend of many years, a beloved colleague. I loved his genial personality and admired his unique poetic gift. He was a generous man but, as his daughter shows, a difficult and complex person as well. This is a vivid memoir, flaws and all, and Gretchen Eberhart Cherington has crafted a narrative worth reading closely."
--Jay Parini, poet, novelist, critic, and author of The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year

—Kirkus Reviews

"A timely and powerful debut. . . . Cherington writes about her past fluidly and with grace . . ."
--Paperback Paris

Gretchen Eberhart Cherington grew up in a household that—thanks to her father—was populated by the most revered poets and writers of the twentieth century, from Robert Frost to James Dickey, a powerful swirl that largely was a men's club.

Eschewing that world, Cherington spent her thirty-five year career advising top executives in how to change their companies and themselves.

What readers say