Sunday Book Review – The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow – WWI #FamilySaga

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Since my husband’s passing I have had difficulties reading books for pleasure. My focus has solely been on surviving grief and reading many recommended books along the way that I ran to in search of some kind of comfort.  Regular ‘programmed’ reading had taken a big back seat, which leaves me well behind my reading goals, but I’m thrilled to share my first book review for a book I began reading during my husband’s illness and had to abandon, but have recently completed reading – The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow. I loved all books I’ve read by Judith, and this one didn’t disappoint. The lull in completing to read this book was due to my grief, in no way a reflection of my interest in the book. Read my 5 Star review below.

 

 

The Heart Stone by [Judith Barrow]

Get This Book on Amazon!

 

Blurb:

1914. Everything changes for Jessie on a day trip to Blackpool. She realises her feelings for Arthur are far more than friendship. And just as they are travelling home, war is declared.

Arthur lies about his age to join his Pals’ Regiment. Jessie’s widowed mother is so frightened, she agrees to marry Amos Morgan. Only Jessie can see how vicious he is. When he turns on her, Arthur’s mother is the only person to help her, the two women drawn together by Jessie’s deepest secret.

Facing a desperate choice between love and safety, will Jessie trust the right people? Can she learn to trust herself?

 

My 5 Star Review:

This is a beautifully written heartfelt story that takes place during the beginnings of World War I through 1921. It’s the story of love and war and the people whose lives are affected, painted beautifully with imagery and prose by this talented writer who is known for her heart-wrenching family saga historical fiction storytelling. It’s a story about struggles, love, hatred, abuse, survival, and highlighting the strength of the women left to endure.

Jessie and Arthur are best friends since childhood, now teenagers at the tender age of 16, who’ve discovered their friendship has blossomed into true love, Arthur decides he must enlist to join the war, despite his not being of legal age yet.

Jessie’s widowed mom runs a bakery and Jessie works alongside her mom to run the store, but at the news of upcoming war, quite a few bakers enlisted, leaving mom with the decision to marry Amos Morgan, head baker, who Jessie detests and remains puzzled why her mother would succumb to allowing Amos into the family business by marrying him.

In her own worries, Jessie and Arthur’s friendship turns into a romantic relationship just before Arthur announces he’s enlisted – under-aged, but the thrill of asserting his manhood calls, and he volunteers to join the fight with his country, England. This decision leaves Jessie distraught and tightening her bond with Arthur’s widowed mom, Edna, as they can share their worries and commiserate together.

Months pass no word from Arthur, but Jessie, now pregnant from their last goodbye stint continues to visit the the heart stone up the hill where they declared their undying love forever before Arthur left. Meanwhile, Amos the pig, married to Jessie’s mother, finds every opportunity to ‘touch’ Jessie. This was enough for her to revolt and move into Arthur’s mother’s home with her as a safe place and company to raise the baby.

Time passes and there’s no word from Arthur, but Jessie keeps in touch with her friend Clara, married to Stanley, Arthur’s best friend who also enlisted for war. Stanley eventually returns home – in a wheelchair, but home. Jessie travels to visit them in hopes to discover some news about Arthur.

Back at the bakery, Jessie’s mom falls ill and becomes bedridden, putting more pressure on Jessie at work – and more time around the pig, Mr. Morgan. After mum passes, Morgan takes over the bakery, even though it is rightfully in mum’s will left to Jessie, and that presents another interesting tidbit as to how he took over and what happened after; karma perhaps? And then suddenly, another baker, ‘old’ friend of Jessie’s, Bob Cleg, proclaims a sudden desire for Jessie. Somehow these two end up married – not in a good way, and a lot more dramatic things happen along the book to keep us turning the pages, and alas, Arthur returns home! This changes the dynamic of things to come now that Jessie is unhappily married to a man she can’t stand and the love of her life returns. And to find out what happens next, you are going to want to read this book!

©DGKaye2021

 

 

 

Sunday Book Review – My Baby Wrote Me A Letter by Jacquie Biggar

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m sharing my review for this heartfelt #Shortstory by Jacquie Biggar – My Baby Wrote Me A Letter: – An Inspirational Women’s Fiction Short Story. Jacquie was inspired to write a story about a true article she came across. Read on to learn more!

 

 

Blurb:

A family’s brush with the past will threaten the very foundation of their lives.

Eight months pregnant and her Navy husband away on a mission, Grace Freeman craves the security of her childhood home in Canada.
When a letter written by her long-lost mother is found in an old writing desk it creates a tear in the fabric of her family.
Can Grace find a way to bring peace to those she loves, or will a message from the past destroy their future?

 

Introduction:

In the beginning of this book, Jacquie tells us what inspired her to write this book. She was inspired by a news segment she watched where a woman bought an old desk at a yard sale. When she got it home and began refurbishing it, she found a letter taped to the back of a drawer. After reading the letter, the woman thought she should search for the author of the letter to inform the family. She told the story on Facebook and it led to the son of the man who wrote that letter long ago. He was dying of cancer and wanted to let his family know things in case never given the chance. Turns out the man survived cancer and lived to not only see his children again, but his grandchildren.

 

My 5 Star Review:

How could I read this intro and not read this book? What a tender-hearted story Jacquie wrote in a fictionalized version of a true happy ending story.

Grace goes home to Canada, carrying child, where she craves the company of her family while her husband serves in the US Navy as they await the arrival of their baby. Her mother disappeared when Grace and her brothers were still children and their father, Ray, was stationed in Viet Nam working as a journalist. Ray travels with his daughter Grace to Canada and brings a letter along that he found underneath his desk after many years had past.

A lot of uncertainty and some painful questions and assumptions remain about Graces mother’s abandoning of her children, until Ray shares the letter he discovered with his children that was left by their mother. Lessons learned – never assume. There is always a ‘why’ to questioning the motives of people.

A bittersweet and quaint family short saga that isn’t short on packing a punch and tugging at the heart strings. Of course I’m not going to share what was in the letter, you will have to enjoy the read to find out!.

 

©DGKaye2021

bitmo live laugh love

 

 

 

Sunday Book Review – Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump

My Sunday Book Review is for one of the Best Selling books of 2020 – Mary Trump’s tell all – Too Much and Never Enough – How my family created the world’s most dangerous man.

I will preface my review here by saying that this book was a beautifully written memoir-ish lowdown about Mary’s life, growing up Trump, family horrors and dysfunct.

The story takes us into the lives of several Trump members. We learn how disobeying will get you disowned – like Mary’s father Freddie Jr., the makings of DJT, how he got himself into the public eye, his manipulations and unorthodox tactics, and a deep look into his lack of morals and compassion and narcissism with Mary’s analysis on the reasons that influenced DJT to become who he is. With almost 29,000, 4 and 5 star reviews for this book, it commands attention, not just for Americans but globally because what happens in the US often affects the world.

My review below is probably the longest one I’ve written, but I included a lot of pertinent quotes from the book. And there were many faceted stories that I tried to encompass as snippets and highlights. This isn’t a fairytale with a happy ending, but stories about one dysfunct family of broken people where power and money takes precedence over human emotions.

The review below is quite lengthy at over 3K words. I’ve written it as more of a synopsis for those who wish to learn more about the Trump dynasty and how it evolved with central characters and points candidly shared by Mary Trump.

 

 

Blurb:

In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.

Mary Trump spent much of her childhood in her grandparents’ large, imposing house in the heart of Queens, New York, where Donald and his four siblings grew up. She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse. She explains how specific events and general family patterns created the damaged man who currently occupies the Oval Office, including the strange and harmful relationship between Fred Trump and his two oldest sons, Fred Jr. and Donald.

A firsthand witness to countless holiday meals and interactions, Mary brings an incisive wit and unexpected humor to sometimes grim, often confounding family events. She recounts in unsparing detail everything from her uncle Donald’s place in the family spotlight and Ivana’s penchant for regifting to her grandmother’s frequent injuries and illnesses and the appalling way Donald, Fred Trump’s favorite son, dismissed and derided him when he began to succumb to Alzheimer’s.

Numerous pundits, armchair psychologists, and journalists have sought to parse Donald J. Trump’s lethal flaws. Mary L. Trump has the education, insight, and intimate familiarity needed to reveal what makes Donald, and the rest of her clan, tick. She alone can recount this fascinating, unnerving saga, not just because of her insider’s perspective but also because she is the only Trump willing to tell the truth about one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families.

 

Note: This review contains slices of just some of what’s revealed in the book. And since it’s not a novel, and more like a tell-all written style, with events leading up to the eventual writing of this book, much of the review is taken from context in the book. Facts could be considered spoilers for some.

 

My 5 Star Review: 

I’m giving this book 5 stars – certainly not for the subject matter, but because Mary Trump’s excellent and easy writing and presentation, and her courage to write and publish this book.

The book begins with a quote from Victor Hugo in Les Miserables: “If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.”

The prologue takes us into a visit to the WH by the Trump family in honor of celebrating sister Maryanne Trump’s birthday, a place to show off as DJT adds “This place has never looked better since George Washington lived here.” Yes, the WH didn’t exist when Washington was president.

The story begins with Mary sharing a conversation she had with her Aunt Maryanne when Maryanne stated, “He’s a clown.” They discussed DJT as a faded reality star and failed businessman that would surely doom his run for president. Nobody in the family could conceive the thought he would get elected. Mary recalls how at every family meal Trump would disparage women, calling them denegrading names, and when he spoke of anyone more accomplished than himself, they were referred to as losers. Mary asserts that nobody in the Trump family except his children, supported his campaign.

Mary dives into the history of ‘the father’ Fred Trump and the heartbreaking story of how her father, Freddie Trump Jr.’s lineage was wiped out after Freddie’s tragic death in 1981.  We’ll learn how DJT’s reckless hyberbole hides his pathological weakness and how he became his own cheerleader. And she continues by saying that none of the Trump siblings were unscathed by Fred’s sociopathy, especially DJT and her father Freddie Jr. Mary also provides the evidence, as a clinical pyschologist, how DJT fits every criteria of being a narcissist and that he meets the criteria for antisocial personality disorder, sociopathy, criminality, arrogance and disregard for the rights of others. Mary delves into his pathological ways about dividing the country, petty revenge and his withholding of pertinent information. “Fred created the monster,” Mary adds, “There would be no love for Donald, just his agonizing thirsting for it.” And states that he is running the country like her ‘malignantly dysfunctional family.”

Freddie Trump Jr. died beneath Fred’s cruelty. Mary tells us the division her grandfather created among his own children, “…is the water Donald always swum in.” Mary continues to tell us that DJT understands nothing about history, principles, geopolitics or diplomacy and his presidency is purely financially motivated, thinking the US Treasury is his personal piggy bank. Mary adds that the events of the last three years compelled her to write this book because four more years of DJT, ” . . .would be the end of American democracy” with his hubris and willful ignorance, reminding that he had never had to negotiate alone.

“Donald, following the lead of my grandfather and with the complicity, silence, and inaction of his siblings, destroyed my father. I can’t let him destroy my country.”

Mary’s grandparents – Fred and Mary were absent parents. Mary – a mother who never knew how to comfort or stand up for her children, and Fred – a sociopath with a lack of empathy, a penchant for lying, indifference to right or wrong, and a lack of interest for anyone but himself, proving apples don’t fall far from the trees. The home, the children alienated from one another and their neediness housed a dangerous tension. Mary continues by saying DJT’s lack of mothering had him going to Fred for solace, becoming the source of DJT’s terror. His needs weren’t met and was deprived of love, which would become the scars of his life. So DJT developed  an increasing hostility to others. Eventually, Fred Trump championed the traits that made DJT unloveable.

Mother Mary was a frail woman with multiple illnesses that had her frequenting hospital stays. Fred was barely at home, out wheeling and dealing, using government loopholes to obtain loans and free money, to build his empire. From Fred’s father, down the line to all the Trump boys – nobody served in the military.

Mary and Fred Trump wed in 1936 and moved to Queens, N.Y. Mary migrated to US from Scotland. She went from being live-in help to running her own household, although Fred was the boss, and she became quick to judge others who came from her same beginnings. Fred became well-connected with politicians, the mob, and government handouts for his building projects. Fred set up ‘trust funds’ for all his children, a parking spot to avoid paying income tax. With plenty of government funding, Fred was building on the taxpayer’s dime. Other than for business, Fred was known as a miser with his money. Fred wasn’t humble and loved to show off. He loved to brag and send out press releases every time he completed a new project. (Sounds familiar.)

Fred wanted to prime his eldest son, Freddie Jr. to get involved with the business, but Freddie had other aspirations, which left 2nd son Donald to be groomed and Freddie to pay dearly for disappointing his father. For DJT, lying was a way to self-aggrandize, for Freddie, lying was his weapon of self-defense from his father. Weakness wasn’t tolerated by Fred and he abhorred Freddie’s gentle nature, and DJT followed in Fred’s footsteps.

Fred devalued and degraded Freddie for wanting to become a pilot instead of his yes man, and DJT relished in it, and this pleased his father. Sowing division is an old game for DJT, passed down from his father. The house rules dictated: be tough at all costs, lying is fine, apologizing and kindness is weakness, there can only be one winner and everyone else is a loser. Donald was a bully to his two brothers, and never reprimanded for it. Fred admired Donald’s disregard for authority. And encouraged by his father, Donald began believing his own bullshit. Freddie Jr. referred to his brother as ‘the great I am’. DJT drove his mother crazy because she couldn’t control him. He talked back to her, contradicted her, he was a slob, teased children and bullied them, and could never admit when he was wrong. His mother eventually sent him to military school, hoping he’d become a better person. We all know how that turned out. Father Fred had no use for the military.

Fred Trump was basically a slum landlord and taught his son Don how to do it. Freddie Jr. was appalled at his family’s behavior and did his own thing and paid for it dearly, eventually ostrasized by his father and the whole lot of them. According to father Fred, being a pilot was being a “bus driver in the sky”. The banishment and belittling of Freddie by his father was the beginning of Freddie’s alcoholism, and the eventual end of his pilot’s license, and ultimately, his marriage, overtime. Freddie lived in one of his father’s slum apartments and caught pneumonia from the decripit apartment in sore need of repair and drafty windows, and his dad even gave him a discount on the rent!

The Trump daughters had their share of rough times financially too, and they didn’t dare ask their father for help.

Heir apparent, used his connections with shyster lawyer Roy Cohn to get his sister Maryanne on the bench as a judge. Maryanne was a District Attorney in New Jersey at the time – early 80s. Cohn arranged with his buddy, then President Ronald Reagan. Why would Donald do something so kind? Because Maryanne did all his homework for him. But she couldn’t write his SATs for him, so, she told Mary he paid his good friend Joe Shapiro to write his entrance exams.

Fred knew his son Donald didn’t have the attention span to run his business, but made him president of Trump management. Fred thought his son had a lot of nerve, plus he was good at selling snow to Eskimos so Don came in handy for smooth-talking bankers and weedling his way into upper echelon circles. And the Trump rule was ‘no renting out apartments to black people’. This act got both Fred and Donald sued in 1973 for violating the Fair Housing Act – one of the largest federal housing discrimination suits ever brought to court. It was hired slime lawyer Roy Cohn who taught Donald to always fight back with a counter law suit to drag things out. According to the documentary I recently watched about Roy Cohn, he had similar values as Don the con – not paying employees and sliming people. Fred didn’t mind his son taking credit for Fred’s success because it was making them famous. In the early 80s, Fred began publicly giving Donald free reign because – ‘Everything he touches turns to gold”. Fred was the puppeteer who couldn’t get caught pulling the strings. By the mid 80s, Donald was losing lots of Fred’s empire so he had to intervene trying to mitigate the damage his son was doing, understanding he created a monster.

Donny boy created a fictional personna and stuck to the script to hang with the important people. Fred didn’t mind and kept the money coming for basically doing nothing except giving orders, NOT paying employees and taking credit for his father’s successes. His favorite word for all those beneath him is ‘loser’.

Fred Trump had zero compassion for anyone, including his family, even Donald. Mary shares events of past Christmas’s at her grandparents’ home, when her and her brother would receive ‘regifting’ or cheap-ass gifts like a package of underwear with the $12 sticker still on the pack from first wife Ivanna. And continued on about the the millions Don con siphoned from father Fred, especially for the Atlantic City casino that went bust. Fred even tried to help save it by having ‘someone’ buy 3 million dollars worth of casino chips and take them out of the casino to look like a loss and write-off.

Meanwhile, Freddie Jr got very ill. Having no money he shamefully went back home and was allowed to stay in a small room where he slept on a cot. When someone in that house finally cared to call Freddie an ambulance as he withered alone in the little room, he was pronounced dead not long after. And neither parent even bothered going to the hospital. Freddie was not even given a church ceremony. There was no will. Mary had to fight with her uncles over giving him the proper funeral. And that night at dinner, Donnie and dad discussed women, politics and best deals, like Freddie never existed.

Mary continues on about Donald’s money ventures, and who he slimed to build Trump Tower in 1980, built with ‘alleged’ mob money and was a continuing controversial subject in the media. By the early 90s, DJT was in debt for billions. But the banks kept on lending him money because, apparently, they felt abandoned projects would lose them more money, so they ‘banked’ on the Trump name and kept lending. This empowered DJT to think he could do no wrong and the money tree was always ripe for picking. New York’s elite dubbed Donald, ‘the court jester from Queens’.

When the banks finally did stop lending Don con money, Fred clamped down and only gave Donnie a monthly allowance that according to Mary – “was enough for a family of four to live comfortably for 10 years!” Mary states that Donald’s ‘talent for deflecting responsibility’, lying and cheating, was a trait he picked up from his father’s playbook.

As the bankruptcies kept on coming, Donnie devised a plan for more money. He approached his father’s lawyers and had a codicil added to Fred’s will – a great escape hatch for siphoning money alloted to his siblings. As Fred was halfway into dementia, Don got his father to sign. This would put him in charge of all Fred’s money upon his death, including his dead brother Freddie’s shares. But apparently, this didn’t pass ‘the smell test’ to Fred, even half lucid. Ultimately, a new will was made with Donald, sister Maryanne and brother Robert as executors, plus an add on, “whatever Donald got from Fred was to be matched to each child”. Sadly, that didn’t include brother Freddie, because, you know, he was already dead, so who cared about his family. Well, Mary Trump did! Sister Maryanne made comment if they hadn’t changed that will, they’d all have to be begging Donnie for money to buy them a coffee. Donald was under the impression that only he was important to his father.

In the late 90s, DJT asked his niece Mary if she’d ghostwrite his next book for him. Although she took him up on it, nothing developed because he would never sit down and work with her and gave her nothing to work with. Even though he’d given her one transcript of a recording he made as a ‘stream of consciousness’. It was an aggrieved collection of mutterings – about women who refused to date him, calling them the ugliest and fattest slobs he’d ever seen. Mary ripped it up and stopped asking him for interviews, and eventually, wrote no book for him. She also remarked that after hanging out at his office during bookwriting time, she still didn’t know what he did for a living.

Before Fred died, he was well into dementia. He didn’t remember many family member’s names, or even who they were. Fred was a terrible example of a father and grandfather and was mean to Mary. But ironically, as he lost his mind, he took a shining to her and called her ‘nice lady’. Donald only had contempt for Fred by that point, as he had no more use for his father. He treated his father just the way Fred had treated Freddie Jr. when he had no interest in his father’s empire and his dealings. The only thing Fred worried about, even through his dementia, was losing his fortune.

Fred died in 1999, and at his funeral, each sibling had something scripted to read for their father. Only, Donald went off script and elaborated on about how great he , himself, Donald Trump was, which nauseated sister Maryanne to the point she told her own son, “to please never let any of my siblings speak at my funeral”. Mary and her brother Fritz were left out of the will. Instead of each of Fred’s five children to get 20% each of his estate, even with Freddie being dead, and should be going to his two children, four other Trumps got 25% each. Separately, there was a bequest Fred made for his grandchildren for an amount that was less than 1/10th of 1% of what Freddie’s four siblings received.

Mary held up the will for months in probate as she nor her brother would sign off. Months later, uncle Rob had enough and they met up. Mary wanted answers as to why she was left out, Rob’s reply: “He didn’t give a shit about any of his grandchildren.” Mary asks again why her and her brother were cut out of the will just because her father was dead. Rob’s reply: “As far as your grandfather was concerned, dead is dead.” Not one Trump gave a shit about Mary or her brother.

Mary knows her father had holdings when he died. Rob wants her signature, but Mary decided with her brother, to sue the four Trumps to release their money. The four who were assigned to protect her interest! But Rob blackmails Mary threatening not to release her money ever, threatening she will go broke paying lawyers – the old Trump standard. So  Mary goes to the only allie one of Fred’s lawyers to ask about those holdings and finds out they’re worth millions and he encourages her to sue them. Rob runs to his mamma and fed her some BS conspiracy and grandma Trump calls Mary and tells her granddaughter that her father was worth nothing and hangs up on her.

Irwin the lawyer suggests having Fred’s last will overturned because Fred was being taken advantage of his dementia when he signed. Irwin sent Mary to a shark lawyer for their lawsuit, and one week after the foursome got their notice, Mary got a letter. The foursome had Mary and her brother’s family Trumpcare medical coverage removed while her brother’s son was very ill, in and out of hospital, despite Rob’s prior promise he made Fritz that he’d always look after his sick son. So Mary and bro Fritz launch another lawsuit for the healthcare issue, all the while not signing off on the will yet. Finally, there was a settlement out of desperation for need of money for Fritz’s son’s health, and they got mucho ripped off in value they were given. In the midst of the settlement, grandma dies, and Mary and her bro weren’t even in the bequest part of her will. They were erased.

Three years ago the NYT approached Mary for interview, alerting her to the fact they were working on her uncle’s finances, Mary declined, but eventually Mary changed her mind and called the journalist back who’d left her card. Mary had access to 30 banker boxes of financial files from the lawsuit her and her brother filed on her aunts and uncles. Mary had had enough of her uncle and wanted to take him down. When the NYT came out with the reports in Oct 2018 that Fred had transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to his children, Mary learned just how much money Fred left. And in 1992, after Donald tried to rip off his siblings with the codicil to Fred’s will, they finally came together with a common mission – they had to find a way to hide the millionssss of dollars Fred left them, so they opened a shell company. While Fred was still alive and not very cognizant, they realized they would be hit with millions in taxes and siphoned millions into the shell company from Trump management co – large gifts disguised as business transactions, enough that when Fred died he was said to only have 1.9 million – despite the siblings selling over 700 million worth of Fred’s assets a few years later, which I will add other than Donnie boy, the other three wanted to retain the holdings and live off the interest, but Donnie wanted his lump sum.

From Mary: “Donald’s need for affirmation is so great that he doesn’t seem to notice that the largest group of his supporters are people he wouldn’t fondescent to be seen with outside of a rally.”

“Donald is not simply weak, his ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered at every moment because he knows deep down he is nothing of what he claims to be. He knows he has never been loved.”

“He was neither self-made nor a good dealmaker. But that was how it started – with his misuse of language and the media’s failure to ask him pointed questions.”

“It’s people weaker than he who keep him there.”

“Donald’s checkered personal history and his unique personality flaws make him extremely vulnerable to manipulation by smarter, more powerful men.” Cruelty and humiliation are his best traits he inherited from his father.

He turned Coronavirus briefings to “… mini campaign rallies, filled with self-congratulation, demagoguery and ring-kissing.” Mary affirms that DJT has always been given a free pass for his failures and transgressions against decency, law and his fellow human beings. He knows he lies, but will always test to see how far he can get away with. As Mary says, “And so far, he’s gotten away with everything.”

“Donald is a petty, pathetic man.” Mary continues telling us that to offset his powerlessness and rage he will punish others in revenge.

“As my father lay dying alone, Donald went to the movies. If he can in any way profit from your death, he’ll facilitate it, and then he’ll ignore the fact that you died.”

“The simple fact is that Donald is fundamentally incapable of acknowledging the suffering of others.”

” . . .Donald requires division. It’s the only way he knows how to survive – my grandfather ensured that decades ago when he turned his children against each other.”

Astounding to read, and my lengthy review only touches on just some of the shenanigans that continues down this dangerous line.

 

©DGKaye2020

 

 

Sunday Book Review with D.G. Kaye, Featuring – The Memory by Judith Barrow

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m thrilled to be reviewing Judith Barrow’s engrossing #FamilySaga – The Memory. This is the story about Irene, growing up in a dysfunctional family with a horrible mother, Lilian, and the bond Irene carries for her little sister Rose who was born with Down Syndrome, and how that bond dictated the choices Irene made in her life decisions. Familial conflict and a mother/daughter story of complexity.

 

 

 

Blurb:

 I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

…A book that is both powerful and moving, exquisitely penetrating. I am drawn in, empathising so intensely with Irene that I feel every twinge of her frustration, resentment, utter weariness and abiding love.” Thorne Moore

Judith Barrow’s greatest strength is her understanding of her characters and the times in which they live; The Memory is a poignant tale of love and hate in which you will feel every emotion experienced by Irene.” Terry Tyler

The new novel from the bestselling author of the Howarth family saga

 

 

My 5 Star Review:

Barrow paints a complex emotional story written in first person where Irene tells her story in two time-frames. One is in present 2002, depicted in a 24 hour time-frame, and the past in flashbacks about what transpired in her life and lead to that one day.

Three women under one roof – Irene, her mother Lilian, and her Nanna, and Sam, Irene’s ever faithful and compassionate boyfriend, are the central characters, as well as little sister Rose, born with Down Syndrome, who dies at the age of 8 years old, and the secrets about her death that keep Irene connected to the house they grew up in together. The burning secret Irene carries will take a monumental twist near the end of this book. Rose is an embarrassment to her rotten mother Lilian, and Irene and Nanna are the ones who look after Rose.

Rose’s death creates a bigger distance between Irene and Lilian, spurring Irene’s anticipation to finally move away from home and finish her schooling for her dream to become a teacher. Only, there are obstacles at every milestone for Irene from her demanding, needy and lacking of compassion mother.

Lilian is a complicated, moody, miserable bitch, whose husband has left her, leaving Irene to put up with Lilian’s antics on a daily basis – seemingly no matter how far Irene flees does not stop Lilian and her demands. Thank goodness for Sam. Sam knows Lilian well and knows how she gets under Irene’s skin and staunchly supports Irene’s decisions, despite them often leaving Sam in second place to Irene’s worries concerning her mother and the indelible bond that remains between Rose and Irene even after her death.

Irene is the designated carer for everyone in this book – first Rose, then her Nanna, then Sam’s sick father, then her sick father, then her sick (in more ways than one, mother) – a modern day Florence Nightingale.

Sam is the ideal boyfriend and then husband who adores Irene. He’s been through a lot with Irene and her family woes, causing delays for them to make a life together. When they finally do make their life complete, once again ‘mother’ calls in her neediness. The mother who never had the time of day for Irene makes her a lucrative offer, which once again turns into a bad deal and should have had Irene running like a dog on fire. But instead, she flees back to her mother leaving Sam disappointed and dumbfounded.

The twist at the end focuses on the painful secret Irene has carried with her since Rose’s death. A lot of drama ensues between Irene and her terrible, ungrateful, undeserving mother as Irene once again sacrifices her happiness with Sam in order to pacify her mother. Irene is a great character of strength who takes on all the family problems in her selfless good and compassionate nature, even risking losing the love of her life, but does she? You’ll have to read to find out!

 

©DGKaye2020

 

Sunday Book Review – Everything My Mother Taught Me #Shortstory by Alice Hoffman

My Sunday Book Review is once again for another Alice Hoffman book – Everything My Mother Taught Me, albeit, a short read, nonetheless, powerful. This book, as does most of Hoffman’s books, offers up lessons, which makes it right up my reading alley. The very first paragraph of this book reads:

 

“There are those who insist that mothers are born with love for their children and place them before all other things, including their own needs and desires. This was not the case with us.”

Young Adeline informs us, her mother ruined both hers and her father’s life, yet, failed to notice. “She was the sort of person who saw only herself and her shadow, and the rest of us disappeared in the bright sunlight.”

That was enough to grab my attention as the introduction brought up a flashback of my own life and mother, as some of you who have read my books will be familiar with. This story resonated with me, especially the line where Adeline describes the adoration her father held for her mother, regardless of the fact she wasn’t worthy of his adoration: “Perhaps he was a fool, because even after all she’d done, he was most likely still in love with her on the day he died.” That line really hit home with me, because that was my father.

 

 

Blurb:

In this haunting short story of loyalty and betrayal, a young woman in early 1900s Massachusetts discovers that in navigating her treacherous coming-of-age, she must find her voice first.

For fatefully observant Adeline, growing up carries an ominous warning from her adulterous mother: don’t say a word. Adeline vows to never speak again. But that’s not her only secret. After her mother takes a housekeeping job at a lighthouse off the tip of Cape Ann, a local woman vanishes. The key to the mystery lies with Adeline, the silent witness. New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Magic Alice Hoffman crafts a beautiful, heart-wrenching short story.

Alice Hoffman’s Everything My Mother Taught Me is part of Inheritance, a collection of five stories about secrets, unspoken desires, and dangerous revelations between loved ones. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single setting. By yourself, behind closed doors, or shared with someone you trust.

 

My 5 Star Review:

This book is an Amazon short of only 24 pages, but Hoffman, as usual, can pack a zinger in a story, and she has done well by fleshing out 12 year old Adeline’s character and that of her mother Nora, perfectly, despite the length of this story.

The story begins with Adeline sharing stories about how she adored her father and shares some of the lousy things her mother did to her as an emotionally absent mother focused on herself and her own needs, and she reminds her daughter not to tell her father the bad things she’d found out about her mother. Adeline makes a decision to no longer speak again after her mother’s warning.

The story takes place off the coast of Massachusetts on the island of Cape Ann after the death of Adeline’s father, where Nora and her daughter are forced to move to the Lighthouse for work and shelter along with the Fuller, Ford and  Ballard families. Nora doesn’t like doing work and passes the load onto her daughter while Nora begins an affair with Rowan Ballard who happens to be married to Julia. Adeline and Julia become very close, as Julia treats her like the mother Adeline wished she had.

Adeline remains true to her vow to keep silent and communicates by writing notes. She comes up with a plan to help Julia leave her philandering husband, which becomes a karmic occasion for the wrong-doers and gives wings to Adeline and Julia. I’m going to leave it here because continuing on with what happens would be spoilers, so I recommend picking up a copy of the book to find out what transpires.

 

©DGKaye2020

 

 

Q & A with D.G. Kaye Features Judith Barrow – The Memory

Welcome to the first of May’s Q and A author features, today I’m excited to have friend and author Judith Barrow over to share some of herself, her writing and her powerful new book, which I can’t wait to sink my eyes into – The Memory. Judith writes historical fiction and family sagas, like her Howarth family books series, and has taken a different approach with her newest book. As a writer who delves into family – and particularly ‘mother’ issues, I have no doubts I will love this book.

 

 

Author Judith Barrow

 

About Judith:

Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines in Yorkshire, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions.. She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

 

If you’d like to learn more about the writer in Judith, I invite you read this beautiful article Judith wrote – Something of Ourselves.

 

 

 

Blurb:

Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.

I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.

Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.

Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.

…A book that is both powerful and moving, exquisitely penetrating. I am drawn in, empathising so intensely with Irene that I feel every twinge of her frustration, resentment, utter weariness and abiding love.” Thorne Moore

Judith Barrow’s greatest strength is her understanding of her characters and the times in which they live; The Memory is a poignant tale of love and hate in which you will feel every emotion experienced by Irene.” Terry Tyler

 

Latest review for The Memory:

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping. Moving. Powerful.

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 24, 2020

Verified Purchase

 

Now, let us dig a little deeper into  Judith and her writing,

 

If you had the chance to re-do your childhood or teen years to enhance your future in writing, what would you have done differently?

This question intrigued me; it suggests that I would have had some control over those years. It would be too easy to say I would have needed to have been born into a different family. That the writing I did, even as a young child, was something I could have shared. It wasn’t. Because what I wrote about was happening in the family and how I felt about it. I knew I couldn’t share it. It would have hurt my mother and angered my father. And, because it was my father who controlled everything, both emotionally and physically, I learned from an early age not to show how I felt. I knew how to hide, keep secrets. Keep out of the way. And watch.

We lived together and yet, in a way, we lived separately.

I was fascinated in how places were changed by the emotions that filled them. The rooms of our house, the shops in the village, the Methodist chapel I went to every Sunday afternoon, the moors where I wandered for miles on the moors with my dog. School. It’s the feelings of the people who are there at the time and it’s something I am still aware of. Maybe that’s a throwback to my childhood; from being aware. Being wary.

I kept my school life private from my parents and was lucky that neither was interested in my education. Anyway, there were few things I enjoyed about school; I never felt as though I fitted in, especially in my teens. I loved the history lessons, but my true passion was obviously English. And from that evolved my plans for the future; I wanted to work as a journalist.

Every year, with each new English teacher, I strived for approval with my writing. There was one teacher I will never forget. His name was Leslie Ellinore and, as I grew to trust him, I showed him some of the less personal stories and poems I’d written at home. He often entered them into the school magazine and, once, into a competition in the local newspaper. I won with that story. I was devastated when he emigrated to New Zealand but will never forget what he once said to me: “One day, Judith, I know I will read a book that you have written”.

Encouraged by that, and as soon as I passed my exams, I applied in secret for a junior post at that local newspaper. The week before I was due to start there my father discovered how much (or rather how little) I would be paid, and forbid me to go. My wages were needed, so the more I could earn the better. There were many arguments. In the end I gave in and joined the Civil Service.

So, I suppose, and being honest, the answer to what I would have done differently then to enhance my future in writing would have been to have more confidence, to have left home, to be determined enough to begin a career in journalism.

D.G. – Powerful stuff Judith. Just from this response, it gives me so much more insight as to how similar we were in our dreams and thinking and observations as children, and how our aspirations got left to the wayside. Look at us now! ❤

 

How has writing changed your life?

I wonder if, for me, it’s the life I’ve had that actually underlines my writing. As I said earlier, I’ve always written, so I don’t know how else my life would be different. The one big change was from the day I was married; my writing no longer had to be secret. My husband had known before then how important it was to me and has always been a great support, even in the years when I didn’t send anything out into the world. He realises I need to write. It’s the way I get through situations, the way I work out what I’m going to do, how I’m going to tackle something I’m confronted with. And, ultimately the way any of my protagonists face up to anything I put them through.

D.G. – And once again, we were ultimately blessed with good husbands. ❤

 

What prompted you to write in your chosen genre?

I think it was, inevitable that I write family sagas of some form or another. My stories evolved from the diaries I kept in my childhood and reflected situations I lived through; what I saw. And the dynamics of people and how they interact with one another in a set of circumstances fascinates me. And, you know, family sagas can cross genres, so I get the best of all worlds; secrets and mysteries, criminal actions, romance. And family sagas can be written in any era – so can cross over into historical novels. I love researching for my books; giving a good sense of place. Making a world for my characters, being able to see where they walk, what they wear, the homes they live in, is as important as the lives they lead.

D.G. – I love how you insert your slices of your life in your books Judith. Like the old saying goes – there is so much truth in fiction.

 

How do you promote your work? Do you find marketing and social media overwhelming?

I would much rather go out and talk to people about my work. I work part time as a creative writing tutor under a lifelong learning scheme for the local Council. As well as that I also run private workshops where I’m inevitably asked about the way I write and about my books. I also interview other authors about their work for a brilliant online TV company, ShowboatTV; I suppose the promotion of my own books rides on the back of that.

I have to admit that most social media does overwhelm me sometimes. When I first started I was on so many platforms; the stress of keeping up with everything finally became too much and I almost walked away from it all. So now I mostly stick to Twitter and Facebook; although I am being told I should really be on Instagram as well. Sigh! I admire anyone who manages the balance of social media with their writing. As for anyone who can produce an interesting blog or a long and insightful review of another author’s book every day, I am in awe. In the early days of my foray into this strange world, I was told that one should follow, promote and discuss only those who write in the same genre, but I can’t see how that is possible. Because I am helped by a disparate array of people I’m very conscious of trying to promote other authors, whatever they write. And a friend once told me not to forget that important word “social”, so, if someone mentions my books, I try to do the same. Then, before I realise it – I’ve lost a couple of hours.

As you may be able to tell, I’m getting stressed out just trying to explain why social media stresses me out! Ha-ha! Perhaps, one day, I’ll stop myself for “scatter gunning” online and work out the best way to promote my books.

D.G. – Your social media dilemma is one many of us writers contend with Judith. I too believe spreading ourselves everywhere becomes too thin and spend most of my social media time on FB and Twitter too. There are only so many hours in a day right?

 

Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?

Well, I hope that once this strange situation that we’re living through at present is over, I will be able to go out to all of the events which have been postponed and I’ll promote my latest book, The Memory. It’s had some wonderful reviews online and, although in a way, I was quite apprehensive about it because it’s so different from my previous books, I’m thrilled by the way it’s been received.

As for future plans, I do have another book coming out with my publishers, Honno, in February 2021. It’s called The Heart Stone, and is a return to my usual genre, historical family saga. It’s based around WW1, the aftermath of a world war, and the struggles of the nineteen twenties.

As for writing, I am at the moment working on two projects. I’m around 40,000 words into a book which centres around three women who work in a cotton factory in the nineteen fifties; a decade when the trade was declining

in the UK. It’s as much about the individual lives of the women as what is happening in the industry. But, of course, as with any character, they don’t live in a vacuum, so world events also affect the relationships within their families and circle of friends.

But that book has been interrupted by a memory that came back to me during one of my sleepless nights. Remembering an event from a long time ago has led on to a story of two sisters and something they were involved in when they were in their early teens. One of them takes the blame for an incident and it’s a secret that lasts for years and has consequences.

The other project which has been put on hold is an anthology that one of my adult classes is producing. I’m very proud of all the hard work the students have put into their writing over the last year so I’m eager for it to be published and to show what they can do. I think it proves that it’s never too late to start writing.

D.G. – Well, that’s one full plate Judith! And the book about sisters and secrets is already intriguing me! I look forward to that book too!

 

Judith shares an Excerpt of: The Memory

 

I was eight when Rose was born. All that summer I’d watched as my mother’s stomach grew larger and rounder. As she moved ever slower, each foot ponderously placed on the ground beneath her. As her face grew tighter with rage and bitterness.

‘She’s tired, Irene,’ Dad said when I asked him what was wrong. We were in the park. It was the week before the autumn term started. The long summer days were behind us, there was a slight chill in the air, but we were making the most of the time that was left.

Thinking about what Dad said, I slowly pushed my foot against the ground. I knew it was more than that; Mum was angry about something.

Normally in summer we went for a week to the seaside. Usually Southport or Morecambe but we hadn’t been anywhere for a holiday that year. Or even for one of our picnics at Bramble Clough, a dip in the hill where a tiny stream gurgled through rocks and crannies, bordered by wimberry bushes and dried heather. Where we’d sit on Dad’s tartan blanket and eat beef paste butties and drink lemonade.

Bending and stretching out my legs to make the swing move, I looked around. It was that time of day when mums had already taken the younger children home for their teas. Over by the river on the far side of the large grassed area, some boys were messing about. They were hanging upside down on two tyres fastened to ropes slung over branches on the trees on the bank. After a hot summer, little water flowed over the grey boulders and shale on the riverbed. At least they wouldn’t get wet if they fell in. I recognised Sam Hargreaves. He’d been my friend since our first year at Hopfield Primary School. And he helped his father deliver newspapers to our house, in holiday time.

I was so high on the swing that the chains slackened and jerked as I passed the bar they were fastened to. Arms straightened, I leant backwards so I had an upside down picture of Dad sitting on the bench, legs straightened, ankles crossed. He’d taken off his jacket and tie and pushed his trilby to the back of his head. He was cradling his pipe in his cupped hand.

‘Looks like the smoke from your pipe is falling down instead of up,’ I said, ‘looks funny.’ I saw him smile. It made me feel good. So I decided it would be all right to say what was bothering me. ‘Why is Mum tired?’ I asked, ‘She doesn’t do much.’ She’d even stopped our Sunday afternoon baking cakes and biscuits times, which was something we’d done for as long as I could remember.

He’d frowned at that but only said, ‘Now, now, love.’

I swung in silence, my hair sweeping the ground at the lowest point. The bit of the park we were in: the concrete area that held the swings, slide and the iron spider’s web roundabout, was deserted.

‘She is doing something, you know,’ Dad said eventually, ‘she’s growing your little brother or sister.’ He rubbed his knuckles on his neck, looked uncomfortable; or maybe it was the upside down image I had of his smiling mouth.

I thought it was a silly thing to say. ‘Isn’t she happy doing that?’ I sat up, scraping the soles of my shoes on the ground to slow the swing.

‘Of course she is.’ But he wouldn’t look at me. Instead he concentrated on his pipe and flicked the lighter into the tobacco which already glowed red. ‘She’s looking forward to us having an addition to our family.’ He sounded odd, saying those words and I could tell he was embarrassed about something because his ears were red.

‘Your ears have gone red,’ I told him. ‘And your nose is growing – so I know you’re fibbing. Nanna said Mum has a face like a smacked backside these days; I heard her say that to her friend last week.’ She’d actually said “arse” but I didn’t dare repeat that, I’d never heard Dad swear, not even “damn”, which I’d heard Mum say a lot over the last few months. And if I did say it, he might not let me go on my own again to Nanna’s flat on the Barraclough estate.

‘Enough.’ His tone was sharp, sharper than he ever used on me.

My eyes stung and I twisted the swing’s chains round, pushing on the ground with the toes of my shoes until I almost couldn’t reach any more and I was higher than him. I didn’t want him to see I was crying. I lifted my feet and was flung around and around. I was dizzy when it stopped. ‘That made my eyes water,’ I said, defiantly, pushing a finger under the frames of my glasses to brush away the tears.

‘Time we went home,’ he said. And then to show he wasn’t cross, ‘we’ll get an ice cream.’ He pointed with the stem of his pipe towards the entrance of the park where the tinny sound of ‘Greensleeves’ emerged from inside the white van decorated with cartoons. ‘I’ll race you.’ He stood, took off his hat and folded his jacket over his arm. ‘Go on, I’ll give you a head start.’

I didn’t need telling twice. I was off. He let me win, of course.

I loved my Dad.

 

Thank you for being here today Judith. You know I’m a big fan of your books and writing. I look forward to reading your newest coming up soon and no doubts, I’m sure some of my readers here will be just as eager to read.

 

Find Judith on Social Links:

Judith Barrow Author MA BA (Hons) Dip Drama https://judithbarrowblog.com/

https://judithbarrow.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3

https://www.honno.co.uk/authors/b/judith-barrow/

 

@DGKaye2020

 

Sunday Book Review – Father Figure by James Cudney

My Sunday Book Review for James Cudney’s – Father Figure is an engrossing read into two lives – Amalia Graeme and Brianna Porter. Amalia’s abusive upbringing inspires her to get far away from home as she can’t wait to move away to college. Brianna  is relentless when it comes to finding out who her biological father is and her determination to find answers becomes a sore spot between her and her mother as her mother continues to deny telling her daughter any information from her past, until Brianna discovers her mother’s diary.

 

 

Blurb:

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly.

Abused by her mother, Amalia Graeme longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies.

Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden New York City teenager, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent.

Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen is revealed. Father Figure is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.

Praise from readers:

★★★★★ – “The book deals with abuse, identity, acceptance, overcoming obstacles, crime, sexuality, family secrets, and knowing who you are. Another great story to read, especially if you love emotive, suspenseful family dramas.”

★★★★★ – “Gripping and emotional… Mr. Cudney has written a book full of twists and turns that kept my eyes glued to its pages.”

★★★★★ – “Amalia and Brianna are fully developed characters with all the fears, naivety, anxiety and angst of teen, young adults; full of questions and doubts… Can’t wait for James Cudney’s next work.”

 

My 5 Star Review:

This book takes us into the life of Amalia Graeme in the mid 80s, a sweet teenage girl living in smalltown Mississippi. desperate to leave home and go to college to experience making friends, finding love, and most of all, getting away from her most deplorable excuse for a mother.

Amalia is pretty green when it comes to learning anything about love and life because she is taught nothing by her mother. We are taken through Amalia’s sad life at home, save for her father who dearly loves her, but somehow seems afraid of his own wife. Amalia meets her first boyfriend Carter, a friend of her brother’s who ends up going to the same college as Amalia.

We’ll discover how Carter is a bad boyfriend, and Amalia begins to find solace and then love with one of her professors – undoubtedly a father figure to console her as she desperately misses her father’s love. Then again, everything changes after Amalia is attacked.

As the book goes between Amalia’s life in the mid 80s and switches to present day New York, we’re taken into the confusing life of Brianna, where she attends the same college that Amalia attended some 20 years earlier. Brianna is plagued with needing to know who her biological father is while she also struggles to figure out her own identity as she questions her attraction to her best friend Shanelle, and her preference in gender when it comes to relationships.

Brianna spends a lot of time trying to corner her mother into telling her who her real father is, but her mother dodges at every opportunity, and the storyline continues creating curiosity for us readers wanting to learn too, who is Brianna’s father? Once Brianna finds her mother’s long lost and forgotten diary, Brianna is exposed to the people in her mother’s life, her relationships and why the paternal identity of Brianna’s fathering presents such a complicated mystery. But Brianna is determined to solve the mystery and hatches a plan with Shanelle to help her investigate what really did happen to her mother. Secrets are all revealed as the book comes to an end.

The past always finds a way into the present.

 

©DGKaye

 

Sunday Book Review – Lily by Stevie Turner #Shortstory

Welcome back to my Sunday Book Reviews. Today’s review is for Stevie Turner’s latest novella – Lily, a family saga and women’s coming of age story. Turner knows how to touch our hearts in this one where I was addictively drawn into to Lily’s life.

 

 

 

Blurb:

Lily is 92 and failing in health. Her family told her she was going on a little holiday, and although she finds herself still on her beloved Isle of Wight, to her horror she is now living permanently in a residential home at the mercy of Bridie, the ‘horrible’ one.

To make what is left of her life happier she thinks about years gone by, and once again wonders about the strange disappearance of her 14 year old sister Violet in 1897. Her depression lifts when another new resident manages to shed some light on the 76 year old mystery……

 

My 5 Star Review:

A heartfelt family saga focusing on Lily – now a 93 year old resident in a nursing home, recanting her earlier life starting back in the late 1800s, growing up with her 2 sisters -one who was mysteriously taken away from home as a young teen with a ‘dreaded sickness’ – never to return.

Lily shares her history in thought and her memories of growing up and marrying her beloved Artie and the children they raised together. Now, in 1973, Lily has suffered a stroke and is now living in assisted living, unable to speak from the stroke, in a wheelchair, but her memory is sharp as a tack.

Lily gets a new roommate and the secrets of the past come to make sense as the mystery of what happened to her missing sister is revealed. The characters in this story are so beautifully fleshed out, and Lily stole my heart as I eagerly turned each page. A thoroughly engaging story all the way through a most satisfying ending, I read it straight through in one sitting, #Recommended reading!