Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Susannah's Garden by Debbie Macomber

We first see a glimpse of Susannah in Back on Blossom Street. This is the story of Susannah, life before the flower shop, with her husband Joe, daughter Chrissie, her recently widowed mother Vivian, not to mention a whole pile of ghosts from the past.

Susannah is confronted with her mother, who is gradually becoming frail, she starts to talk of meeting her husband, well he comes to her in not a dream, but I guess as a spirit. Susannah believes that she needs to get her mother placed in an assisted care facility, where she can be looked after. Susannah, comes to terms with the death of her father, she reflects on her relationship with him and with her brother who died 30 years previously and her school boyfriend who wrote to her one summer then stopped. Susannah rebuilds the relationship with her old school friends, and feels that she needs to lay some ghosts to rest, except that all is not as it appears to be......

Another delightful read from Debbie Macomber, who has a real skill of being able to identify with genuine emotions & fears.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Puppet Maker by P M Mason

I had seen a review of this book in a copy of the Pharmaceutical Journal several years ago. I recently purchased this one and devoured in about 2 days!

Arnis is a widower, with two grown up sons who lives with his mother in London. He has a small GPs practice. Arnis never knew his father, who was deported to Siberia in 1941 before he was born. He meets the relative of a friend who knew his father and shows Arnis an old photo. Inspired by the photo to find out exactly what happened to his father, Arnis starts to make gentle enquiries. Latvia is now free from Soviet power and gradually the KGB files are being opened and are now to some degree accessible. Arnis and his mother return to Latvia to live, Arnis builds up a small medical practice whilst gently making further enquiries about his father, keeping the details from his mohter, who is always very careful about what she discloses. They visit the village where his mother and father lived, and having been requested to pack a shovel in the boot of the car, start digging in the garden area of their former home. There under the ground is a sack which is removed to the safety of the car. Having explored the contents of the sack they discover a tea set hidden by his mother and a note from his father who had returned to Latvia in 1947 only to find his wife and son have gone. Is the note genuine? As research reveals the note is genuine, and there are further clues to Arnis' genealogy in an old puppet carved by his father. As in all cases of researching this kind of history with each answer several more questions and mysteries appear, but does Arnis solve his genealogical puzzle in the end?

This is a gentle story of identity and roots.

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede

This was an incredibly inspiring and thought provoking book. The kindness displayed by the population of Gander to so many people who were passengers on the planes that could not enter US air space is overwhelming. I was touched by many of the stories - Orthodox Jewish people, and the the story of the Jewish chap who had lived in Newfoundland since the War years and not told his wife he was Jewish, the lady who left complete strangers in her home to shower inviting them to rest and relax and to simply close the door when they left. The trust of the Newfoundlanders during a time filled with mistrust was amazing. Not to mention the story of the young couple bringing back to the US their adopted daughter and of course the couple whose son was a firefighter in New York.

There are days in history and our lifetimes that we can always remember exactly what we were doing at the very moment the news broke, at about 3pm UK time. The day of 9/11, I spent in a series of meetings, the last one at a Doctors practice, as one of the company's branches has a close relationship with the practice. As I was leaving the news was announced over the radio, and all the staff rushed to the staffing area to put the TV on. We all stood in complete disbelief watching the images, asking why?

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

1940s Day at Ramsey

We visited some friends over the weekend in rural Cambridgeshire and were invited along to a 1940s day at Ramsey. Some people dress in 1940s clothes, either civilian or military and others, including myself simply wore modern attire but soaked up the enthusiasm of others. There were a selection of military vehicles, mainly representing the US & UK Military, 1940s music and various stalls to look at and enjoy. The highlight of the 1940s day was the Lancaster Bomber that flew over the event, believed to be the last one in the country.

It was a very good day and could only have been really improved with some sunshine!

Here are some more details

The photos are on Flickr

In Search of Henry by Arnold Powell

This book was a page turner. Written on almost two levels, Firstly set in Baltimore 1916 is the story of Henry, a young man of Jewish faith, who migrates with his widowed mother from England to the US to be near his married sister, leaving several siblings in England. Henry meets Claire, a young woman, a talented pianist who follows the Roman Catholic faith. After a courtship of nearly two years the couple marry in secret and eventually tell both families. Henry's mother and sisters, although not overly happy, begin to accept Claire, whilst Claire's parents do the opposite and disown her. They couple have two children and all is well until Henry contracts an illness which leaves him a resident in a Psychiatric hospital, a shadow of his former self. Claire, looks at her options and files for divorce although never stops loving Henry and remarries, out of fondness for an old school friend and necessity.

The second stage of the story is set in the late 1990s and early 2000s, around the research of a descendant of one of the siblings of Henry left in England. Alf starts to research his ancestry following the birth of his young son. He meets a fellow descendant and together they research the lives of Henry and his ancestors, who migrated to England from Poland. From research they learn of the divorce of Claire and of the death of Henry, but after they have started corresponding with one of Claire's grandchildren, and the divorce was never mentioned. The lesson to be learn't is that sometimes our ancestors did thing out of necessity and in some cases falsified the facts and events.

The quest was to search for Henry and this Alf did. An interesting book, written in fiction style, based upon true events, with details of the records themselves and where they were located.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

It was an interesting concept, and written in an interesting style, encouraging Iranian women to share and discover things about taboo subject matter. Although not the best book I had read recently, it was a book that I did manage to zip through and like a previous reader on the book ring, found the ending a little strange.

Ancestors by Paul Crooks

"A moving tale of a black British family that travels through the ages from slavery and beyond" was the review written by Bonnie Greer,of the Guardian.

I saw this reviewed a while ago in one of the genealogical magazines. I recently had a look at my Amazon wishlist and decided to make the purchase. I am so glad I did. What an incrediable journey the author has taken. Written in a fictionalised style, based upon research both in the UK and Jamaica, this follows the lives and without a doubt, hardships of the the author's ancestors. Transported as a young boy into slavery from Africa to Jamaica. In Jamaica he is given a new name "August" and set to work as a slave on the various plantations. He marries the daughter of the woman who looked after him on the ship, and they together build their lives bound to a "master" up until the time the slaves were set free.

The journey of the author is detailed in the Appendix and the highs and lows of his research and the emotions that he experienced are ones that many family historians can identify with. This is quite simply a fascinating book and a labour of love.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Death on the Family Tree: A Family Tree Mystery by Patricia Sprinkle

Katherine, living on her own during the week because her husband works away with two children who have flown the nest, spends her time with Aunt Lucy. When Aunt Lucy passes away Katherine inherits 10 boxes of her belongings, mainly collected from her lifetime of travels, and a lovely desk. As Katherine looks through the boxes selecting what she will pass onto other people, she comes across a necklace and a journal written in german.

Katherine decides to find out more about the journal, she goes to the local archives and is soon absorbed into the world of research. Along the way she meets up with an old boyfriend who is now a history professor who expresses a real interest in the necklace and diary, perhaps too interested.... Coupled with the murder of a young lad who has a suspect background and the murder of Dutch an old family friend, plus her house burgled not once but twice Katherine has to solve her genealogical mystery.

A great read, accurately researched by the author and I hope there will be more by this author in this genealogical theme.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Murder in the Museum by Simon Brett

"Fethering sleuths Carole and Jude return in a wonderful mystery of bitter rivalries and deep-rooted jealousies; Bracketts, an Elizabethan house near the town of Fethering, is about to be turned into a museum. Once the home of celebrated poet Esmund Chadleigh, it has now been decided that it should become a shrine to his life and poetry. But the transition from house to museum is running far from smoothly. For a sudden discovery is made: Buried in the kitchen garden is a human skeleton. And before too long, there is a second body, not yet cold. Murder is no longer just a dreadful possibility, but a certainty. It is a case that will test the sleuthing powers of Board member Carole Seddon and her friend Jude as never before... "

My first book by this author. Slow to start, but an enjoyable read. The author had done research on some of the facts about the records office, and accurate facts, even in fiction books make enjoyable reading.


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