Category Archives: non-fiction

Must You Go?

by

Antonia Fraser

A diary and reflections on a privileged life with an exceptional man for a husband and luvvies for friends – not to mention six children!

So this is Antonia Fraser writing about her own life for a change rather someone else’s and using her diaries as the mainstay of the book. And this to me is where the book fell down. When Antonia Fraser writes her historical memoirs she researches them in great depth – too much depth for me in some of them – but here she relies on her notes and scribbles to tell the story. For me, it doesn’t. Perhaps because the initial sets of content seemed mainly to consist of who they went to dinner with – which doesn’t interest me as I am not one of those celebrity followers. And for me, seems to be a form of bragging even if it was her life at the time. antonia

However, I did find out some good things, which I hadn’t known before:

  • Harold Pinter (her husband), acted, directed, and wrote screen plays as well as poetry and theatre plays;
  • Harold was extremely left-wing and championed those who were fighting dictators;
  • The couple were fiercely anti the Iraq war (and thus not friends with Tony Blair);
  • Antonia Fraser has written a crime series as well as historical biographies; (just where does she find the time!!?;
  • There was an incestuous crow of luvvies who found work for each other – there was an in-crowd.

I also investigated the illness pemphigus as Harold suffered from  it. It seems it is an auto-immune disease that affects the skin and mucous membranes. There are 3 variants. It was first described I the 1960s and there are 0.68 people affected for every 100,000, so rare. It mostly affects women and the older population and Ashkenazi Jews are especially prone. It is triggered by environmental factors that include stress, tumours and nutrition. There is a mortality rate with treatment of 12& but age and frailty and the drug side effects can cause a higher risk of death.

Overall I gave the book 2.5/3 stars. The original rating was the beginning  of the book. It got better and more interesting in later sections but you did need perseverance to get to it. I only persevered because it was chosen for my book club.

 

 

 

Penny goes on her Travels with Dave

Travels with Penny Large Banner

 

Travels CoverTitle: Travels with Penny
Author:
David Alan Morrison
Publication Date:
April 2015
Publisher: Booktrope

Two things flashed through my mind when I opened the door to the sex shop to find my mother standing in front of the display case talking to a tall salesman wearing a leather harness, jock strap and a dog collar. The first was, “Oh, crap.” The second was, “I hate when Dad’s right.”

Following the sudden death of his father, a single, middle-aged gay guy struggles with his own mortality be reminiscing about the travels with his gregarious mother. It is a look at the transformation of the baffling, complex relationship between children and their parents.

 

 

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Author Bio:
Dave Morrison (CI & CT, NIC-A, SC:L, NAD-5). Dave received his A.A. in ASL/ENG Interpreting from L.A. Pierce College in 1989. In 2000, he obtained his M.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Kentucky. He has interpreted in a variety of venues, from the courtroom to funerals to underwater conservation forums. As an actor, he has been seen on stage, TV and film. He is currently an adjunct instructor of Drama at Skagit Valley College and works with local theatres as a director, actor and instructor.
Author Links:

 

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This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

Springing through childhood

Springfield Road by Salena Godden

This unlike most of the books I read was not only non-fiction but also a memoir/autobiography written not by someone famous, or at least not very famous even though they do perform. In most ways this was a memoir about the childhood of what appears at first instance to be an ordinary girl. It is based largely around her memories of a house she lived in – in Springfield Road – hence the title.

She is the daughter of a quite famous white jazz musician who played with most of the bands and stars of his era and a black dancer – a go-go dancer at the time of their marriage.

salena1 salenagodden_8

She therefore has a mixed heritage, although it was her mother’s family who had most impact on her.

Her father deserted her mother when she was quite small – he was fairly typical I suppose of musicians of that time who were promiscuous and in many ways it is more surprising that he actually married her mother than that he left and had many affairs.

Salena now has a career as a poet and musician herself and her poetry often came through in this book as much of the text was quite lyrical. However, as this book was published by Unbound publishers – a sort of cloud-funding site for publication there was insufficient editing and this book needed a stronger line of story. It jumped around rather too much and was confusing. The first chapters were also off-putting and you needed to read well into the book to want to continue. Once you did, you got fascinated by, what for me, was not reminiscent of my childhood and foreign to me as I lived in a very different area of the country – a ‘safe’ London suburb where we ran riot in our cul-de-sac and each other’s houses. Another difference is that she was always looking for her father, and believed as a child, he would come home to her soon. As a child I lost my mother to an illness and so knew she never come home to me.

Memory of childhood is often patchy and yet Salena’s seemed very strong indeed and you just wonder how much was filled in by guess or desire when memory missed. Certainly her family helped her a lot, but again our memories are skewed by what we want to believe. Can we really remember everything? Especially what it was like to be a child? The racial issues that she would have encountered then must have been ones that remained strong in her memory though as such a mixed marriage was rather uncommon in the 1970s though it was becoming more common it’s true.

I was given the opportunity to read this book through the website for women called forbookssake which specialises in encouraging female authors.

Salena says about her book:

Springfield Road is a journey into childhood. My childhood, maybe your childhood too. I set out to capture a snapshot of the seventies, a world without health and safety, a time of halfpenny sweets, fish and chips in newspaper, cassette tapes of the Sunday night top ten, scrumping apples and foraging for conkers, through the eyes of my child self.

It is the memoir of our family home on Springfield Road in Hastings, but it is also a memoir of the journey I took writing this book. These are my memories of my attempts to understand the beauty, the brutality and the contradictions of the adult world; why my Irish jazz musician father mysteriously disappeared from our lives; how my mother’s transitions from her Jamaican girlhood to her teenage dreams to represent Britain in the Olympics, to her life as a go-go dancer and then single-parenthood affected us all. It’s about discovering that life is unfair and that parents die. Its also about seeking the good in the world, the humour and the tenderness, this book is not a misery memoir.

Springfield Road is peppered with daydreams, a poetic and universal child’s eye view from the cracks in the pavement to the faces in the clouds. This book is a salute to every curly-top, scabby knee’d, mixed-up, half-crazy kid out there. We had afros, we had free school dinners and hand-me-downs.