Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Daffodil Girls - Kitty Dimbleby

Daffodil Girls (eBook): Stories of love, loss and friendship from the women behind our heroes

How do you have a relationship that is not only long distance,but with someone who is both out of contact and in danger on a daily basis? How do you deal with everyday life while he's away? And how do you cope if your worst nightmare comes true -he doesn't come back at all?

Format: Kindle Edition - Non Fiction
Print Length: 259 pages
ISBN: 0753539640
Publisher: Virgin Digital (31 Aug 2011) 

Ever wondered what it is like to support a loved one in the armed forces? Army wife and journalist Kitty Dimbleby reveals stories of life, love and loss from the women behind the front line.
For every brave soldier putting their life on the line for Queen and country, there is a second, more subtle sort of heroism at work back at base in Britain.  Daffodil Girls is the story of the women behind the soldiers of The 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh. Granted unprecedented access into this most private of communities, writer Kitty Dimbleby brilliantly brings to life the lot of a soldier's wife, as she follows these women through the cycle of a regiment's tour of duty: the preparation for departure, the six long months of action and the emotional reunion. Insightful, humorous and deeply moving in turn, Daffodil Girls captures the unique bond of friendship and indomitable spirit that is forged in such circumstances - the extraordinary world of the heroines behind our army heroes.
'This is a moving tribute to the wives and families who are left behind when Britain's soldiers go out to fight - the story of their courage in the face of separation, loneliness and fear for those they love. Kitty Dimbleby's message is that war breeds more than one kind of hero worthy of our admiration and support' 

Oh my goodness me this has been one of the most emotionally charged books I have read in a long time.  Not only are they the true and personal accounts of each of the families,  but for anyone who has a loved one currently serving no matter which of the services they belong you will know exactly how these families felt.

One word of caution do not read whilst travelling on public transport as you may encounter funny looks from people when you laugh out loud and even more so when you can't help but shed a tear when a family has suffered a loss.  I have gone on to buy the hardback book as gifts for Christmas.  It is well worth the money and all proceeds are going to Help The Heroes.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Night Rainbow - Claire King

Under the sweltering heat of the summer sun, five-year old Pea - and her vivid imagination - run wild in the meadows behind her home on the edge of a small village in southern France.

Pea's father died in an accident, and now she only has her little sister, Margot for company. Their mother is too sad to take care of them and has withdrawn to a place where Pea cannot reach her, no matter how hard she tries.

When Pea meets Claude, a neighbour who seems to love the meadow as she foes, she wonders if he could be their new papa. But what secret is Claude keeping.

Published by: Bloomsbury 
Year:  - Paperback
Pages: 263
ISBN: 978-1-4088-4184-6

It was back on the 24th October that Jo over at Through the Keyhole mentioned she had been reading 'The Night Rainbow' by Claire King.  As I can't read my Kindle in the bath, especially after what happened to me at the beginning of the month, I tend to have a book on hand for such eventuality. Having just finished Beautiful Child by Torey Hayden I had started reading Philomena by Martin Sixsmith on my Kindle. Arriving home from work late one evening all I wanted was a long leisurely bath with a good book. I searched on the 'to be read shelf ' and pulled out a book that didn't appear to be as thick as War and Peace only to discover it was 'The Night Rainbow' by Claire King. I have really enjoyed reading this book  and  I have found it to be a very entertaining read.  The story is told through the eyes of a child and tells of her adventures during one hot summer.  Pea has recently lost her father in an accident and her mother is finding the loss hard to bare, especially as she is heavily pregnant. Pea and her little sister are pretty much left to their own devices throughout this time much to the concern of her friend and neighbour Claude.  Eventually events dictate a change in the life of Pea and her family. I would certainly recommend as one for the wish list for reading. 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Philomena - Martin Sixsmith

When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent at Roscrea in Co. Tipperary to be looked after as a fallen woman. She cared for her baby for three years until the Church took him from her and sold him, like countless others, to America for adoption. Coerced into signing a document promising never to attempt to see her child again, she nonetheless spent the next fifty years secretly searching for him, unaware that he was searching for her from across the Atlantic. Philomena's son, renamed Michael Hess, grew up to be a top Washington lawyer and a leading Republican official in the Reagan and Bush administrations. But he was a gay man in a homophobic party where he had to conceal not only his sexuality but eventually, the fact that he had AIDs. With little time left, he returned to Ireland and the convent where he was born: his desperate quest to find his mother before he died left a legacy that was to unfold with unexpected consequences for all involved.
Philomena is the tale of a mother and a son whose lives were scarred by the forces of hypocrisy on both sides of the Atlantic and of the secrets they were forced to keep. 
With a foreword by Judi Dench, Martin Sixsmith's book is a compelling and deeply moving narrative of human love and loss, both heartbreaking yet ultimately redemptive.

Published by: First published by Macmillan in 2010 in Paperback  under the title 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee'  re-released as 'Philmena' in 2013 to tie in with the film of the same name by Pan Books - Non Fiction.
Pages: 452  - Kindle Edition 
ISBN: 978-1-4472-4533-9


As I don't make it to the cinema very often these days I decided I would read the book to the film and wait for it to come out on DVD in order to see it.  On discussing the film with colleagues who have seen it I discovered the fundamental difference between the book and the film. Here I was thinking that I would be reading the story of Philamena Lee and her search for her lost son only to find that was not the case.  The book is a compelling read and ties in with the film brilliantly.   The differences being that the book is all about the life of Michael Anthony Hess aka Anthony Lee the lost son of Philamena Lee and the film concentrates on the story of Phiomena's search for her son .  Adopted by Doc & Marge Hess as a three year old child a long with another child Mary they moved to America. They were always told that their mothers had given them up for adoption at birth and therefore both children had a sense of abandonment. The book tells the life of Michael from the moment he is born right up until his death in 1995. Unbeknownst to each other both mother and son had searched for each other over the years but to no avail until a chance meeting with Martin Sixsmith who took up the human interest story on behalf of Philomena and her family to try and find her son.  The book concentrates on the life of Michael Hess as told by his partner of 15 years, his family and close friends and the detailed diaries of his adoptive mother Marge Hess. I would definitely recommend this as a good read but would also recommend seeing the film in order to get a balanced view of both sides of the story.  Word of warning whether you see the film or read the book or as I would recommend both you will need a large box of tissues.  Thankfully the existence of the unmarried mothers homes and the involvement of the convents and the illegal trading of children has now ceased.  The sad side of this is there will be women out there who still carry the secret of an illegitimate child born in one of these places and forced to give them up for adoption. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Beautiful Child'- Torey Hayden

 Seven year old Venus Fox never spoke, never listened, never even acknowledged another human being in the room with her. Yet an accidental playground 'bump' would release a rage frightening to behold. The school year that followed would prove to be one of the most trying, perplexing, and ultimately rewarding Torey's career, as she struggled to reach a silent child in obvious pain and remained committed to helping a 'hopeless' girl, and patiently and lovingly leading her towards the light of a new day.

Published by: Harper Element - Memoir
Year: 2007 Paper Back
Pages: 448
ISBN: 13-978-0-00-720763-3

Torey Hayden has spent her career looking after special ed children.  In 'Beautful Child' Torey shares her memories of a year spent in class with five  wonderful children. Billy, Shane, Zane, Jessie and of course Venus.  There were other children who dropped in and out of this class but these five were her main class.  Each had their own educational needs.  Most started off being very disruptive and in the case of Venus quite aggressive.  Billy was eventually diagnosed with Dyslexia, Jessie had a diagnosis of Tourettes and twins Zane and Shane did have a diagnosis but were in need of input from a special needs teacher.  Torey tells of their individual struggles as well as their triumphs.  

I felt Torey's memories could of been shared in less than the 448 pages but that's just my opinion.  I must admit I did think that the book was going to concentrate more on Venus and how she eventually got this young girl to break her silence.  The book actually focuses more on the whole class rather than one individual and it wasn't really until Chapter 24 out of 35 that you really got to understand the complexity of Venus's problems both emotional and physical. 

It is the first book of Torey Hayden's that I have read, having a child with ASD I am always drawn to books around speech or the lack of.  Fortunately our number 3 does have speech and communicates very well albeit that sometimes he gets a little muddles. This book was from a book swap with a colleague at work and we both came to similar conclusions.  That said we both said we would read more of Torey Hayden's books in the future.