Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Favourite Reads of 2016: Memoirs

Since it was someone else's memoir that inspired me to start writing them, I suppose it's not surprising that I still love reading memoirs and especially boating and travel memoirs.

I've read a good few of these this year too, and the ones I've enjoyed the most in 2016 are listed below:

Jackie Parry's This is It: A riveting and exciting sailing memoir that makes you wonder how people's courage and endurance can cope with such pressure. An astonishing trip that Jackie Parry and her husband Noel make from California, where they buy their sailing boat, down to Ecuador, then to Easter Island and back across the Pacific to Australia. Thousands of miles, terrifying storms, wonderful people and fascinating places. A must read if you have a yen to break all boundaries and cast off all ropes.



Mildred Aldrich's  A Hilltop on the Marne: a fascinating collection of letters written between 1914 and 1917 by an American woman who elects to stay in France at the outbreak of WW1. Her home is in a village on the Marne and she is more than a little up close and personal with the French and British forces during much of the action in the area. I found it very interesting and beautifully written. I kept thinking about it and the different view it gave me of history long after I'd finished reading it.





Hart Massey's Travels with Lionel. One of my favourite boating memoirs ever. It's such a shame the author is no longer alive and the book is not available in e-book form. Sadly there's no good cover image of it either. However, this is a funny and fascinating account of a Canadian couple in their sixties who buy a barge in France and travel throughout the country as well as through Germany and the Netherlands too. I loved it! There is a sequel called Leaky Iron Boat which I have but haven't read yet.




Susan Joyce's Good Morning Diego Garcia. Another fabulous and exciting sailing memoir, although this one reads more like a thriller than a memoir. Susan and her husband, whom she suspects of involvement in all sorts of secret and nefarious intelligence activities, set off on a journey with friends, who also seem to be mixed up in some strange business, from Sri Lanka to Israel. Unfortunately, they leave in the Monsoon season and are subjected to a horrendous series of storms during which Susan has a chance to look into her own strengths and resources very closely. A thoroughly thrilling read.



Lucinda E Clarke's  More Truth, Lies and Propaganda. This is a riveting memoir about Lucinda's life in South Africa as a film maker for public broadcasting and education. Having been much involved in the film industry in South Africa myself, I was totally immersed in this book very quickly, but even for those who haven't had that experience, it's a fascinating, often funny, and compelling read.



* Joe Carroll's Frogs and Frigate Birds. Every time Jo Carroll goes off travelling and writes about her experiences, I have to read them. I love her writing style and she often goes to places I would love to visit myself. This is no exception. Frogs and Frigate Birds is about her trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. I lapped it up as always, and only wished it were longer. I'm now looking forward to her next travelogue.



These are the memoirs that have topped my bill this last year. My choices are totally subjective and based on my personal interests. There are also a few others I've read and thoroughly enjoyed that are worth mentioning, though, so here they are. I've posted the links to the Amazon pages too.

*Beth Haslam's Fat Dogs and French Estates (Parts 1 and 2) Amusing and well written memoirs about searching for a home in France. The author's lovely personality really makes these books.

Julie Watson's Born For Life: A Midwife's Story is a moving memoir about the author's journey to become a fully qualified midwife in the face of many personal and emotional struggles.

Shirley Ledlie's  Naked in the Wind is about how the author takes on the French pharmaceutical companies and legal system when she loses her hair permanently following chemotherapy. A very courageous, gutsy woman.

Roger Distill's Life with our Feet under water: a gentle, chatty and charming memoir about a couple's first few years of living on a narrowboat. Very enjoyable.

Linda Kovic-Skow French Illusions. Vibrant and fun.  Twenty-one year old Linda bluffs her way into a position as a nanny in a French country home, but then finds out things are not quite as she expected.



10 comments:

  1. These all look so interesting Val. I hope to read more biographies and memoirs this year.

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    1. They are, Anne! I have an insatiable curiosity for real life stories and adventures, so memoirs are great for me. I'm currently reading A Scorpion in the Lemon Tree, by Marjory McGinn. It's set in Greece and is fascinating. I think you'd probably enjoy all her books as you like learning new things from what you read!

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  2. Gosh Val, I read a lot but have not read a single one of these! What a great looking list to keep by me for 2017

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    1. If you like memoirs, Stephanie, maybe you could join the FB group We Love Memoirs. You'll be amazed at what you find there. I always am!

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  3. I'm humbled to be in such company.

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    1. You'd better get used to it, Jo. You'll always be in my favourites list!

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  4. An eclectic mix! And of course, it's Lucinda E. Clarke's memoir that most caught my eye.

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    1. This is the second of the Truth, Lies and Propaganda books, Laura. I loved them both!

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  5. Thank you Val for the support you give to us all. You are a tireless worker. Have a wonderful year in 2017 and I look forward to reading your gems in the coming year.

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    1. Bless you, Julie! That's so kind of you to say so. Wishing you all the very best as well! I hope 2017 is a very good year for you too.

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