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I was not anxious to go. There was something about France in those days which looked to me, despite all journalistic enchanters, to be dangerous.

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In what is one of the finest autobiographies to come out of the First World War, the distinguished poet Edmund Blunden records his experiences as an infantry subaltern in France and Flanders. In his compassionate yet unsentimental prose, he tells of the heroism and despair found among the officers. It was a cover story, a painful past written over and repainted. It was a story of survival.

It is full of hurt and humour and a fierce love of life. It is about the pursuit of happiness, about lessons in love, the search for a mother and a journey into madness and out again. It is generous, honest and true. That what was left out. It took me a long time to read this memoir. The first part, until Jeanette leaves home at 16 and her mother asks her the question that has become the title of the book, is painful and disturbing for many reasons. The wit and the humor she uses to describe her awful childhood made me shudder.

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I was glad she proved to be so resilient, but it made me uneasy. I kept on thinking: When is it going to happen? When will she break down? Is that still in the future?


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  • Sleeping with Cats: A Memoir.
  • ISBN 13: 9780066211152.
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  • The second part of the book deals with what came much later. Reading that felt like entering a freshly aired room. I know this may sound weird, but the beginning made me choke. Now she can move on. Jeanette Winterson was adopted by the Wintersons when she was 6 months old. She was never told who her real parents were and her mother always said that the devil led them to the wrong crib, meaning she would have liked another child, a nicer child.

    This is such a typical statement from a woman like Mrs Winterson who is a depressed zealot and always utters half-truths in bible-inspired metaphor. Jeanette Winterson says that all of her books start with individual meaningful sentences and we see where that comes from. Sometimes without any apparent connection to what just happens or what was just said.

    The Wintersons are not only religious fanatics but working class and her mother is so suspicious of books that she confiscates and burns all of those Jeanette has been hiding. Punishment is frequent and comes in different forms. Either Jeanette is beaten or left outside all night and day, on the door step, even in winter. When she falls in love with a girl, and Mrs W finds out, they perform an exorcism. Jeannette finally leaves at I marked so many passages and sentences that hardly any page is left white.

    Jeanette Winterson has a way with words that is amazing. In her novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit , Jeanette Winterson paints her mother like a giantess and in her memoir she says she was too large for her circumstances. I was puzzled that there was no explanation whatsoever why Mrs W was the way she was. Mean, fanatic, abusive, depressed and just plain crazy. She had her dreams and her wishes, but smothered them. She lived as if she was wearing a very tight corset. The Wintersons were Pentecostals and the religion was like a mental corset.

    If you like memoir, then you should read this. Mrs Winterson is crazy, but she really is larger than life. We read about her with horror, but at the same time we almost wishes we had been there. I even felt compassion, there were small details that could almost make her endearing. I can understand that thinking very well. The beginning of each chapter is dedicated to the book they have been reading and the discussion they have. The book choices are varied and I loved reading about them. His mother must have been a very courageous woman.

    She helped refugees all over the world and put herself in great danger to do so. She was a fighter but at the same time she was a genuinely kind woman and to read about her and the love the people felt for her is quite beautiful. Years that she lived to the fullest, not missing any opportunity to enjoy life and do good. This is quite admirable.

    I liked her belief that you should never look away from what is bad in our world but always strive to do good. I feel heartless writing this but the book did not work for me. I have no problem to read about terminal illness. And of course I love reading about books but in a way, I felt this memoir was too personal. Since they wrote a blog about her illness to keep family and friends updated, I suspect, large portions of this book were based on those entries.

    This may be a reason why the writing was a bit bland. I think this is a book which could be of great help if you have a friend or relative who has cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. It shows extremely well and in a lot of detail what can be done, what the side effects of some of the therapies are and when you have to decide to let go.

    Reading about it made me sick. He starts by describing his earliest memories, the beauty he experienced, the love he received from his parents and grandparents. Most prominent in his memories is his last summer holiday as a child of five when he and his parents visited the grand parents in the Carpathians. These sensory memories will haunt him all his life. But this idyllic summer is the last peaceful moment of his childhood.

    Books, Movies, Art, Writing, and Cats

    Hitler comes to power, war breaks out. At first the family lives in a ghetto, later on they are transported to the camps. Both his parents are killed, his mother right at the beginning of the war. The memoir is a book of a rare beauty. It taps into the deepest recesses of the soul where vague and sensory memories are stored.

    Because he was a child and a taciturn child at that, he is lacking words for what has happened to him. Some people, some stories stand out but a lot is just like shadows on the wall. The loss of his mother tongue leads to further fragmentation. In his family they spoke three different languages, on his long escape to Italy and from there to Palestine, there are more languages spoken and when he finally arrives in Palestine he has to let go of all of them and learn a new one, Hebrew. This is all painful. Especially not when you felt you wanted to talk about what happened and later to write about it.

    Applefeld had to overcome an incredible amount of obstacles before becoming the writer he is today. He had to dig out his memories from where they were buried, find the right words, find the right language. He had to fight hostility too.

    Cat Marnell Is Still Alive

    Every single one of his books is an attempt to capture what happened to him and how it felt. Add to Basket. Book Description William Morrow, Condition: New. More information about this seller Contact this seller. Book Description William Morrow.

    Sleeping With Cats: A memoir by Piercy, Marge

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