A Time To Dance, No Time To Weep

by Rumer Godden

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My head is spinning after reading Rumer Godden’s impossibly full life – well part of her life. This book finishes in 1946 when RG (as I call her) was only 39.

I will certainly be looking for the other parts, including the ones written with her elder sister Jon Godden

Growing up in India (where RG had an injury more serious than first realised), a disastrous (for RG & her sisters) return to England, where the girls didn’t fit in, back to India, where in spite of injury RG ran a dance school, a broken engagement, an unhappy marriage to a wastrel… don’t you already want to go phew!

I love that RG didn’t go into too much detail about the books, even about her thought processes writing them. Too often biographies/memoirs give too much away & any unread novels are spoilt for this reader. A life so full and adventurous that taking her two daughters and her Pekinese dogs on long arduous treks barely mentions a few lines. Reader of several of her books (most notably The Greengage Summer & Kingfishers Catch Fire will find RG takes inspiration from her own life and puts it into her writing.

In parts RG is quite brutally frank – I wonder how the child of another friend felt about RG’s honest account of her feelings about this boy.

…but Dudi, whom I could not like, a fat little boy with long golden curls and a high whining voice…

The last part about the attempts to poison RG, her daughters & a friend(I did say – one action packed life!) are almost glossed over. These events lead to RG never being able to return to Kashmir and the loss of a friendship that clearly meant a lot to her.

This return to England, in spite of all the trauma, finishes on a hopeful note;

Now on the quay at Liverpool that miserable morning I had two things; rolled up, under my arm, was the Agra rug and, in my suitcase, a finished book, the manuscript of The River.

We could start over.

Know My Name

by Chanel Miller

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Powerful, powerful.

It felt almost like reading a journal. I think the length of the book was necessary to show how long this case dragged on, with several postponements and the difficulties this caused for Chanel’s supporters and Chanel herself. I felt despairing, wondering if an end would ever be reached.

A strong woman who has found a beautiful writing voice.

When society questions a victim’s reluctance to report, I will be here to remind you that you ask us to sacrifice our sanity to fight outdated structures that were designed to keep us down…The real question we need to be asking is not, Why didn’t she report, the question is, Why would you?

Chanel Miller

Becoming

by Michelle Obama

Rating: 5 out of 5.

So much has already been written about this memoir – do I have more to add?

Of course I do!

Will it be anything fresh? Maybe not, but I found this book so inspiring, so I want to record my thoughts

Michelle’s parents may not have been wealthy, but they instilled in Michelle the precious gift of self belief and that working hard would have it’s own rewards. The messages in this book are so inspiring.
This book is full of quotable quotes and many are listed on Goodreads.

If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.

For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.

There are so many more. Her message is always positive, with the exception of her thoughts on Trump (pg 352 on my copy)

Just before starting this memoir I watched the James Corden Carpool Karaoke again.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln3wAdRAim4&list=RDMMln3wAdRAim4&start_radio=1

The Sun in the Morning

The Sun in the Morning

The Sun in the Morning by M.M. Kaye

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


There are three factors that make this a really impressive memoir.

𓇼Kaye has an impressive (she says photographic) memory. If she can’t remember something (or remembers imprecisely) she says so.

𓇼 A fascinating early life.

𓇼 She waited until she was very old before writing. This enabled Kaye to say what she really thought. & Kaye certainly takes full advantage of this freedom!

In this book’s forward, one of Kaye’s daughters was travelling in the far east but said she was about ten years too late.

“To which I replied sadly that she had not been ten years too late, but thirty at the very least.

I, however, had not been too late. It has been my great good fortune to see India when that once fabulously beautiful land was as lovely, and to a great extent as peaceful and unspoiled, as Eden before the Fall. To live for two years in Peking in an old Chinese house, once the property of a Manch Prince, at a time when the citizens of that country still wore their national costumes instead of dressing up – or down! – in dull Russian-style “uniforms. To have visited Japan before war, the Bomb and the American occupation altered it beyond recognition, when the sight of a Japanese woman in European dress was unusual enough to make you turn and stare…”

Kaye was born in India, the second of three children. Her adored father (who she nicknamed Tacklow)served in the Indian army, a linguist and code cracker. Her childhood was happy but certainly not a total fairy tale. Her elder brother was sent “home” to England to be educated, Kaye had one sadistic governess who tortured her with doses of castor oil. But Mollie & her younger sister Bets overall loved it all & were heartbroken when they in turn were sent home to England to be educated. Mollie seems to have benefitted very little from the mediocre education she received and it was indeed fortunate that she had enough artistic ability to dream of a career as an illustrator.

I had a lot of trouble putting this memoir aside for anything! Who Kaye loved she really loved – Bets, childhood friend Bargie- but she is unsparing to those she disliked, for example her paternal grandparents. I have never read so honest a memoir and will definitely be looking for Past 2 –Golden Afternoon

Although Kaye herself hated this particular costume (even though she normally liked fancy dress) she looks so darn adorable. So, here she is!

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