I found this a really interesting book and certainly one that had me turning those pages; the very nature of the content and the fact it’s a true stor...moreI found this a really interesting book and certainly one that had me turning those pages; the very nature of the content and the fact it’s a true story is the books forward momentum.
The story begins in 1979 when Jacky goes on holiday to Egypt with her then boyfriend whom she gets separated from when they try to get off a bus in Cairo. Jacky finds herself alone, with a twisted ankle, in a residential area and is picked up by two young Egyptian men who escort her into the nearest appartment where she is welcomed by the family who nurse her until she can walk again. The appartment is small and Jacky can only communicate with the 15 year old daughter who is learning English at school but she is drawn to Omar, one of the older brothers and even though they can’t speak to each other there is clearly a mutual attraction. Over the next two weeks the family take Jacky on outings around Cairo and further afield and Jacky finds herslef falling in love with the family and also with Omar (they both discover that they can just about communicate to each other in French and their friendship blossoms). Before the holiday is over, Omar has not only proposed to Jacky and talked his family but they have also married.
Over the next eight years in Cairo, the once mild mannered and loving Omar changes into a controlling and angry man who beats his wife on an almost weekly basis and makes her life a living hell. The conditions and squalar that her and her children are forced to live in is a world away from the life she knew back home and rather than upset her parents she writes home about the good life that she is living and how happy she is.
The book opens with Jacky and her two children’s attempted escape back to England, from Cario to the Israeli border. There are so many challenges along the way that even though the escape has been long planned down to the minutest detail, we are still routing for her and wondering if she will actually make it. The answer doesn’t come until the end of the book.
Having lived and worked in the Middle East and spent a lot of time in Egypt, books of this nature do interest me. This is one of the better ones, I feel, as it is written in a way that is accessible to all (it sometimes has the feel of a YA book in its narrative, which I actually think is a good thing -allowing it to be read and understood by different audiences).
The book is the story of what happened to Jacky in the early 80′s and it is possible that things have changed since then (with more access to media from across the world) but even so this is a pretty stark warning to think before you act.
It's been quite a while since I've read a memoir. I used to devour them when I was younger but in recent years I have got so sick of seeing the mis-me...moreIt's been quite a while since I've read a memoir. I used to devour them when I was younger but in recent years I have got so sick of seeing the mis-mems littering the shelves in supermarkets and bookshops: "Don't Hit me with That Bottle of Vodka, Mummy" or "Daddy, Please Don't Make Me Steel Another Packet of Cigarettes For You " (you get the picture). Something about the Far From the Land caught my interest though; a mixture of the cover (which I think if beautiful) and the fact that it isn't a hard-luck, triumph-over-adversity type memoir. Thomas J Rice's book is "a telling of a culture that no longer existed" and a "memoir about the way of life he had abandoned but that had not abandoned him".
Tom Rice (or Sonny as he was known back then) was born in 1940's Ireland and lived on a farm with no electricity with his Mother and six older sisters. The telling of Tom's childhood is of a simple time when his days consisted of helping his Mother milk the cows, surrounded by a gaggle of mewing cats, playing in the fields surrounding the farm with his friends and sing-alongs round the kitchen table. Being an absolute sucker for animals, most of my favourite parts involved dogs, cats or horses. I laughed out loud at Tom's very protective dogs snarling and barking at anyone who came up the path, his first dog Captain who was so protective that when he was helping Tom round up the cows he did his job a little too thoroughly and a few poor and unsuspecting cows got a nip on the backside. Another favourite moment of mine was when the young Tom wanted to copy his older friend Davy who was ploughing the fields with his horses, Tom would tether up the dogs and have him pull him up and down the fields too.
One of my favourite characters in the book was Tom's Mother, Maggie O'Toole, a feisty, independent woman with a really interesting story of her own (in fact, her story would make a great book). When Tom finally left Ireland in 1959, he took his Mother with him. This is a book of two halves: An Irish childhood in a remote farm and a ticket to the industrial north of England where Tom experienced racism for the first time.
I enjoyed this book. To fans of biographies and memoirs and anyone who enjoys reading about life in Ireland or the Irish it's well worth a read. I hope you enjoy. (less)
What a lovely little book. Twain explores what it could have been like for two very different people to discover the odd world around them and he does...moreWhat a lovely little book. Twain explores what it could have been like for two very different people to discover the odd world around them and he does it with much humour. Watching both Adam and Eve play their sterotypical roles to perfection is redemed by Twain’s humour; Adam wanting to do nothing but build things and Eve wanting to do nothing but talk (much to Adam’s dismay) is both funny and lovable. Eve wants to discover everything; she names all the animal and mothers them all, she delights in every new thing she discovers.
Entry from Adam’s diary: “Perhaps I ought to remember that she is very young, a mere girl, and make allowances. She is all interest, eagerness, vivacity. The world to her is a charm, a wonder, a mystery, a joy. She can’t speak for delight when she finds a new flower; she must pet it and caress it and smell it and talk to it and pour out endearing names upon it. And she is colour mad: brown rocks, yellow sand, gray moss, green foliage, blue sky – the pearl of the dawn, the purple shadows on the mountains, the golden islands floating in crimson seas at sunset, the palid moon moon sailing through the shredded cloud-rack, the star-jewels glittering in the wastes of space.”
How wonderful to be able to look at the world through those fresh eyes and see so much beauty in it. That part was as beautiful as it was amusing to see Adam’s confusion to why she is so in awe of everything.
When Adam comes home from a few days trip away he finds Eve with something can he is convinced is a fish until he put it in the water to see and it sank. He then decides that it must be both kangaroo and bear before finally settling on the fact that it may be one of them. As well as Cain and Abel, the couple go on to have 7 more children (two of them named Gladys and Edwina!). Their long life togehter inc ludes their first experience of death and not understanding it, and their unconditional partnership until Eve finally goes to her grave.
Oh how I love this series! This is pure comfort reading at its very best. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard reading a book. Picking up...moreOh how I love this series! This is pure comfort reading at its very best. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard reading a book. Picking up the books in this series is like catching up with a friend for a glass of red wine by the fire.
The characters are all so brilliantly drawn that I feel I know them all. To get to know about these burly Yorkshire farmers (with all their local dialect thrown in to boot) is a joy and a priviledge.
I was planning on a break before picking up number 3 in the series but now I'm not so sure I can resist picking it straight up and diving in - that's how addictive they are.(less)
What a wonderful trip down memory lane this book was. I remember watching the TV series back in the 70's and 80's and picking this book up for the fir...moreWhat a wonderful trip down memory lane this book was. I remember watching the TV series back in the 70's and 80's and picking this book up for the first time was like settling down by the fire with old friends.
Set in the Yorkshire Dales, this is the first book in a series by rookie vet James Herriot and his new life in the countryside and among the animals and his struggle to win over the old Yorkshire farmers and eccentric characters he meets there. There were so many times when I literally laughed out loud (once in a quiet hospital corridor while waiting for someone to come out of the theatre - which got me a few horrified looks!). The character of Mrs Pumphrey and her dog Tricki Woo had me bent over crying with laughter!
I just loved this book. I live in Yorkshire, about an hour from the Dales, and it has made me want to jump in my car and head off to Herriot country; the whole place just came alive with his passion for the region. I am really looking forward to reading the rest in the series - this is the sort of comfort reading that I know I can look forward to if I need a break from real life. In the words of James Herriot while describing his beloved countryside - I felt like I could breathe. This book is a real tonic - highly recommended. (less)