My rating: 4/10.
A tragic family story, and much as I respected the author’s desire to record it, it didn’t quite come to life as it might have. Perhaps the attempts at dialect and dialogue didn’t really work out?
This has a small press, “self published” feel to it. It definitely could have used a stronger editorial presence, to clean up grammar, punctuation and proof reading errors, all of which were much too frequent, and got in the way of my fully appreciating the narrative.
From the back cover:
“I promise I will always look afta’ my sista’ no matter what, I will never let go of her hand.”
Little did young Simone realize, as she made this promise to her aunt, that she and young Catherine would spend the next 65 years trying to reconnect.
Abandoned by their parents and separated by the British adoption system, these two young girls would face impersonal orphanages, brutal boarding-out homes, a world war, and separation by an ocean and two continents before they finally met again – in Victoria, B.C.
This is their story as told to the daughter of one of them. It is a story of pain and courage – and hope.
Born to a mismatched couple in the 1920s – their mother “married beneath her” – young Simone and Catherine were placed with relatives when their baby brother tragically died in a gruesome accident (vividly – perhaps too vividly! – recreated by the author) and the marriage dissolved. After a few years, the relatives were unable to financially manage the care of the sisters, so they were placed in a series of children’s homes, always with the proviso that they remain together.
Sadly, this request was not respected, and Catherine and Simone were separated suddenly and without explanation. Though they both attempted to find each other through the years to follow, they were completely unsuccessful, and all attempts at gaining information from the British children’s care ministry were met with stark refusals and, eventually, threats of prosecution.
A damning condemnation of the conditions and attitudes of the time which made such an abusive (and just plain wrong) situation possible.
The story does have a happy, late-in-the-day reunification. Both sisters were also fortunate in finding caring spouses and creating satisfying lives for themselves, but the thread of sadness at the loss of their “true family” wound through their lives, and influenced the lives of their children.
This is a work of creative non-fiction which works reasonably well; it is the author’s first published work. Cynthia Faryon originally wrote it as a family document, but at the request of the her mother, the “Simone” of the story, the author sought and found a publisher for it, Prince George, B.C.’s Caitlin Press.
Sadly, the publisher did not edit and polish the manuscript to the extent which it deserved; I feel that a much stronger editorial hand would have resulted in a more smooth and successful presentation of a fascinating and poignant family saga.
I will be passing this book along via a BookCrossing.com release sometime in the near future.