Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Ventricle of Memory - Review

The Ventricle of Memory: A memoir
by Shelagh Duckham Cox

Born just prior to WW2, the author starts her story with her early memories of growing up then having to be evacuated to North Wales as the attacks on Britain escalated.
  There she spent the rest of the war until in 1945, with her family, she sailed to America where her Father was employed. She describes the wonder of America after the austere years of the war in Britain and then their return to Britain in 1950 where rationing was still in effect and the country still looked drab and bleak.
    In a time when few British fathers envisioned a higher education for their daughters the author studied at St Andrews and describes the life as a student and the freedom within the constraints of social propriety of the time.
  Marriage followed, with a rather disastrous honeymoon in a small hotel and I was rather surprised to read about the “unwritten rule that a new bride must talk to no one but her husband till after the honeymoon”.
   The author describes her relationship with her beloved mother and father throughout the book and analyses the social norms of the time that made their interactions so very different from today. Even during her mother’s terminal illness there were constraints that left a lot unsaid, but emotions were still felt very deeply.
   Work brought her family of now 3 children to New Zealand as part of the ‘10 pound Pom’ programme. They settled in Levin and the comparisons between her old life and the new are descriptively written.
   The book is beautifully written throughout as the author remembers and describes small events in her life with great clarity and this increases the richness of the reading.
    She describes historical events that were familiar to me, but living in New Zealand with a more carefree life, they did not have the same impact, apart from the sinking of the Wahine. I felt the horror of that day as I was transported back to where I was and how it affected me, my friends and colleagues as we huddled around the radio and TV listening for updates throughout the day.
    Any reader will love this book as they read the author’s memories of a lifetime of living in very different lands.

Review by Merilyn Mary
Title: The Ventricle of Memory
Author: Shelagh Duckham Cox
Publisher: Mary Egan Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-473-36386-4
RRP: $34.99
Available: Bookshops

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