I loved Cynthia Reyes’s first Memoir A Good Home, so I picked up the continuing story An Honest House in happy anticipation. This is a book with a perfect title and has been
my companion during a more than hectic summer. The night before my own book launch I read the words ‘And then it was May 17, only one day before the book launch’. Coin-cidences aside, this book faced up to some very difficult themes with total honesty. A supremely difficult life-changing event – a car accident, and its consequences – physical impairment, chronic pain and PTSD are things that can and do happen to anyone. They are explored with a rare mixture of humour and intensity.
This book is a bumpy ride, where the highs and lows follow each other in quick succession – I laughed over the Valentine, I wept over Keats, I laughed over ‘a job that pays’. There are few easy-walking meadows in this story, because it is about the mountains and valleys. Among the things that struck me was Cynthia’s insistence on facing up to something we all know – it is never a good time for a difficult or dangerous conversation – and dealing with it so courageously.
When the story introduces the ultimate twist, it is even more powerful, because it is true. The whole book is about honesty, love, family life, happiness and faith. And if, like me, you do not have the kind of faith Cynthia has, this is also fine. She makes it easy to empathise with her faith instead.
By chance, I was given another very slim memoir titled Ann during this period. This was a private summary of a life of drama, pain, good homes, faith and also much happiness. I am so grateful Cynthia and Ann for telling us their stories of family life, so that none of us feel alone when we, too, meet the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
And talking of families, the most wonderful gift arrived from my American son-in-law’s parents, Sharon and Rick. Here is a poor photo of my beautiful new little tree, an Albizia julibrissin. There will be more in the future.
You kin write and you kin also review. I hate you. Not. XXOXOXO
But you should see the things I kinnot do! Hugs.
I hope they would at least fill a small carton …
Thank you, Hilary, for such a thoughtful and kind review. I am honoured, and especially so because it comes from someone whose own writing is impressive. (I agree with M-R: You kin write AND review!)
Your life and work are both amazing and An Honest House had a special resonance for me. I don’t think I have the courage or ability to write autobiographically.
Courage? To take on what you have with your new book – that takes a certain courage. I know there is a difference, but I think courage often follows determination. And we don’t know we were courageous till much later!
I really enjoyed that review and I’m not usually one for book reviews. It was beautifully written. And what a marvellous present to get! (But they didn’t send it from America, did they??)
No, they didn’t send it from America. It was very exciting, I had an envelope postmarked locally, with a gift from the local garden centre. The only clue to the giver was in a sweet message ending ‘love, Sharon’. I knew of no likely Sharon locally, so I rang the garden centre. They couldn’t give me a name, but remember a phone conversation and the giver had an American voice… it was all very magical!
I am going to look for that boo know.
Read A Good Home first, it is immensely entertaining and I think you would enjoy it.
“The book is a bumpy ride.” Nice description for the ups and downs of life, Hillary. Like the plant. –Curt
Thanks. I am still looking for the right place in the garden for the plant!
I recently gifted the Good Home to someone. The other one looks good :).
You can’t go wrong with these.
Cynthia rocks and so do you! Wonderful review~
She does, and thanks so much.
That little tree looks promising.
It is a bit scary too, because it has dropped some leaves since I repotted it, but there is now new growth, so I am hopeful.
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I am a fan of Cynthia’s books, too, and I enjoyed your review.
Yes, they are a testament to all the best human qualities, with some fun thrown in too.
Thank you for your review of Cynthia’s book. It served as a reminder that I still have it on my electronic bookshelf to read. I first learned of the book through https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/ and tried/failed to download it as we sailed out of Australia. I have now downloaded it an look forward to the read. Nice tree!
It’s a good book for reading in small doses as each chapter is a separate reminiscence or challenge.
I’ve had a look at the first few pages and already love her writing style ✨