A fascinating story of discovery spanning the 20th and 21st Centuries.
About the book: When Jay Harding is given his grandmother June’s diary after her death he discovers a vivid picture depicting one Englishwoman’s life from childhood during the dark times of wartime Britain up to the present day. But he’s already learned dark secrets. Prior to her passing his grandmother had told him the story of her forebears beginning in the early optimistic years of the twentieth century, before the world was torn apart by the cataclysm of the first terrible ‘war to end all wars.’ That account gave testimony to shocking abuse, institutional cruelty and tragedy. Now he reads on . . .
As Jay journeys through the rich tapestry of his family history we find that in many ways it’s the reader’s own. For every family has a story to be told. Intertwined threads of earlier lives influence who we become. Jay sees his ancestors’ histories in handwritten pages yellowed with age; in sepia and black-and-white pictures dulled by time; in a poignant remembrance of lost love in a silver frame; has heard it told in his grandmother’s voice, tremulous in her decline. In exploring his forebears’ histories, Jay finds the rich echoes of the past resonating with his love-blessed present, inspiring him to meet the future.
Several themes run in parallel through this rich novel: the repercussions of sexual abuse, the continuum of female sexual reproduction, the woman’s view of fighting wars and running the world and the changing social mores throughout the twentieth century. It is a compelling social and family history; that of so many families of the last one-hundred-and-five years.
This story starts with Jay, standing in the church at the funeral of his Grandmother, June. After the wake, his Granddad offers him the opportunity to read his Grandmother’s diaries, which she has kept since she was a child.
That night, Jay and his partner Helen snuggle up together and open one of the journals….
As they begin turning the pages, they find themselves drawn back through the years to June’s childhood. But then another, parallel narrative appears: we are taken back two more generations to begin with June’s own grandmother. The story spans 105 years, and follows generations of the same family, down the female line, starting with Juniper, an attractive young woman who becomes a Governess in 1906. Her life, like so many others was moulded by circumstances beyond her control. When World War 1 started, everyone, including her boyfriend was sure it would be over by Christmas, but unfortunately, as we know it was not, and our glimpse into her life gives a wonderful insight into what living before, during and after the First World War was really like.
As the story progresses, I found it fascinating to read about the changes in attitudes, fashions and morals throughout the 20th and into the 21st Century.
At the end there is the opportunity to sample the authors debut novel ‘Convergence’, which is about Martin, one of the characters in this book.
This, in my opinion would make a good book for students of Modern History to read, or anyone interested in family life in the 20th and 21st Century. Within its pages you will find it all, love, life, birth death, the full gamut of emotions. At the very end there is a satisfying, surprise plot twist.
Available at Amazon.com in Kindle format http://www.amazon.com/Forebears-John-Needham-ebook/dp/B00IAZX3Y2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392033154&sr=8-1&keywords=Forebears+by+john+needham
and Amazon.co.uk also in Kindle format http://www.amazon.co.uk/Forebears-John-Needham-ebook/dp/B00IAZX3Y2/ref=cm_cr-mr-img