Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.

Now is a shadow.
A tightrope suspended over darkness.
Perhaps you stand six inches above a cushioned floor,
Perhaps you waiver up beyond the clouds,
With harsh and jagged rocks waiting down below.
The risk is why your past seems so inviting,
Beckoning you home with a sure and warm embrace,
Where waits a list you know so well.

Tomorrow is a lion poised to strike.
A surging wave crashing on the shore.
A race that’s still to run.
The triumph or tragedy is still yours to claim,
Your fate lies unresolved ahead.

Home is yesterday,
Settled and owned.
The present waits at your front door,
Tomorrow is every possibility beyond.

Will you stay home and ask what could have been?
Will you hide away, assured and safe?

No hurt or failure lurks on such familiar ground,
All thoughts distracted by a stream of shows you’ve seen before.
Or could you be so brave to head out and meet that storm?
Searching out to breach the unknown day? 

Regrets attack whatever you decide.
Though failures pale behind the choices never made.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Which Way Do You Swing? - Politics

Most conservative policies seem to help big business and entrepreneurs by extending tax breaks, incentives and reducing red-tape. These policies assist those already managing.  Sometimes by a little, sometimes a lot. It is the politics and policies of capitalism that fuel the age of the billionaires, and the promise that everyone can achieve those heights. 

These same policies tend to leave those not managing untouched, or, on occasion, worse off, usually in real terms across time, making it harder to quantify any direct disadvantage from an individual policy.

These are policies promoted as celebrating success and allowing the 'job-makers' to take advantage of the system, up to and including, rorting that system. Success and financial power seem to make all these indiscretions tolerable.  

The left finds these greedy, grifting, profiteering examples intolerable and they shout about them as if these are the only examples that exist. They are not. These policies help and support some truly deserving business models, across the economic spectrum, to survive and thrive.

The progressive left puts forward policies that reduce the ability of the successful to make higher profits and placing more restrictions and oversight on businesses. This makes the difficult early years of small business and small sole traders even more precarious. The left also seeks a basic minimum standard of living for all, universal health care, they look to environmental issues at the expense of corporate profits and ensure those on the lowest rungs of society can maintain an equitable standard of living.

These policies are designed to raise the greatest number possible out of poverty and ensure that working full time is rewarded with a liveable wage that covers life's basics and provides for a family. This also allows some to choose not to work and live solely off welfare. 

The right finds these greedy, grifting, freeloading examples intolerable and they shout about them as if these are the only examples that exist. They are not. These policies help and support some truly deserving individuals being let down by a system purported to be looking out for everyone.

I've always felt things work best when liberals and conservatives exchange power at around a 2 to 3 ratio. The right builds up the wealth with a strong economy and the left reforms social policies to help those who slip through the net of the conservative economic lift.


The ratio has slipped across the world because the right has outplayed the left at politics. This has happened because the left regard morality in politics as a badge of honour, and the right has long ago recognised that badges are worthless. 

Once morals counted for something in life and in politics, but then came the age of spin where both side's spokespeople focused only on the faults of the other side, and never with themselves. Where no mistake is owned or corrected and doing the right thing, a standard that was once the default, or at least the desired position, is now the exception.

How did we get here? 

It began when those charged with holding leaders responsible, the fourth estate, the news journalists, became confused with being personalities and entertainers. 

When equal representation of both points of view became more important than facts as determined and checked by multiple sources by professionally trained, skilled and schooled journalists whose reputations depended on their accuracy, facts became irrelevant.

When the politically correct ideal of regarding every view as relevant and worth scrutiny on official news broadcasts became a benchmark, this worthy notion was exploited by those looking to hide issues, spin alternative facts and obfuscate truths. You can shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and get away with it provided you do something provocative enough to misdirect people from your crime. Throw in some 'what-about-ism', cloud the facts with suggestions the victim had a gun or a record, and alert the press that many other people shot people on the same day, and your crime will hardly rate a mention. 

When the opinion/editorial/op-ed piece began to be presented alongside news with little or no delineation, news reporting stopped being news and became political propaganda. The ultimate extension of this is the dedicated partisan network that says whatever is needed by the government to convince people it's news. It is believed for no other reason than it looks like a news channel.

The multiplatform social media landscape has allowed every opinion to be a truth as the presenter presents it. All too often the term 'do your own research', a term intended to mitigate legal issues over commentary of stocks and investments has permeated into every opinion put forward as a phrase to legitimise that opinion by alerting you to the existence of any number of 'opinions' online that back up the opinion being put forward. 'Do your own research' now means, go and read equally dubious opinion pieces posted online by others who share my views.

If you see spokes-people introduced from two sides of politics or from two sides of a contentious issue, what is the point of staying to watch? Professional press agents now spruik their well-rehearsed talking points without ever listening to the other side, and those talking points are always extreme examples. For their team, they put forward positive outliers, for the other side, the negative outliers, and each example gets promoted as examples of the norm - which they are definitely not.  

Politics has stopped being an avenue of service to do the greater good and is now an avenue to get what lobbyists want and stop the will of the people from participating. Journalists began this slide into the darkness of opinions based on wants instead of facts, and the internet has sped it up and made us all contribute to the demise of facts.

How many false stories have been reposted on scientific, medical, political and even current events?

   

What happened to common sense and genuinely doing your own research? Question opinions by seeking out multiple sources of facts as published by respected and accredited institutions and experts with current accredited standing. I want to hear other people's opinions, but I want to know they've taken some time and given some effort towards forming them. Reading a headline and reposting something without scrutiny becomes a waste of everyone's time, or worse, another nail in the coffin of our entire democratic system.

Hasan Minhaj in his address at the correspondent's dinner said: "I don't have a solution of how to win back trust, but I know in the age of Trump, you guys (the media) have to be more perfect than ever because you are how the President gets his news - not from advisors, not from experts, not from intelligent agencies - you guys. So that's why you've got to be twice as good, you've got to be on your A-game, you can't make any mistakes, because when one of you messes up - he blames your entire group; and now you know what it feels like to be a minority." 

In the dawning age of conspiracy, where friends and family regularly state alternative facts as truth, and when challenged, remain defiant and tell you to do your own research, clear thinking, factual journalism and finding alternative sources to double-check alternative facts seems to have become the individual's job. The news media has become entertainment. Politicians have become infallible. Special interest groups have become public relations spokes-people, and facts have become subjective, to be massaged, manipulated, and misrepresented as the truth. 

George Orwell saw this future in a misdirected democracy that delivered authoritarianism. His chilling dystopian tale is starting to feel all too real - the only thing George got wrong was the date.

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”

“The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.”

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

“It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”

"How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four."

"Sometimes, two and two are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once."

― George Orwell, 1984




Friday, 18 September 2020

The Plague That Dare Not Speak its Name.

 The Plague That Dare Not Speak its Name.

by Scott Norton Taylor

Four decades of tomorrows past, a fearful breeze blew in a plague, a pandemic, an intimate kiss that outed those it touched through death.

You saw the numbers frail.

You saw the body count as brothers, cousins, sons; of fathers, uncles, friends and foe alike, all coming out in failing health, with diagnosis reluctantly revealed, exposing private lives.

The stereotypes long ridiculed and held as ‘them’, not us, swiftly dropped as every kind; every colour, creed and embodiment of manly type. Teachers, lawyers, doctors, the mechanic and the cook, lined up with athletes, artists and celebrities, not one exception, not one variety unseen. Artists known and yet to make their mark: of fashion and of film, from ballet or with brush, young and old, the powerful and poor, lining up to queue towards an uninviting end.

All were seen for who they were, as whole, their entire lives revealed, chased by shame and reputations stained, as tightly sealed glass panes to lives were finally pried ajar, though friends and family quickly came to claim, their loved one’s inclusion a mistake, that window led to somewhere else afar.

Remember the boy, not yet a man, in gown and metal bed, who, at twenty-one, mistakes his nurse for mother, “I knew you’d come,” he said. But she would never come for shame and pain, and disapproval ruled her world and outshone even son.

To the young man watching friends ahead all leave; his future seen. He closed his door, with scared and lonely click to lock his tragedy away, but it escaped through quality of cuts and blade. Those who came to save a life, the holder never wanted saved, and fought against his screams that left him free to bleed, his work unfinished and undone. Convicted, tried and sent away for smearing, splattering, spraying his poison life on uniforms with lack of empathy for interruption done. Fuelled by media and lynch mob-like obsession – that lonely, desperate man spent his last days wasting in a prison.

At someone’s side, in near confusion, called to dance, marked by transfusion, a girlfriend, a wife or even newborn child, would all be vilified and shunned through ignorance towards such random chance.

The friends, who drifted quietly away, thought of infrequently, their fate and lives imagined, unrolling alongside. The unknown years, sometimes in decades glide, then shocked into reflection, a name in quilted letters found, their final autograph; few words, a date; the sum of one whole life. A flood of mournful thoughts of moments left untold, the nights of love and laughter and particular inflexions, yet, none of this is mentioned in that small, neat epitaph.

Those who flamed so bright within that overwhelming storm, their passing told of numbers unimagined, from every walk of life, from every nation born, and under every type of opaque veil. Their stories remain important, to speak, to remember, to mourn.

The green-eyed boy, with jet black hair, who fell unwell and came to tell at twenty-two of his return to boyhood home, to rest and mend; I never saw again.

My naïveté and nervous kiss of one so bright and full of life who took such care not to spread his despair, but never told of what he held within, for fear he’d never hold or love again.

At twenty-four, the call received from one so briefly known to warn I should atone and seek a clearing sheet; the fear and prayers, and frantic calls to find out what to do. My childhood doctor beaming welcome to see me fully grown who showed me quickly out his door once request for such a test was known.

Of two who rang to say farewell, their antiviral joy no friend, the stigma and fear of drugs too dear, a system geared so lowest-ranked lose their will and quickly disappear. They were supposed to go and never cause a scene, behind the privacy of their closed door, a repeated drama, a million times before – but they refused to fade, and still remain, with help, to live and love again.

Did it really happen, with all those lives now gone?

A life that ends, to relatives and friends, it leaves a monumental cost.

When numbers grow beyond account of names, all humanity is lost.

Today’s same crowd unmarked, as large as that before, sent back to hide by subtle held decree; a duality of roles; of dual lives with wives, captive to declare they’re free.

More easily disguised, as privilege lives bark nuanced calls for all to fall in line with lifestyles based on prayer, sanctified in clever nuanced words that make it clear, their good-will’s not to share.

How did so much recent suffering, revealing so many lives that lived and loved in such a colourful array, not move us forward?

I am so tired of coming out, a thousand times already with no end in sight; on form with pen, at bank with application new, on phones with confusion first, then overly effusive apologetic nurse, administrator, manager or worse.

Those addresses matter; the he/him, she/her, the they/them of lines blurred. I’m glad you don’t get it, that’s easier for you, that your life is not so many times denied or multiplied in explanations new, but please, stop for a moment and consider how it feels to be an ‘other’, a misrepresented disrespected brother or sister, as someone misidentified.

Four decades of tomorrows past that fearful breeze, with its numbers of diversity, the regular and most unlikely, the many broken hearts torn prematurely apart, who showed so clear the numbers from homes and families, and yes, even in your sacred pews as they sought guidance despite your whispered views.

Have any yet heard the voice of faith proclaiming clear, the virtue of those who live and love with nothing to repent? They preach their words beside each fence, for in their eyes; the eyes of those of greatest faith, the fluid, non-conforming crowd are still not innocent.

How did the legacy of a missing rainbow crowd, robbed of choice to hide, have us slide back towards the shame and guilt that makes it brave to show one’s pride?

Why is bravery still needed to wake and go to work, or bravery to be yourself, or just to claim your place of those who did survive?

Today’s fresh deadly plague, a novel kiss at setting sun, has stopped the world, but that other breeze still blows, now hardly ever named.  

Does anyone believe that lost fateful generation, numbering in their millions, was some mere aberration from the norm? That this ‘next’ generation or the one ahead again will any less confront convention and embrace the fluid storm?

Do you want your children safe?

Can you not recall that recent chilling page?

Where is the bravery to call a plague a plague?

Where is that last vaccine, or better yet, a cure, brought on at pace?

Where is the research for the chronic medical embrace?

The managed threat ignored and tamed, the silent, hiding voice of leaders meek, bowing to power, without the lack of will or bravery to speak, perchance to dream of those now managed as an endless income stream.

Some have survived, with pointed, heavy nod to every soul that went before and led; equality remains ahead, a distant clear horizon at the tail of one almighty fearful storm.


Friday, 28 August 2020

How I came to understand religion.

 

My mother sent me to Sunday school when I was four. She told me it would be fun and I would enjoy myself. She said there would be singing, storytelling and playing games.


It was not fun, and I did not enjoy myself.

The stories they told all had weak endings.

These were not stories for a little boy. I wanted bloodthirsty endings that left me thrilled and chilled. Jack and Jill shattered their skulls before careering down a hill. There was no miracle second act where they came back to life healed – they were dead.

The three blind mice weren’t shown sympathy for their disability; they didn’t have their sight restored by the farmer’s wife. Instead, she doubled down and cut off their tails with a carving knife.


Little Red Riding-hood’s grandmother was ripped apart by a wolf. Then a hunter took revenge and carved up the wolf. There was no counselling to understand the mistakes made. By the age of four, children know what to expect when a wolf arrives.


The only story that had any substance seemed to be Noah and his boat full of pets. Noah built his ark in his backyard. His neighbours teased him. Then the flood came, and Noah stood on his boat’s deck and watched all the people who had teased him drown.

“Who’s laughing now?” I imagined him saying.


The lesson was clear, if someone teases you, meticulously plan, then move to a safe place so you and your family can watch that person’s slow and panicked death in comfort.

After Noah had watched all the screaming and wailing from his floating gated community, he went sailing for forty days and forty nights. He sent out a dove that came back with nothing, and that was pretty much it until the dove came back with an olive branch.

The Sunday-school teacher made a big fuss over that branch. She said it was a sign from God to reward his true believers. I thought I must have misheard or she missed a page or something.

“Excuse me,” I said with my hand high. “God killed all Noah’s friends and neighbours, along with all the other animals in the world, and then sent him a twig?”

“As a sign of his love,” she said.

“Did it at least have an olive on it?”

“It was a sign of dry land.”

It turns out, unlike me, Noah was so impressed by that twig that it distracted him enough that he ran his boat aground. My four-year-old self was entirely unimpressed with this story.

The other stories they told us were about Jesus. I kept waiting for him to face danger and change into a superhero suit, but all he did was wander around in a toga with his friends. He did do magic tricks, but none of them were showstoppers. Feeding people bread and fish wouldn’t go over at a four-year-old’s birthday party. Jesus turned water into wine – hardly an age-appropriate story at that stage of my life. 


Walking on the water was cool, but Jesus didn’t seem to do anything with it. He just walked and never put the skill to good use. Then he died and came back to life – but the moment he came back, he left again. Jesus wasted a perfectly good opportunity to haunt people, I thought.


Then the Sunday-School teacher let us sing songs. I liked singing songs when I was four. We sang a lot of them at kindergarten. My favourite was Humpty Dumpty, who fell off a wall to be maimed for life. Good stuff. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again. That’s a story a four year-old-boy can understand.


The Sunday school songs were about Jesus loving me.

I wanted to sing Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty made me laugh because he fell down and broke his crown – how funny. At least the story of Humpty had a comical main character; a big fat round man who did crazy stuff like falling down and breaking apart, never to be put back together again. No resurrection for Humpty. Also, there were King’s horses and King’s men which were cooler than the bunch of hangers-on Jesus seemed to cruise around with.

The people in charge of my Sunday school refused to let me sing Humpty Dumpty.

There was only one thing for it, escape in protest. I took off and ran out of the hall where my Sunday school was being held. I climbed up a tree in the front garden of the small suburban church.

Climbing trees was also something I was very good at when I was four. I was so good they couldn’t get me down. They couldn’t even reach me because I was so small that the branch I was able to climb up into was so thin and fragile if they tried to climb to me the branch would have broken, and they’d risk me falling down and breaking my crown. I was also a very patient child. After an hour up the tree, they decided to call my mother, and she had to come to the church hall to coax me down. This was my first day at Sunday school.

My mother tried sending me to Sunday school one more time because she heard they were having a day to welcome new children. She assured me again there would be games and cake, and she was sure this time I would have fun. I did not have fun.

For some reason the Sunday school decided the way to impress young children and ensure they returned on a regular weekly basis to learn about Jesus was to have a clown.

This was a Church of England Sunday school with progressive leaders who played guitars and were always telling everyone to turn around and shake their neighbour’s hand. I’d been refusing to go back to Sunday school for sometime after the whole tree climbing protest over what songs should be sung, but now there was a clown and I loved clowns, they were funny.



At this point in my life I had been entertained by a number of clowns at my friend’s birthday parties, and they told great jokes, made balloon animals and did silly things like farting out powder through their pants. For a four-year-old, this is seminal comedy. Once we even went to see a circus in a big top and we sat there and smelled the animals and saw the five little clowns driving around in what looked like a Smart Car, but smaller. The doors to this car wouldn’t stay closed and the horn made you laugh because it was so weak, so, I guess, exactly like a smart car.


When I arrived for this Sunday school entertainment extravaganza I was disappointed. The clown was a mime. No one had told me this clown would not be talking. On TV and at my friends’ parties, the clowns talked and told jokes. The better party clowns made balloon animals. This Clown’s big-ticket item was playing the guitar while the Sunday school teacher sang more songs about Jesus loving us. I was having none of it. I was certain this clown could talk, and I set about proving this. I tried to trick him into talking.


“I really need the toilet,” I said. He mimed walking and pointed to the small door at the far end of the hall.

I tried goading him into talking.

“How do we know you’re a real clown because you don’t seem to know any of the routines, at least not the funny ones?”

I tried to guilt him into talking.

“It’s bad to pretend you have a disability when you don’t. My mummy told me that, like pretending you can’t talk.”

He pretended to pull himself away from me on an invisible piece of rope. I chased him and stamped on his toe, which took four attempts because, in his enormous clown shoes, it was hard to tell where his real foot was. When I honed in and found his big toe with my heal, he grabbed me by my ear and pulled me behind a bookshelf.

“You’re ruining this for everyone,” he said with genuine anger in his voice.

“You can talk!” I screamed.

They rang my mother to come and get me.

Years later, when I started primary school, they gave us afternoon milk as a way to keep us all healthy. Some of the kids couldn’t afford fresh milk at home, so this was a way to make sure the poorest kids had milk at least once a day. The milk came in tetra packs, stored in a wire basket in some unused hallway waiting for the recess bell when the little cardboard packs would be handed out to each child.


The moment that bell sounded, the milk monitors would take that wire basket and walk around to every class. Every student would be given a tetra pack of warm claggy milk. I hated this part of the day beyond everything else, even math. I have always hated warm milk because of this ritual to help the poor. To this day, warm milk makes me retch. 

They also had Christian education at my school. Every Christian child at the school was required to go to a weekly class of religious education. It was taught by a woman who, at the age of six, seemed to me, too old to be alive. She was so old her hair had turned mauve. She also talked about how much Jesus loved me.


“Why hasn’t he come and said hello, then,” I asked. My grandparents loved me, and even though they lived in Canada, they still came to see me once every two years, so where was this Jesus guy if he loves me so much?

“Jesus is always with you and watching over you,” she said.

“Like a ghost?” I asked, “Because he died, you know?”

She seemed pleased by my knowledge of Jesus dying, and she started in about how they tried to kill Jesus, but he kept coming back to life, completely ignoring how spooked we all were about being told a dead man would be watching us, always.

I went to my father and told him I couldn’t stand drinking milk. I also told him I couldn’t stand religious education. My father was a practical man.

“You can choose one of the two and I’ll write you a note to get you out of whichever one you choose,” he told me.

That’s how I came to choose Jesus over warm milk. It’s also how I came to understand that religion is more economic than spiritual. If you side with religion, you can bargain your way out of almost anything.




Thursday, 28 May 2020

The Cuckoo's Calling - A review



The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, AKA J.K. Rowling is a fine detective novel.

It twists and turns and throws up many false possibilities while hiding the real culprit in plain sight. For once, I didn’t get ahead of the story with a solution until it was being rolled out for the slower detectives like myself. While that’s a good thing, I did need the solution of how Cormoran Strike, the enigmatic Detective with five stars worth of personal baggage to unpack, solved the crime. Even then, I found some of the most pivotal clues and found evidence slightly convenient to hand.


This doesn’t address the elephant in the room – that Galbraith is J.K Rowling’s pen name for this detective series. On its own, The Cuckoo’s Calling is a high three out of five stars, and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for going that fourth star. The rating shouldn’t change because the writer under another name has written one of the most iconic series in literature and one of my favourites. I keep feeling the nom de plume is a very clever deceit by Rowling to avoid any comparison, every shock at the language and seedier sides of life that come into play within this tale.

I confess I read this because Galbraith was outed as J.K Rowling and not because I am a fan of the detective genre. My eye for what is well done and what contrivances should be expected, rejected or accepted are not as acute as a true detective fan, but I do know a little of world-building and Galbraith/Rowling brings this in spades. It is a real-world with real people who have emotional highs and lows and this includes Cormoran, who seems as flawed as any of us. I enjoyed the stories of its people and while I probably wouldn’t return for more of the same, Cormoran Strike seems to have a lot of potential for more.

How do you keep writing, and tell your good stories without people comparing every word and each twist of the plot to that of Harry Potter? Perhaps Cormoran Strike could set to work to solve that riddle?  


The book has also been made into a series by the BBC - one I plan to try and find.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

The Goldfinch - Book Review


☆☆☆☆1/2
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is an exquisite book, rich character dramas brought together with considerable storyteller's coincidence and misdirection that never seem obvious or enough to intrude and ruin the narrative. I would really love to have half stars and would then give a 4.5, with only half a star missing for the length.

This is a story that takes time and is better for the length - but I couldn't help asking myself, at what point does beautiful prose override the need to edit. Even here, I'm torn, as the descriptions from Thomas of imagined happenings that may never eventuate are intricate and well-developed, yet at what point do we want pages of ruminations on what might be, rather than cutting to what actually happens? Would those cuts have been tough to make because of the quality of the writing - no doubt, but they are there to be found.

I loved it. I found a new writer, for me, and will search out her other books and hope they are equally as enjoyable. As a Pulitzer winner, I think This is certainly worthy - I just wish those last, difficult cuts had been made to take away the very few moments when I was questioning why we had so much detail on twists and thoughts that added little.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

The Heart Of The Ritz - Book Review



The Heart of the Ritz is an energetic and complex novel with a thoroughly entertaining and captivating story that cloaks an exploration into human morals, personal sacrifice and courage.

I recently read the Paris Seamstress, and while I enjoyed the read, I was a little disappointed when the story moved from Paris under the threat of occupation; the Heart of the Ritz was my remedy.

Polly is a sixteen-year-old orphan, sent to live with her famous Aunt Marjorie, a singer, well known in Europe. When Marjorie dies suddenly, Polly’s guardianship falls to Marjorie’s three best friends, Alexandrine, Zita and Lana Mae. Alexandrine is a minor aristocrat, Zita is a film star and Lana Mae a wealthy heiress, and all three live hedonistic, socialite lives of privilege – their home, the famous Ritz Hotel in Paris.

They’re interesting characters, fun to know in a sort of “The Real Housewives of Paris, in the thirties” kind of way, but as they are, rich, indulgent and somewhat narcissistic, you wouldn’t want to spend too long in their presence. Cue the war as it came creeping to the outskirts of Paris with the fascinating rumours of the approaching German armies, the propaganda and lies of the French government as they keep the truth of the threat hidden until the last moment and then the shock and stunned adjustments needed by the citizens, as one of the world’s most prized cities falls in days and becomes an occupied prize of war.

The German’s take over with ruthless efficiency and Polly, and her three larger-than-life guardians must find a way to survive under the occupation. Each must face harsh truths about themselves, the lives they’ve led and what it will take to be able to live with their choices when witnessing unspeakable crimes. It’s a question we all ask and will hopefully never be called to answer, but who dares to risk their safety for an ideal when forced to choose?

The Heart of the Ritz tackles these issues alongside a good helping of romance without ever being sentimental or relying on easy choices. Some of the affairs with occupying German’s are heartbreaking, and the death of the young, innocent Jürgen rests well alongside other tragic literary deaths such as Pvt. Roth from Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead.

Luke Devenish has written an extraordinarily well researched fiction, based on history, that is so rich in detail and fact that it feels like a window back through time.

Expect to laugh and cry, while being enthralled as these remarkable women change and grow to be so much more than they began. This story will stay with me for a long time, as it dealt with many of life’s big-ticket items in a subtle, thoughtful manner that is so relevant because of the times in which we now live.

My rating: 5 sidecars from the Ritz @ $1500 per drink!