A gently resonant little book as pleasant as a walk in the park.

ALL IN GOOD TIME

In this tender, inviting short book written by a reading specialist, a loving grandmother has wise words for her young grandson when he wishes he were older.

On a walk in the park with his grandmother, an unnamed young boy sees older kids playing basketball and, wanting to join in, he says, “I wish I was big right now.” His grandmother asks him not to grow up too fast, “[b]ecause I would miss the little you.” When he’s not swayed, her response sparks a gentle exchange between the two as they continue their walk through the park. The grandmother points out baby ducklings in a pond, saying they need time to learn to swim and fly. She reminds her grandson of the things that his pet dog was like during his “good growing times” that turned a puppy into “a strong and loving dog.” A toddling little girl they meet with her dad needs time for her legs to grow stronger, something that “will happen as surely as summer follows spring.” The message is hardly unique to the genre, but Biery (Words Aren’t Fair, 2009) imparts this wisdom with warmth and the deft rhythm of simple but expressive vocabulary, giving the book (inspired by her own grandson) lift and life. The dog and boy race “like the wind, the boy laughing as the dog dove into a pile of leaves and chased a squirrel out the other side.” While a little girl pats the dog, “a smile bloomed on her face.” A mother duck “nudged the baby ducks,” and they “slipped into the pond, paddling the water with their feet.” The book’s watercolor and pencil illustrations, by professional artist Maxwell, add modest real-world charm, notwithstanding a few odd proportions and facial expressions. For adults, what comes through between the lines is a sense of wistfulness from both sides: The boy wants to grow up fast; his grandmother doesn’t want him to rush, even as she assures him it will happen “all in good time.”

A gently resonant little book as pleasant as a walk in the park.

Pub Date: April 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1434931511

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Rosedog Books

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE'LL BE LAUGHING

The bestselling author recalls her childhood and her family’s wartime experiences.

Readers of Winspear’s popular Maisie Dobbs mystery series appreciate the London investigator’s canny resourcefulness and underlying humanity as she solves her many cases. Yet Dobbs had to overcome plenty of hardships in her ascent from her working-class roots. Part of the appeal of Winspear’s Dobbs series are the descriptions of London and the English countryside, featuring vividly drawn particulars that feel like they were written with firsthand knowledge of that era. In her first book of nonfiction, the author sheds light on the inspiration for Dobbs and her stories as she reflects on her upbringing during the 1950s and ’60s. She focuses much attention on her parents’ lives and their struggles supporting a family, as they chose to live far removed from their London pasts. “My parents left the bombsites and memories of wartime London for an openness they found in the country and on the land,” writes Winspear. As she recounts, each of her parents often had to work multiple jobs, which inspired the author’s own initiative, a trait she would apply to the Dobbs character. Her parents recalled grueling wartime experiences as well as stories of the severe battlefield injuries that left her grandfather shell-shocked. “My mother’s history,” she writes, “became my history—probably because I was young when she began telling me….Looking back, her stories—of war, of abuse at the hands of the people to whom she and her sisters had been billeted when evacuated from London, of seeing the dead following a bombing—were probably too graphic for a child. But I liked listening to them.” Winspear also draws distinctive portraits of postwar England, altogether different from the U.S., where she has since settled, and her unsettling struggles within the rigid British class system.

An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64129-269-6

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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