When Billie Hatchman inherits a bed & breakfast from her estranged great aunt, she’s not prepared to be haunted by the well-intentioned ghost—or to be set up with her sexy but very much unavailable next-door neighbor.
A GHOST OF A CHANCE
Tenderhearted Billie Hatchman has known no day without backbreaking hard work since she found out she was pregnant twelve years ago. Now she’s inherited a bed-and-breakfast from her great aunt, a woman she never met. It looks like her problems are solved. Except, Billie’s not prepared for the immense loneliness that comes with such a life. There’s enough to keep her distracted day to day, but thoughts of Sam Willis, her sexy chef neighbor, aren’t quite enough to fill her nights.
Sam is the perfect man: good to her children, a supportive friend, and he stirs up feelings Billie long ago forsook. Yet Sam is taken, and his girlfriend is beautiful and socially connected—and rich. Could he truly believe a single mother of two would be a better partner and lover? That’s what the kindhearted, spitfire of a ghost in Billie’s bedroom believes. And Great Aunt Emily thinks this love is worth any risk.
From Chapter 1.
Billie’s appointment was for 9:15 a.m. However, it took half an hour to drive from Balnarring to the lawyer’s office and at the last minute twelve-year-old Aria threw a wobbly about her skirt being too long. Not that Billie agreed, but rather than prolong the usual mother-daughter argument, at the last minute she was tacking hems when she should have been halfway to Frankston.
The only empty space was in a thirty-minute zone. This late, she parked the Honda knowing she was sure to get booked. Then she didn’t have enough coins to fill the meter and the Two Dollar shop across the road made an issue of changing a five-dollar bill. By the time Billie found the right building, she was covered in perspiration.
She found Roger Livingston’s office in a gleaming glass-and-concrete building mostly occupied by doctors, accountants and lawyers. Inside, a mirror in the foyer showed a slim woman of average height with wavy shoulder-length dark brown hair, brown eyes, olive skin, and a squarish chin that suggested both strength and resolution; a woman in her early thirties whose attractive appearance was slightly marred by a permanent worry line on the bridge of her nose.
Billie paused to check her makeup, smooth her eyeshadow, and adjust her skirt, which felt that bit too snug. If only she’d had time to study her reflection in more detail, she might have wished her cheekbones higher, her nose straighter, her lips thicker, and her outfit a lot newer.
Instead she ran her eye down several names ‘before finding the lawyer’s on the sixth floor.
The lift silently rose and opened into a spacious suite. One entire wall was see-through glass. Billie paused to admire the vista of yellow sand, green sea, and blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds.
A girl, not much older than Billie’s teenage babysitter Carol, but dressed in a formfitting navy dress that must have cost a week’s wages, viewed Billie with suspicion.
Nevertheless, her name and appointment confirmed, she was immediately directed into the lawyer’s office.
A tall thin man in his late fifties in a charcoal suit and a striped tie hinting at some organization or club Billie didn’t recognize came from behind a table to ask, “Wilhemina Adrienne Hatchman?”
He shook her hand before saying, “I’m Roger Livingston. Before we start can you please show me some identification?”
She reached into her purse and took out her driving licence.
The lawyer glanced at it, cleared his throat, and pointed her to a chair “So Wilhemina—”
“Everyone calls me Billie,” she said quickly.
“Billie?” His eyebrows shot up.
“I changed it when I was little. My parents went on a trip to Europe. When they counted back, they figured I was conceived in Holland…”
She stopped, realizing she was saying too much.
“Ah.” His face cleared. “Wilhemina, now shortened to Billie.” A slight smile hovered around thin lips. “And you have no siblings?”
She shook her head. “None that I’m aware of.”
“No one to query any inheritance?”
“No one,” she repeated…
“Emily’s Ghost is a story of food, love and secret passion. I enjoyed this book immensely. The food images, the romantic story floating in and out, and the reinvention of Billie that kept me reading until the end. Utterly fabulous!”
Reviewed by A.G
INTO THE MIST
Fleeing a humiliating end to a passionless marriage, Lisa Harbinger seeks refuge in a posh summer retreat on Australia’s lush South Coast. There she finds work as a nanny for two wilful children on one prestigious estate. But behind Rangoon’s ivy and red brick walls lies a mystery: What really happened to the family’s beloved Penelope?
Even more mysterious is Richard Prescott. Cold and aloof by day, Lisa’s boss heats up her nights and awakens her soul. But to have a future they both must escape their pasts. Vengeful ghosts and a generations-old curse seek to bring ruin on Richard and his family. But if Lisa can find the answers, she—and her growing love—could be the one to set him free.
Reviews: Pretty Little Pages blog
If I had to describe the romance in this book with just one word, I’d use sweet. The entire story itself is very good, and I found it to be an enjoyable read. Goldie Alexander is an established writer, and Penelope’s Ghost is a testament to that. It was good for a light but mysterious break from some of my normal reading. The characters were the part that I enjoyed the most. A lot of attention was given to details. This gave all of the characters a unique and authentic voice. But I feel like the title was misleading a bit. Because of it, I expected Penelope’s Ghost to focus more on the ghost story. Yet, I still enjoyed reading this. Parts of the story did seem rushed in an effort to get through necessary parts of the plot. It wasn’t too distracting, but I did notice it. The love story as I said is sweet. If you’re looking for passion and tearing of clothes, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re like me and don’t mind your romance served sweet with a heap of mystery, you’ll definitely enjoy what Penelope’s Ghost by Goldie Alexander has to offer.
See more at: http://prettylittlepages.blogspot.com.au/#sthash.sRBa7wwF.dpuf
This story is delightful…and mysterious…and a wonderful Australian vacation in book form. I learned so many Aussy-isms! When Lisa loses her husband to another man, she is forced to regroup, reassess, and rebuild her life. Money is short and good jobs seem to be non-existent, so she takes a temporary job as a live-in nanny. She finds herself in the middle of a sad and dysfunctional family, and, being sensitive to ghosts, she can’t help but wonder who is haunting handsome Mr. Prescott’s ancient manor home. Well, wouldn’t you wonder, too? Lives are changed, both past and present, and in the end, the changes are all good, very good.
From Courtesan Press Blog
Penelope’s Ghost is a deviously delightful romance from down under. It was exciting to read about such a unique and unusual locale. Many of us Americans will never have the chance to visit the Land of Oz, but author Goldie Alexander bring the outback to the reader. The novel tells the story of Lisa Harbinger, newly divorced and desperate for work as she gets back on her feet after her husband leaves her for another man. To that end, she reluctantly takes a position as nanny to two unruly children at an old, posh, historical house on the South Coast. There she meets the strange (and strangely haunted) Prescott clan, headed by Richard Prescott, a cold, aloof, but utterly delicious (and very available!) man who is himself newly divorced. Very soon some serious sparks fly between Lisa and Richard, but when old family secrets come to life, as well as a vengeful ghost, the couple find themselves battling forces beyond their human understanding. A must read!
REVIEW from Books, Food& YOU blog
It took me awhile to understand this book, but I finally managed to. Although it was not one of the best books that I’ve read, i greatly enjoyed reading this book. The characters were explained in great detail, not leaving out any details for one’s imagination. And Richard, that guy is just chaaaarming as hell. HEHE. Yes, throughout the book I had a crush on him. And the fact that this story is about ghosts, is actually quite unique in itself. This book seemed to be a supernatural book, but at the same time, it is also realistic enough.
After Lisa’s marriage disintegrated she finds herself in need of a complete change. She accepts a position as a nanny for two children. Once she ensconced in her job, Lisa begins to learn more about the family she works for. Her employer once had a sister that tragically drowned at a young age, named Penelope.
Richard , the children’s uncle and a resident at Rangoon, is divorced and it is also a fresh wound for him. He and Lisa get off to a sort of bumpy start when Lisa finds him to be arrogant and rude. But, after a short time, Richard begins to loosen up just a little.
The children are spoiled and willful, but Lisa finds she has a way with children and doesn’t allow them to push her around. However, Lisa is big predisposed to catching glimpses of the dead and Penelope is has decided to make her presence known to Lisa. Lisa believes without a doubt that Penelope is entreating her to solve the mystery of her death. This might be a difficult task because Lisa was warned to avoid the subject at all cost.
Only five weeks into her new job and Lisa is making some headway with her charges. She has also managed to become immersed in the family drama and has begun an affair with Richard whose ex-wife is still coming around, leaving Lisa unsure as where she stands. Lisa also begins to learn about Rangoon and the family’s sordid history.
But, what of her ghost? Well, at one point Lisa begins to wonder if the stress of divorce and a complete new life has caused her imagination to spiral out of control.
Deep down she knows that’s not the case and soon Lisa will understand why Penelope needs her story told.
This paranormal mystery/romance got off to a slow start for me. I got that Lisa was going through a divorce and the reasons for it. I thought a little too much time was spent on this area. I would rather have sped past that part and dived into Lisa’s job and the situation with the ghost. Once we got started on this part of the book, things were much more interesting. I didn’t feel the chemistry with Richard all that much and it isn’t until the mystery is solved that Richard and Lisa are able to address their issues. This part moves too fast. LOL! But, the mystery and ghost story which was at the heart of the novel was very good. Finally, the truth comes out about Penelope’s death and hopefully she will now rest in peace.
I loved the history that is interwoven with the present day events which gave the story a Gothic mystery atmosphere at times. Over all this is a solid effort and despite a few pacing issues was an interesting and engaging read. This one gets a 3.5 rounded to 4.
Musings in Fiction alley
4 fangs out of 5
This book is about a woman named Lisa Harbinger. She is recently separated from her husband and looking for a job doing something different. She wanted to get away and do something new. She found her self applying to be a Nanny for 2 children while they are on holiday visiting with family. She has never really been a Nanny before, but children seem to like her. She is offered the job and accepts it. Lisa worked as a rental agent previously. Part of the reason she wanted to leave to job was she sees ghosts, usually ones where their deaths were unsolved and violent. When she arrived at Rangoon where she was to Nanny to she got the same shiver she does whenever she is someplace where a ghost haunts. The children she is to Nanny are named Willow and Mitchell. The man she interviewed with and who hired her was named Richard. Lisa learns from Shirley another employee that Richard’s little sister Penelope drowned in the dam when she was young. He also takes care of Rangoon. The children were a bit difficult at first. After those first few days with more structure and adult attention the children were much better behaved. Lisa also has a small crush on Richard, at first she just thinks it is because she is lonely. Lisa saw the ghost of Penelope on night on the dam. This has her curious, she begins asking questions subtlety about how Penelope and how she died. How old she was and such when she died. On another night she saw Penelope again and also some other people, a tribe maybe. She starts asking other employees about the land and its history. Richard comes to Lisa in the cottage one night and they share a night of passion. Will Lisa be able to help Penelope and the other ghosts she saw? Will she and Richard start to see each other or was it a one time thing? Will the children continue to improve in their behaviour?
I enjoyed this book a bunch. I liked the mystery of the ghosts and how she would figure out how to help them. I liked how she helped the children. It was sad how little attention their parents paid to them. Everyone was very hush hush at first about anything to do with the property and Penelope’s death. After she was there for a bit people were more willing to talk. Others that didn’t work on Rangoon where more willing to talk. I like the romance between Lisa and Richard. I didn’t expect it when I first reading the book, but it was a nice surprise. The book was well written and the characters were engaging.
By LJ Reviews on May 22, 2014
Lisa Harbinger is ready for a change. Her passionate marriage is over, her real estate job costs more than it brings in, and her landlord is ready to give her the boot. When she’s offered a summer job as a nanny for a prestigious family on Australia’s lush South Coast, it seems like just the change she needs. But with vengeful ghosts, an ancient curse, and two incredibly spoiled children, the gig becomes more than she bargained for when she accepted. It doesn’t help that the strong attraction to her boss becomes something more. Penelope’s Ghost flits between the 19th and 21st centuries to tell the story of family loss and redemption all because an unlikely nanny comes to stay the summer.
Verdict: In this paranormal romantic suspense novel, Alexander (Surving Sydney Cove) evokes Australia’s colonial past to set the scene for a reawakening of passion between two people who are still recovering from bad relationships. Readers who like their romance slightly historical and a little paranormal will fall into Alexander’s Australia.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll. Lib., Boston
Dewey Number: A823.4
End of school is a crucial time for life -making decisions.Eighteen year old best friends Dessi Cowan, Lilbet’s grandniece, and her best friend Emma Simpson have planned a celebratory trip to the Gold Coast. Emma is an artist, Dessi a poet; their mothers long term ‘best friends’. In the past the girls have always been there for each other and this relationship is central to their lives. However, when Emma meets charming Adbul Malouf and Dessi is forced to stay in Melbourne to recover from a car accident, Emma asks her friend to look after Abdul while she is away.
On the Gold Coast Emma meets up with her father and participates in some of the Schoolies activities. Her closest male friend Sasha, convinced he might be ‘gay’, takes her to a ‘gay’ club and then realises he is really ‘straight’.
In Melbourne Dessi is totally infatuated with Abdul who takes her home twice. Though his parents are openly appalled at his taking up with a non-Moslem girl, for Dessi his ‘stop-start’ behaviour only makes him more desirable.
When Emma’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, Emma cuts short her holiday only to be confronted by Dessi’s duplicity. As the story progresses both girls must spend a lot of time coming to terms with these events.
The title of Goldie Alexander’s new YA release could lead readers to expect a straight romance. Yet while Dessi’s first real experience of love is central to the theme of this novel, deeper issues of loyalty, trust and betrayal are integral to the plot. Cultural differences are also a key element.
Dessi and Emma are best friends like their mothers before them and can’t imagine anything or anyone ever coming between them. They’ve just graduated from high school and are looking forward to Schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast with a group of mates while waiting to find out if they’ve been accepted into their chosen university courses. When Dessi is injured in a traffic accident and must stay home to recuperate, Emma asks her new boyfriend and her best friend to look after each other while she’s away. What Emma couldn’t have foreseen was the instant attraction between Dessi and the older, darkly exotic Middle Eastern Abdul. Dessi’s romance threatens to destroy a friendship that promised to last a lifetime. To complicate matters, Abdul’s family is far from welcoming of his Australian girlfriend.
Alexander is an accomplished writer with an impressive list of publications to her name. It’s clear she understands the expectations of her YA audience and in Dessi’s Romance delivers it in style. Alternate chapters are written from Dessi and Emma’s viewpoints and effortlessly tap into their thinking. Alexander’s readers will have no difficulty empathising with Dessi’s dilemma – should she follow her heart or put friendship first?
Review by Teena Raffa-Mulligan
When best friends Dessi and Emma finish year 12 they have bold dreams of celebrating at Schoolies
Week together and sharing an unforgettable summer. But when a car accident lands Dessi with a broken ankle she is forced to stay behind in Melbourne while Emma goes to Surfers Paradise, and summer becomes unforgettable in ways they would never have dreamed possible.
What happens when Dessi falls in love with her best friend’s guy? Abdul is so exotic and charming, she finds him utterly irresistible. Should she follow her heart or ignore her burning feelings for him? To complicate matters further, Abdul’s family are less than impressed when he brings her home to meet them. How far should she take this new relationship? Or does she risk losing everything?
Meanwhile, in Surfers Paradise, Emma is grappling with her thoughts about meeting her Dad again and his new wife. And why is her good friend Sasha acting differently? Something important has changed about him. When her Mum is diagnosed with a serious illness Emma returns home and is faced with Dessi’s duplicity.
This novel delivers eloquently on many of the topical issues affecting young adults today. Themes of love and friendship, betrayal and deception, religion and acceptance, sexuality and identity interweave to create a compelling narrative. As Dessi and Emma come of age, they learn not only about themselves, but the wider world around them.
Review by Nina Lim
‘Dessi’s Romance’ is a compelling read, rich with humour and the ups and downs of teenage hood. The trials and tribulations that each character experiences is not only relatable but forms a gripping read.
Review by Mahli Benjamin-Robbins
Some important themes these novels share:
- Both are about relationships between close females that are 18 years of age.
- Both are concerned with the disruption an outsider brings to these women.
- Both emphasise rejection of different religions. ‘In Libet’s Romance’ it is being Jewish. In ‘Dessi’s Romance’ it is being a Moslem.
- Racism raises its ugly head in both books.
- Both novels are concerned with emerging sexuality. In ‘Lilbet’s Romance’ it is sexual ignorance and the inability of the disabled to live a full sexual life. ‘Dessi’s Romance’ also queries preserving virginity until the ‘right man comes along’, inappropriate passions, and Sasha affirming his true heterosexuality.
This novel is available in both hardcopy and digital.
‘LiIbet’s Romance” is the digital version of ‘Body and Soul: Lilbet’s Romance’ and the precursor of ‘Dessi’s Romance
‘Body and Soul: Lilbet’s Romance’ is also available digitally as ‘Lilbet’s Romance’ and is the precursor to ‘Dessi’s Romance’
Set in the summer and autumn of 1938, “Body and Soul: Lilbet’s Romance” is eighteen-year-old crippled Lilbet Mark’s account of the love affair between Felix Goldfarb, a recent migrant to Melbourne, and Lilbet’s twin-sister Ella. Lilbet’s father Simon Marks, her eldest sister Julie, and all their friends are entranced by Felix Goldfarb. Never before have they come across such a winning blend of worldly sophistication and boyish charm. Only clever Lilbet suspects Felix might not be all that he seems. Also, it is imperative for her physical and psychological wellbeing that Ella remains in Adeline Terrace.
As Lilbet records the day to day events that occur in Adeline Terrace South Melbourne, she explores Australia heading towards World War 2, the intolerance once shown towards the disabled, the ambivalence she feels towards her family, and the double edged sword of love and envy.
But is Lilbet as badly done by, as she would have us believe?
Among the press clippings, the unconfirmed reports coming out of Hitler’s Germany of anti-Jewish violence, and the increasing belligerence of Germany towards her neighbours add to the growing tension for this Jewish family in Melbourne of the 1930’s.
Review: Viewpoint 2003
Adeline Terrace in Melbourne during 1938 is brought to vivid life in “Body and Soul Lilbet’s Romance”. The Marks young women, Julie, Ella and Lilbet’s lives pivot around domestic tasks in a motherless household with their dour father. But their existence is not drudgery, and the domestic is celebrated in the fascinating book. Julie is a marvellous cook, and the aromas of her meals rise off the page.
Into their lives comes the charming Alex Goldfarb, refugee from Hitler’s Germany and teller of mesmerising tales. He beguiles the extended household, but with prescience, bookish Lilbet remain sceptical.
The ambivalence Lilbet feels toward her family, her own mixed feelings toward Felix and the double-edged sword of love and envy challenge Lilbet as she struggles to mature despite her disability and the oppressive care of her older sister, Julie.
Interspersed throughout her story are Lilbet’s newspaper cuttings which provide the historical and social context, from the Spanish Civil War and the threat of much wider war, to McFarlane Burnet and the influenza virus, to Polio treatment, local theatre, holiday recipes, and much, much more in the richly detailed, evocative novel. –
Reviewer: Pam Macintyre.
Available on all ebook sites Amazon
From Unjust Desserts:
“The chicken curry was on the top shelf. Queenie eyed it with pleasure. Food was one of her solaces. Food and her garden. Her old-fashioned ‘rosa rugosa albas’ and the Chaucer and Chianti varieties plus her cottage garden delphiniums, lupins, foxgloves, pansies, primulas, were so famous the Findrose Rose Society regarded her as their most distinguished member. Without bothering to reheat the curry she scooped it up with her fingers. Delicious, if heavy on the chilli. She poured the sauce into her mouth. Definitely too much chilli. When the carton was licked clean she carefully scrubbed it, then took it into the potting shed and slid it under a pile of similar containers. The cramps and vomiting didn’t begin until fifteen minutes later.” Grevillia may seem an idyllic village on the south coast of Australia. But when Detective Richard Brumby is brought in to solve three murders, he discovers that no place is safe from secret and intrigue.
Book 1. UnJust Desserts.
Not Just Desserts, the deli and catering firm owned by Olivia Beauman, is under threat. Though many people hate Harry Oldritch, it is his long suffering wife Queenie, and his mistress Bettina who die after old fashioned pesticide is placed into meals Olivia has prepared. To any outsider Grevillea might seem a typical sleepy coastal village. But when DI Richard Brumby is brought in to help solve these crimes, he discovers that no place, no matter how idyllic, is safe from secrets and intrigue.
Book 2. UnKind Cut
As a long dry summer comes to an end, the Grevilleans are trying to raise money for their fire-station by staging a production of JuliusCaesar. Kingston Ellis, that celebrated Shakespearean actor, has offered to play the title role. Opening night is on the 15th March. However when Kingston is stabbed for real in the assassination scene, Olivia Beauman of Not Just Desserts, Eddie her partner and the play’s director, plus close friends Carmela and Janette, are inevitably drawn into helping DI Richard Brumby solve this crime.
Book 3. UnFair CoverUps
A body has been fed through a Shire shredding machine. Another is found in the local tip. DI Richard Brumby and his new 21C, Ivan Kaminsky, set about finding the bodies’ identity. Inevitable, Olivia Beauman of Not Just Desserts, Eddie her partner and local school principal, and close friends Carmela and Janette, become drawn into helping DI Richard Brumby solve this crime as, at the same time, Richard tries to salvage his marriage.
Possible talking points:
This murder mystery trilogy favours a ‘gently, gently’ approach of how swiftly life can barrel out of control. Olivia Beauman is faced with the challenge of running her deli-catering foodstore Not Just Desserts with little business experience. To complicate matters, not only A multitude of characters, many of whom have settled in ‘Grevillea’ – the pseudonym for an amalgamation of villages on the Westernport side of the Mornington Peninsula – are seeking a ‘sea change’. The major issue in this sensitive area is development. How much should be permitted? What should be stopped? There are always the divergent interests of locals who wish to keep their environment pristine and developers eyeing off a possible cash cow. Can you see any resolution to this conflict?
General Comments about Mysteries
The popularity of the murder/mystery genre lies in its well constructed plot. As a general rule, murder mysteries must have an obvious opening, a decent development, lots of ‘red herrings’ and a satisfactory resolution. No matter whom the characters are or where the crime takes place, this shape is fundamental to the genre. It is this basic structure that allows so many themes to be explored, themes that in this novel focus on contemporary issues. This trilogy also explores the plight of many single women, sometimes single parents, and many older women, who through no fault of their own find it hard to make ends meet. Though their lives are often very hard, often resourceful they use their domestic skills such as cooking, caring and gardening to make a living. Another issue is Richard Brumby’s broken marriage and his attempts to keep things together, not always successfully. Because readers are often curious about any food that appears in a story, Olivia’s recipes are included.
Our history is plentiful in stories, but many can be lost if they are not captured in words or images. The more we write and collate, the more our rich cultural and multi-cultural heritage has a chance to survive. But for this to happen, the keeping of personal records is integral.
Many of our older citizens are asked, ‘When you going to write your memoir?’ However, for many the prospect appears too daunting. They have interesting stories to relate, but have never tackled a book length project before. Though they may spend a lot of time telling their stories, collating bits of the past, and even researching the net, when it comes to ‘putting it all together’ they are not sure how or where to begin, much less how to continue.
My personal journey began when a grandson’s questions proved how little he knew about his forbears and even my own history. Given that I am now in my seventh decade, it was time to get it all down. Few will argue that a memoir relies on memory. But memory is a capricious thing that rarely belongs to reason and logic, instead returning to us as a series of dreams and images that may be misleading. For some it can be the very spark of life, others can rarely begin a sentence without a ‘Can you remember when…?’ and ‘When we were young…’
But this is not my experience. Rather I have always tended to live in the present or in my imagination, so when I began my memoir I wondered how much I would recall. But as I kept on writing the incidents returned as if they’d happened only last week… the enjoyment, the pain and above all, the learning about what life has to offer. Yet even those memories have been corrupted by the process of looking back through eyes altered by immense social and technological upheavals. If we were to visit forties and fifties Australia, it would be like entering a foreign country, we would seem to have so little in common.
I am not vain enough to think that my life warrants placing in print or that in any curious way I stand out from the crowd. So my reasons for adding my own life story to this text is that there are three standard questions thrown at writers. Children, who are always more direct than adults, will ask: ‘How old are you?’ To which my jokey response is, ‘Too old.’ The second is, ‘How much money do you make from your books?’ to which my answer is: ‘Never enough.’ The third question that comes from anyone interested in the writing process regardless of age or gender: ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ and this is usually followed up by ‘How do I write my own life story?’
So Mentoring Your Memoir is my attempt to answer those last two questions as clearly as I know how. It’s when I go back into my writing that I begin to realise how much of my early history is in there, and how much it influenced what I later wrote. This is not unusual. Unless writers forage into history or write biography, all use their own experience as material. So it’s not what the narrative is about that’s significant, rather how it is transformed and crafted into something worth reading.
Because I write both fiction and non fiction for adults and children of all ages, plus teach, mentor and take workshops in Creative Writing, this text seemed an excellent opportunity to combine all my skills. Thus this guide also offers a practical and stimulating approach that leads the writer through the creative process from research, structure, crafting, plotting, beginning and endings, to controversial issues and publishing, offering practical hints for both experienced and novice writers, Hopefully, Mentoring Your Memoir will act as a stimulus for those that have still to record a life story.
Review by Alan Wheatley: Emeritus editor of Bonzer Magazine
Goldie is a widely-published author of fiction and non-fiction books, articles and short stories for adults and children.
In Mentoring Your Memoir Goldie successfully blends her own memoirs with, as she says, “practical hints for both experienced and novice writers”. I found her own story absorbing, which says a great deal about Goldie’s skills as a writer, while the many useful tips for writers are set out clearly and with insight. In fact, it takes a brave author to put her own writing up for judgment as well as an exemplar to illustrate the tuition.
Her early life story is set in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and London and the reader is treated to Goldie’s observations about the social mores of each place as they were from 1936 to 1967, and by extension, the ups and downs of her own life. She doesn’t pull any punches and I consider her memoirs so interestingly written that they deserve a book of their own.
But the main focus of Mentoring Your Memoir is on the many practical hints Goldie offers that will show us, she says, “how to document our own life histories … (and) that will lead you through the creative process from research, structure, crafting, to beginnings, endings, controversial issues and publishing”.
A challenging list, and one well-tackled by Goldie.
Book Review – Shauna Hicks 2011.
It’s funny how our paths cross with various people in our lives. My own current focus on tidying up my draft family histories for publication, and my recent contact with Hazel Edwards author of How to Write a Non Boring Family History (see my review of this book at www.shaunahicks.com.au/resources ) led me to meet Goldie and to learn about her book Mentoring Your Memoir and her classes on the same topic. I can only hope that I have that much energy and enthusiasm when I get to Goldie’s age.
That energy and enthusiasm also comes through in her book Mentoring Your Memoir and I can imagine all the people who attend a class going home inspired and ready to start their own memoirs. The layout of the book is essentially chronological with an Introduction looking at overcoming procrastination. There are some practical tips and advice and I really should ‘just do it’! But for now I really should get on with this review.
There are four parts with Part 1 addressing childhood years 1936-1943 and as Goldie uses her own life experiences as examples, this has dictated her timeframes. It is easy for the reader to insert their own timeframe and places. Also in Part 1, she talks about setting yourself up and research – all practical advice for people who have probably never written or researched before.
Part 2 deals with Adolescence 1944-1954 and also covers increasing your readership, problems, openings, controversy, creating characters, and fiction, non-fiction and faction. Although Goldie is writing about autobiographical writing, a lot of what she talks about is also relevant to anyone writing a family history.
Part 3 is titled Young Woman, Young Wife 1955-1958 and here she goes into detail about plotting, structure and shaping your story. I think the best way to get the most out of her book is to read it through from cover to cover and then go back and look at the various parts as you need to.
Part 4 is Young Wife, Young Mother 1959-1967 and in this part Goldie looks at using dialogue, point of view, titles, second drafts or more and endings. She concludes by discussing whether to publish or not and acknowledgements are at the end.
An interesting sideline for me was that Goldie is two years younger than my mother, and I was thinking about my own mother’s life as I read all about Goldie’s life in the various examples she gave to demonstrate the points she was making in each part. In fact I got more hooked on reading Goldie’s story and found myself skipping over the sections where she used examples from her other books.
Goldie’s own story is not that unusual for a woman born in Melbourne just before World War 2. Her parents were Polish immigrants to Australia after World War 1 and this adds a cultural diversity to her story.
I suspect most of us might think our own lives are too boring or non eventful to write about but wouldn’t it be a great gift for future grandchildren or great grandchildren. I was only young when one of my grandmother’s died and I would love to have known about how she grew up in Charters Towers and met my grandfather and so on. As a family historian, I am now trying to recreate their lives so that I can get to know them more – how much better would I know them if they had written out their own memoirs!
Of course, this also means that I should really think about writing my own memoirs (as well as publishing those draft family histories) and I wonder if somewhere back in time, I unconsciously made a decision to document my own life. Since 1982 I have kept scrapbooks of all my ‘appearances’ in newspapers, conferences, speaking engagements, and other life highlights and there are currently 13 scrapbooks. Having this kind of reference material will assist me in recalling my life, but if you don’t have diaries or scrapbooks, Goldie’s Mentoring Your Memoir will help you recall those memories and help you get started in writing them down. Good luck! www.shaunahicks.com.au