“Well, I hope you never write another book.”
Distancing myself momentarily from our conversation, I twisted, tweaked and reassessed the words, touched by his compassion.
We had had no contact since our university days but, thanks to the vagaries of random social-media connections, we were talking again. And, how exciting it was to feel the power and anticipation of our as-yet-undiscovered futures.
Of course, we exchanged in the usual polite, but curious, way of adults. Where living? Married? Children? Work? Where are you on the life-satisfaction scale?
Woah, how did we venture so quickly down that path? And, how to answer when, despite my cherished and gratifying choices, I’d rather be young and free?
Traveling, teaching, family, restlessness, adventure, writing … it all came out.
“I have just published my third book.” It wasn’t bragging nor was it an attempt to impress. I was still in the emotional aftermath of putting my figurative pen down and in awe that my words had come for a third time. “Interestingly, all my books have come about because of sadness and struggle,” I continued. Woah, again. How had I not realised that before?
I know that if our situations had been reversed, my reply would not have been so quick and probably not as thoughtful.
I don’t know whether I am an oddity in the author world, but I have not re-read or opened “With bare feet and sandy toes,” since I pressed ‘publish’ several months ago. It certainly has not resonated as widely with my readers. After all, it is not set in France. But, today, I noticed another review (below). Despite all the feedback that my books have generated, I am still bewildered that people, actual people, people who do not know me, are interested enough to pick up something that I have written and then take the time to share their thoughts afterwards. But I like it.
Catherine tells us about her childhood, growing up in an Adelaide suburb in a strict yet eccentric family and attending a Catholic school. While it's not a particularly exceptional childhood, I liked the way that she wrote about it. The style is quite literary and thoughtful without being overly nostalgic. I'm not sure there was anything that significantly made it a 60s / 70s memoir, because she didn't have a television or know about pop music, due to an upbringing that was both conservative and not wealthy. If it had been set a decade or two earlier, I wouldn't be surprised. The same principle applies to the location, because although there are some elements which are uniquely Australian, the book doesn't dwell on Australia and so again, with a few tweaks to the text, it could be set in Britain or the US. This isn't a disadvantage and actually it helps to make the memoir more relatable. I wasn't so interested in the sports element of the book, but other readers might be.
I liked how the epilogue told us a little about her current life and the events which made her decide to write the memoir. The book overall is charming and heartfelt.
And now, for the sake of completeness, here is another recent review of my first memoir, “But you are in France, Madame.” I don’t mean to offend but, fuck, it made me laugh.
Reviewed in the United States on February 8, 2023
I was disappointed in this book. the writing is mediocre; as if you are reading someone's journal entries. early in the book, the author relates a song, with a 4 letter [foul language] word in it, why is that even in the book?
Links below to my books. They should take you to where you need to go, wherever you are in the world, to make a purchase.
- But you are in France, Madame: One family, three children, five bags and the promise of adventure living in the French Alps
- Weaving a French Life: An Australian story
- With bare feet and sandy toes: Growing up in Australia in the 1960s & 70s