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Tag Archives: Memoir

Nurse, Come You Here! by Mary J. MacLeod

Nurse, Come You Here! by Mary J. MacLeod

I found this book in the Kindle store on sale a few months ago. I hadn’t really read anything from Scotland, but I really like books based in Ireland so I thought I’d give it a shot. Also, I thought the idea of reading the memories of a country nurse would be interesting as I live in the country.

I was not disappointed by the book. It was in turns hilarious, heartbreakingly sad, full of life, and honoring death. The characters were very real, the landscape and weather had a life and spirit of their own. You actually could picture yourself in the places she describes with the people she talks about. This is one of the rare books that actually made me weep. It is a powerful book that teaches you all about life on an older Scottish isle.

The core of the book takes place on Papavray Island off the Scottish coast in the late 70s. It is actually the second book by MacLeod. The first book covers Mary, her husband, and their two sons moving to the island and Mary taking up the job as the county nurse for the island. In this book, she is settled into her position and you hear the love she has for her patients through the stories she tells of her visits and exploits with them. Her love for the people and animals shines through the whole book. Her different struggles and entertainments she takes in stride and you get a true feel for her personality. Cows in the kitchen, missing children, the local vegetable cart, and broken down cars are only a couple things described and talked about in living, breathing color.

Her writing is elegant and full of rarely used words (in my opinion) and several Scottish terms. I loved reading it because of her writing and the vocabulary she used. You could also hear the Scottish brogue as she wrote by the why she phrased and spelled different words. I think it would be a fabulous book to listen to if you could get a Scottish voice actor.

The only part I was disappointed by (SPOILER ALERT!) was when the family moved to the states at the very end of the book for her husband’s job. However, you still find her love for her family in those pages as well. As it is a memoir, of course there is not a settled ending as I would have made it.

I would recommend this book for anyone who likes reading about Scotland or Ireland. Also, anyone who enjoys a good memoir or even lovers of fiction. It is not a fictional story, but it keeps you entertained just as a fictional book would. It is an enjoyable read that gives you a new outlook on life and a greater appreciation for nurses.

My rating:

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Seriously Mum, Where’s that Donkey? by Alan Parks

Seriously Mum, Where’s that Donkey? by Alan Parks

 

I don’t know why, but I did not like this book as much as the first book of his. Mostly, it was a telling of the events of the next few years of the Parks living in Spain and raising their alpacas. You actually don’t hear a whole lot about the alpacas, they are only the focus of about two or three chapters in the book. However, life is not dull at the Olive Mill. Spanish bingo, camera crews, travelers, stray dogs, and numerous animals fill the pages here. The tightness of their finances is a prevalent theme throughout, describing their various endeavors to earn more money. Lorna goes back to teaching dance, they rent out rooms to travelers, and think of different ways to save money.

You do meet a lot of new characters. I liked learning about the different people because you got to see a variety of cultural differences and personality types. Meeting neighbors, a new alpaca breeder, and various random encounters lead to new friendships and events. They try out Spanish lessons (they don’t go well) and learn where to take the stray dogs that turn up all the time. Lorna gains a following of local women as the local Zumba instructor. They join with other alpaca breeders to show animals in the local farm shows. They attend more of the local festivals than they have done in previous years and provide descriptions.

I’m not entirely sure why, but this book just had more of a serious feel to it. The events and things that took place didn’t get the humorous light they did in the first book. Also, there were more sad events and hard times than in the first book. His writing style was the same and I liked the candid way he describes everything, however, I don’t think I will be reading this book again though.

My rating:

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Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca? by Alan Parks

Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca? by Alan Parks

 

I found this book for free through the Kindle store one day and it sounded amusing. I am really glad I picked it up. It is a refreshing story of a couple in their mid-years, maybe 40s or 50s, I’m not really sure, giving up their current life and relocating somewhere else to pursue a dream.

Alan and Lorna Park lived in England, but when Lorna began to experience health issues and could not continue work as a dance teacher, Alan suggested they pack up, move to Spain, and raise alpacas. They had fallen in love with the alpacas at the local park and felt they would be happy living in the country raising and breeding the animals, and there was a good bit of money to be had in the business as well. They went for it – and here is there story. It is full of hilarious humor and terrible heartache as you listen to Alan describe the first five years in their endeavor. The animals make guest appearances with little written notes at the end of a few chapters. You meet the interesting individuals they meet as they search for a home, learn about alpacas from another breeder, and meet their new neighbors. The antics and events are completely real and believable. It doesn’t feel forced or exaggerated. You feel for Lorna and Alan and the animals at their farm. You can sympathize and laugh at their predicaments, celebrations, and random happenings. I was very much amused by the animal count at the beginning of the different chapters. Through Alan you could feel their passion and love for all the animals and why they chose to do what they did. You learn a lot about country living, solar power, Spanish farmers, Spain, and particularly alpacas. The writing is smooth and it is an easy read. Since the couple is British, the references to distances, heights, and weights use the metric system, which is a little difficult for American readers. Some of their lingo is a little different too, but it’s fairly easy to understand.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a great story about taking that leap of faith and pursuing a dream. It will definitely not go as planned. It will not be pretty or easy. There will be things you hadn’t even thought of which will make you rethink your decision. But at the end of the day, you stay. Why? Because you are finally happy.

My rating:

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