Tag Archives: history

Six Degrees: From “The End of the Affair to Five Little Indians”

It’s time again for Six Degrees. So I did take out this month’s starting book, “The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene, from the library, intending to read it, but my good intentions fell flat.

“Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan
This is the first book—one that I just finished reading—that popped into my head when I learned what the starting book was in this month’s chain, mainly because Mrs. Lewis aka Joy Davidman’s first husband had a string of affairs during their toxic marriage. But while I was reading the book, I discovered another connection: one of Davidman’s doctors was Graham Greene’s brother, and she tells the story about how she had just finished reading “The End of the Affair” when he examined her, and how she discussed the literary London world with Dr. Greene. “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” is a slow burn romance with a lot of philosophy and theology thrown in. One of my favourite recent reads!

“Once Upon a Wardrobe” by Patti Callahan
I am looking forward to reading this book written by the same author. I sat in on a webinar last Thursday during which Callahan talked about the book and about how the main theme is “Where do stories come from?” The story centres around sibling relationships including the main character siblings Megs and George, and real life siblings C.S. (or Jack) and his brother Warnie. Of course, this leads into the four siblings who also star in the next book.

This is what my book cover looks like.

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis
Those siblings are Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. This book is one of my favourite childhood reads, which is why I love reading about C.S. Lewis’ life so much.

The next book is quite the departure from the C.S. Lewis writings and that book is:

“Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch” by Rivka Galchen
In the previous book in the chain the fictional White Witch is the character from the title, but in this book the witch is actually a historical figure, Katharina Kepler, mother of Imperial Mathematician Johannes Kepler. I’ve long wanted to read this story, and it was actually long listed for Canada Reads, but alas it did not make the short list.

“We Two Alone” by Jack Wang
Also long listed but not short listed for Canada Reads, it’s another book on my TBR list. I was fortunate to attend a webinar hosted by The Fold a few weeks ago during which Wang taught about holding attention in a short story, and it was an amazing lecture. Wang is talented! Set on five continents, the book is about the Chinese immigrant experience and spans a century.

“Five Little Indians” by Michelle Good
This is a book that did make the Canada Reads short list. Will it win? It stands a good chance, as the book about five residential school survivors coming to terms with their past has already won awards including the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction, and it will be adapted into a series, but we won’t know the winner until the end of the month.

In the first half of the chain I concentrated on C.S. Lewis and his life and writings, and in the second half I wrote about long listed Canada Reads contenders. That’s the fun of this challenge: you never know where it will take you.

Hope to see you next month again when we start with “Our Wives Under the Sea” by Julia Armfield.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories
@Copyright 2022 Linda Schueler

Objects Tell a Story

Ever since I read Jane Urquhart’s “A Number of Things: stories of Canada told through fifty objects”, written for Canada 150, I have wanted to write my own book about family and personal objects.

Last year I bought my parents’ house. It’s belonged to my family for over 50 years, so you can well imagine that it has accumulated some stuff. A lot of this stuff has meaning, and in sifting through it, I have had to consider very carefully what to get rid of and what to keep. So I have decided that now is the time to start writing that book about personal and family objects. 

I treasure the time that I spent with my father going through his photo albums from Africa, writing down the stories he told me as we looked at every picture. I wish I could have done the same with my mother and her childhood albums. So that’s one reason I want to write a book about our objects. I want to write it before every one forgets the meaning behind the objects.

Objects in people’s houses are interesting things. They may have meaning for only one person, or different meanings for all family members. They may be very mundane or incredibly valuable. Some you may keep out of guilt and others bring up warm memories. Whatever the meaning, it is fascinating to go through and consider all of them.

I’ll start with some family objects in this post.

Here’s a selection of mine:

  1. The “push present”

I was surprised and delighted when my aunt gave me this teacup. It turns out that it is the push present my grandfather gave my grandmother upon my mother’s birth. I was amazed that my aunt had kept this for so long, but also touched that she thought to give it to me. She gifted it to me when she was in Canada, attending my dad’s funeral two years ago. I had never ever heard of push presents until recently, so I was surprised that my grandmother had received one. I thought it was a relatively new invention, but I guess it’s not. It made me wonder if my mom got any push presents after she birthed her children. Come to think of it…where’s my push present?! 

2. The volcanic rock

This volcanic rock comes from the Mwatesi River that ran through the farm my dad lived on when he was a child in Africa. My uncle gave it to my father, and I kept it. It is on my “bucket list” to travel to the area in Africa where my dad was born and raised. I keep it as a reminder of that dream.

3. The sugar bowl

I have a hard time getting rid of this sugar bowl, despite its battered appearance. It just reminds me so much of my childhood. When I look at it, I see my father’s hand reaching into it with the special flower embossed silver spoon we only used for the sugar bowl and sprinkling sugar on his morning grapefruit. I have temporarily repurposed it for my daughter’s hair bands, since they end up everywhere anyway. I noticed that the bowl comes from Bavaria. In fact, I noticed that a lot of our older family objects come from Bavaria. They must be gifts from my dad’s brother, who stayed in Germany while my dad and his other brother immigrated to Canada.

This is just a small selection, but at least I got my book started.

In another post I’ll talk about some personal objects.

What about you? What objects have you kept that tell about your family history?

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2019 Linda Schueler