"Have you thought about writing your family history, but found yourself stuck from the start? Writing a family narrative can be a daunting task, but Karen Jones Gowen found a way to bring her mother's story to life." (Homespun Magazine)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Farm Girl Stimulates Readers' Memories

Yes it is true. My little book gets people thinking, remembering, wanting to record those vague memories and bring them from the shadows to the page. Here is Angela Schmidt's review from her lovely blog Letters from Usedom (Germany):

Donnerstag, 15. April 2010
"Farm Girl"
"Doesn`t everyone have a life worth telling?"
That was the entrance sentence of the book I once started writing (I got to page 69, then my blogging took over). I haven`t finished it, but I still believe so, and my clever blog pal Karen Jones Gowen did the same, when she patiently interviewed her mother, in order to save Lucille Marker Jones` memories.

What a life - born from Norwegian immigrants who settled in Nebraska around 1880, having grown up on a homesteader`s farm - and who of us can imagine such a life!? Or as Lucille puts it: "It has made me realize how drastically times have changed for children growing up today. Perhaps this will help my grandchildren and others understand history a little better... After all, history is just the story of people`s lives."
Women`s lives, I would like to add.

Can you imagine how it was, back in the old days, with no washing machine, no fridge, not even electricity, not all the things which come so natural to us nowadays? What hard work had to be done, just for the simple necessities of life?
Karen lets her mother recall her memories, without interrupting. It is a slow walk back on memory lane, you feel the rhythm of the time, the simple joys and the family bonds.

A lovely, quiet book. Now that I`m through I feel like I want to read it again, and take more time.

But what it did to me was more - it made me think back to my own childhood, and my visits to my grandparents whose life was really not that much different from Karen`s grandparents`. It was just a different time in history.

My grandfather was a horse-cart driver, what would be a truck driver today. He had a hand for horses, and maybe that was where I have my love for horses from. My grandparents had a small patch of land a bit outside of the city, and my grandmother had a sheep (called Lotte), a few pigs, and about 20 chickens who I used to love to feed. She grew potatoes, vegetables, had pear and apple trees and a few berry bushes. Besides caring for her small "farm" and her husband, she raised four sons, of whom only one survived the War. My father.

What a hard life...
My memories linger on, to my other side of the family. My other grandma whose family had lived in the same village for centuries, even in the same house. They all had large families, ten children were not uncommon.

If only one of them had written a book. I would have LOVED to read it now.
Karen, thank you for yours, in place of the ones that were not written. Maybe I will return to writing mine, even...

Angela, thanks for that wonderful review, and I hope you will go back to writing your book.


  1. That's a lovely review.
    My own parents had such lovely old memories to tell and maybe there was a sense of romance in but community seemed such a large part of the old ways.
    Maybe we have gained a lot through progress but lost a little too.

  2. Awwwww - I want my book!!!


    The great news is that Amazon are refunding my monies so I can now purchase it from you or the publishers. I really, really want a copy!

    Especially after reading this fab review!!

    Take care

  3. That is a lovely review. I do plan on getting your book, Karen. It's hard for me where I live, my mother doesn't like me receiving packages through the mail (she worries about the post-men stealing them, about collecting them, about everything!) but one day when I have my own place it will be my way to celebrate! I'd love to have a shelf of blogging buddies books. :)

    My grandparents - one Nan was from a family of ten who came to London from Ireland to get work. Her husband, my grandad, was an east-end cockney gentlemen who held two jobs most of his life. My other Nan's dad (my great-grandad) met her American mum on a boat from New York. In the days it took to sail to England they were a couple. We're still not sure how a Polish immigrant who couldn't speak English ended up romancing an American school-teacher on a boat from New York! But he did, and they had ten children - my Nan being the youngest. :)

  4. Jayne, love this bit of your family history, so interesting! It just makes me want to know more!

    Old Kitty, (I never like calling you 'old'), just email me and we can work something out. Wonder what went wrong with Amazon? Usually they're so easy to order from.

    Brigid, it's always nice to hear other peoples memories of their own family history when they read Farm Girl. It makes me wish everyone had a book of their family stories that I could read.


I don't post very often, but if you leave a comment I'll know someone is out there reading. And then I will post more! Bwa ha ha!