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The New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series offers a deeply personal memoir of her family’s resilience in the face of war and privation. “Jacqueline Winspear has created a memoir of her English childhood that is every bit as engaging as her Maisie Dobbs novels, just as rich in character and detail, history and humanity. Her writing is lovely, elegant a The New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series offers a deeply personal memoir of her family’s resilience in the face of war and privation. “Jacqueline Winspear has created a memoir of her English childhood that is every bit as engaging as her Maisie Dobbs novels, just as rich in character and detail, history and humanity. Her writing is lovely, elegant and welcoming.” —Anne Lamott After sixteen novels, Jacqueline Winspear has taken the bold step of turning to memoir, revealing the hardships and joys of her family history. Both shockingly frank and deftly restrained, her memoir tackles such difficult, poignant, and fascinating family memories as her paternal grandfather's shellshock, her mother's evacuation from London during the Blitz; her soft-spoken animal-loving father's torturous assignment to an explosives team during WWII; her parents’ years living with Romani Gypsies; and Jacqueline’s own childhood working on farms in rural Kent, capturing her ties to the land and her dream of being a writer at its very inception. An eye-opening and heartfelt portrayal of a post-War England we rarely see, This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing is the story of a childhood in the English countryside, of working class indomitability and family secrets, of artistic inspiration and the price of memory.


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The New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series offers a deeply personal memoir of her family’s resilience in the face of war and privation. “Jacqueline Winspear has created a memoir of her English childhood that is every bit as engaging as her Maisie Dobbs novels, just as rich in character and detail, history and humanity. Her writing is lovely, elegant a The New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series offers a deeply personal memoir of her family’s resilience in the face of war and privation. “Jacqueline Winspear has created a memoir of her English childhood that is every bit as engaging as her Maisie Dobbs novels, just as rich in character and detail, history and humanity. Her writing is lovely, elegant and welcoming.” —Anne Lamott After sixteen novels, Jacqueline Winspear has taken the bold step of turning to memoir, revealing the hardships and joys of her family history. Both shockingly frank and deftly restrained, her memoir tackles such difficult, poignant, and fascinating family memories as her paternal grandfather's shellshock, her mother's evacuation from London during the Blitz; her soft-spoken animal-loving father's torturous assignment to an explosives team during WWII; her parents’ years living with Romani Gypsies; and Jacqueline’s own childhood working on farms in rural Kent, capturing her ties to the land and her dream of being a writer at its very inception. An eye-opening and heartfelt portrayal of a post-War England we rarely see, This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing is the story of a childhood in the English countryside, of working class indomitability and family secrets, of artistic inspiration and the price of memory.

30 review for This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth George

    Full disclosure: I know Jackie Winspear as she is a fellow crime writer with whom I've done panel presentations. Having said that, I loved her memoir, which will be available later in the summer. The memoir covers her childhood and adolescence in Kent, England, along with an exploration and description of the early years of her parents' marriage. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read. She brings to life not only the period of time during which she grew up but also the period of time that preceded her Full disclosure: I know Jackie Winspear as she is a fellow crime writer with whom I've done panel presentations. Having said that, I loved her memoir, which will be available later in the summer. The memoir covers her childhood and adolescence in Kent, England, along with an exploration and description of the early years of her parents' marriage. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read. She brings to life not only the period of time during which she grew up but also the period of time that preceded her birth, when her mother's enormous, boisterous Irish family lived through the Blitz in London. She explores the childhood she experienced on the land in agrarian England where picking hops and strawberries and apples was just a way people like Jackie's parents earned enough to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. No indoor plumbing, no electricity, a bath taken in a tin tub in the kitchen, trenches dug when the outhouse needed to be moved. The joy of simple things like a Sunday visit from the clan and running around with a multitude of cousins, a barely functioning car, walks on the frosty ground with Dad. It's a delightful book all the way round.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    OK, but not good.......at least for me. How do I explain my reaction without raising hackles? I must explain explicitly what failed and what worked for me. I am a fan of memoirs, biographies and autobiographies. Why? Because how one views oneself and others fascinates me. I like getting into other people’s heads. How individuals react to life events varies dramatically. What can we learn from each other? This is the underlying question for me. Secondly, historical events are made relevant and mea OK, but not good.......at least for me. How do I explain my reaction without raising hackles? I must explain explicitly what failed and what worked for me. I am a fan of memoirs, biographies and autobiographies. Why? Because how one views oneself and others fascinates me. I like getting into other people’s heads. How individuals react to life events varies dramatically. What can we learn from each other? This is the underlying question for me. Secondly, historical events are made relevant and meaningful through the effects they make on a person’s life. I look separately at the two points in relation to this book. I feel the book skims the surface, doesn’t go down in depth. The author speaks of her large, boisterous family. Her cousins are enough to pack a whole bus—I am not making this up, she tells us this. There are so many individuals touched upon, one leaves the book not knowing any one person well. How they think is left a mystery. Understanding specific individuals and family relationship is made difficult because the author rapidly jumps back and forth between individuals and in time. This leads to both repetition and confusion. No one life is covered thoroughly. Not even the author’s. There are holes everywhere. Halfway through, Winspear zeroes in on her own youth ad her relationships with her father and mother. This middle section is best. Later the focus starts hopping around again. Winspear tells us repeatedly that she loves, I mean loves in big letters, both her parents, yet she definitely has not gotten along well with her mother. When the author reached her teens, their relationship became rocky, which is normal. Her mother began criticizing her in a cruel and unwarranted fashion. Why? As an explanation, we are told that her Mom knew her daughter would love her anyhow, and so ultimately it didn’t matter how she treated her daughter. I don’t buy this reasoning. It’s simplistic. It’s superficial and indicative of the shallowness with which family relationships are analyzed. The mother’s cruel behavior continues through to the end of her life! This book reads as a feel good novel. Problems are smoothed over and sanitized. Past events are looked on with nostalgia. Rather than seeking a true understating of that which has occurred and the underlying causes of troubled relationships, the emphasis is shifted to forgiveness. Winspear does also speak of how the First and Second World Wars shaped and left indelible marks on the lives of family members. In this way, history is made personal. These snippets, these stories are interesting. Some of these family stories cannot be taken for fact. The point being made is that this is less relevant than that the storytellers believe what they are saying is true. There is a childishness to the prose that does not appeal to me. “Dr. Google” is the proffered authority when events related to medical difficulties arise. Again and again, rather than getting to the bottom of a question or a problem, an easy answer is found and accepted. The audiobook is narrated by the author. Her reading is fine. Most words are spoken clearly. Both English and American accents come across well. She speaks quickly at the start but then slows down. Three stars for the narration; it’s good. If you are a fan of the author’s Masie Dobbs books, you might like this more than me. I presume that events in her life are mirrored in her books. The author’ prose style might be more to your taste.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Literary Soirée

    Winspear is my favorite hf author; her Maisie Dobbs series a masterpiece. I expected nothing less from her memoir with the ebullient title, which engaged me from cover to last page. PERFECT MEMORY Her writing is elegant, rich in detail as an accident when young gave her an eidetic memory — and full of humanity that comes from living through especially tragic times. SILENCE AND RAGE This is a stream-of-conscious look at generations of the author’s family, reflecting memories that don’t arise in chr Winspear is my favorite hf author; her Maisie Dobbs series a masterpiece. I expected nothing less from her memoir with the ebullient title, which engaged me from cover to last page. PERFECT MEMORY Her writing is elegant, rich in detail as an accident when young gave her an eidetic memory — and full of humanity that comes from living through especially tragic times. SILENCE AND RAGE This is a stream-of-conscious look at generations of the author’s family, reflecting memories that don’t arise in chronological order. We see a grandfather with shell shock from WWI, whose rages impacted everyone around him, including Winspear’s father, who preferred things to be always quiet. His preference for silence also came from work as a messenger boy dodging bombs while delivering missives during the WWII London blitz. BURIED The blitz nearly took her mother’s life as a child. One day, she was at home ironing a favorite blouse and waving through the window at a neighbor child. Then bombs hit, blowing her clothes off while covering her with rubble. Miraculously, she survived unlike the other child who was blown to pieces where she’d played. UNSAFE As the bombing worsened, she and her sibs were evacuated to the countryside, the girls abused by the man supposed to shelter them. Trauma dogged the Winspears, as it did generations who lived through both World Wars. FOR RICHER, FOR POORER Her parents later met and married in London, moving to the Kentish countryside dirt poor, living in a Romany community and working on a farm to harvest hops and apples. The author and her younger brother were born there, later recalling happy memories in nature despite their poverty. HURTFUL Her mother, astoundingly beautiful and bright, nonetheless had sharp, unpredictable emotions. One moment kind and loving, the next verbally cruel to her daughter. She told constant stories, many involving war trauma, and Jacqueline listened intently, internalizing what she heard over time. The author developed crippling anxiety and sought therapy as an adult, learning that her mother’s stories had caused secondary post-traumatic stress in her. HAUNTED I’m reminded of a line about Maisie Dobbs, once a nurse injured near the front lines in WWI France: “She is as shell-shocked as any man who went to war.” A reviewer described the book’s era as “the wartime period that continues to haunt [the author].” Winspear later said she felt exposed, because the reviewer saw through her. “She knew I was haunted... And sixty years is a long time to put up with ghosts.” HEALING Writing this memoir 30 years in the making seems cathartic for Winspear, as I suspect writing the series has been. Maisie lovers will see elements from the series that derive clearly from the author’s life. ECHOES Maisie’s kind father reminds us so of Jacqueline’s. The death of Maisie’s mother when young reflects the hole in the author’s life without consistent maternal affection. The Romany stories and hop picking, Maisie’s breakdown at one point, wars that kill, maim and traumatize. Her healing through emotional and spiritual growth that echoes Jacqueline’s own. It’s all here. LAUGHING! But not all was bleak. Winspear truly loves her family, allowing her to forgive her mother and show her in an understanding light. We also see the family’s resilience reflected by her father’s pronouncement whenever they suffered misfortune: “This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing.” What a remarkable philosophy, what a courageous clan, what an astounding memoir!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    As usual Winspear's writing is exquisite. The experiences she relates from her own life and that of her parents are sometimes harrowing but at other times heart warming and funny. I was surprised by the organization, while roughly chronological, she chose to tell these stories almost as a series of vignettes rather than an over-arching narrative. I was impressed by the deep love and respect she shows her mother even when relating some truly ugly parenting moments. As usual Winspear's writing is exquisite. The experiences she relates from her own life and that of her parents are sometimes harrowing but at other times heart warming and funny. I was surprised by the organization, while roughly chronological, she chose to tell these stories almost as a series of vignettes rather than an over-arching narrative. I was impressed by the deep love and respect she shows her mother even when relating some truly ugly parenting moments.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    I found this enthralling and enjoyed the book from beginning to end. It's not just a memoir, its a dedication to her parents and family. I especially liked the interweaving of three generations, and giving an inside look at how the World Wars in England affected families, not just in the moment, but generations after. Besides the war, it was also an interesting look at her parents starting out their lives together, living almost as Romani's, scraping to get by, but living a life. Despite hardshi I found this enthralling and enjoyed the book from beginning to end. It's not just a memoir, its a dedication to her parents and family. I especially liked the interweaving of three generations, and giving an inside look at how the World Wars in England affected families, not just in the moment, but generations after. Besides the war, it was also an interesting look at her parents starting out their lives together, living almost as Romani's, scraping to get by, but living a life. Despite hardships and personalities, you can still feel the love and respect contained in the pages. One doesn't need to know anything about Maisie Dobbs (Winspear's main character in her mystery novels) to read the book, she only touches on that briefly here and there. As well, Jacqueline's adult life is the smallest part of the book, the focus is mainly on her family and her childhood. I also like that the memoir feels honest. There are highs and lows, excitements and disappointments and even sadness about a familial relationship that is laid bare. I've not read all the Maisie Dobbs novels, but I do want to go back and start them again and see if I can remember any of the stories played out in the books. If you like Memoirs, history of England during the war years, especially WWII, or Jacqueline Winspear, I would highly recommend this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Popsugar 2020-A book published in the month of your birthday

  7. 4 out of 5

    Holly Noel

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Soho Press in exchange for an honest review. To be upfront, I am not a fan of memoir or autobiographies. There has to be a really great reason for me to want to read this genre. I'm not saying they shouldn't be written or people shouldn't read them, but there can be bias to wanting to show yourself in a good light; which is totally understandable. So, why did I read this book? Especially considering I've never read any of Jacqueline Winspear's book. W I received an advanced copy of this book from Soho Press in exchange for an honest review. To be upfront, I am not a fan of memoir or autobiographies. There has to be a really great reason for me to want to read this genre. I'm not saying they shouldn't be written or people shouldn't read them, but there can be bias to wanting to show yourself in a good light; which is totally understandable. So, why did I read this book? Especially considering I've never read any of Jacqueline Winspear's book. Well, above it states I received this through NetGalley and Library Journal's Day of Dialog. During this virtual conference, there were panels with the authors of upcoming books. I attended one, not really realizing it was centered around memoirs until I was in it. I decided to stick with it. I became fascinated with all three books by these women, including Jacqueline Winspear's "This Time Next Year We'll be Laughing." She begins her story with her parents and continues on throughout her childhood Kent. Winspear reveals the joys and hardships of her family's history. She discusses the tough topics of her grandfather's shellshock, her mother's evacuation from London during the Blitz. Along with her soft-spoken, animal lover dad, who was assigned to an explosives team during WWII, and the years her parents spent living with Romani Gypsies. This was an eye-opening book not only to this woman's life but also to people's lives post-WWII. Winspear is shockingly frank and deftly restrained as she reveals the family history in such a way that I felt like I was reading fiction at times instead of a memoir. This actually made me want to read her Maisie Dobbs series, and I started listening to the first Maisie Dobbs on audiobook this past week. One big draw for me in deciding to read this book was her title. She explained during the panel that her dad had this saying, "this time next year we'll be laughing." It was a mystical phrase said by Winspear's dad. Through all the bad times we're experiencing now, don't worry, this time next year we'll all still be here, clutching our sides, laughing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Homerun2

    I looked forward to this memoir, being a big fan of Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series. Winspear and I are of an age, and it was sadly interesting how the post WWII childhood experience was so very different in England and in the U.S. Winspear definitely focuses on the positive aspects of growing up in the countryside: the communion with and appreciation of nature, the natural responsibility given to children, the work ethic and the simple joys. But certainly there were some stark times with financi I looked forward to this memoir, being a big fan of Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series. Winspear and I are of an age, and it was sadly interesting how the post WWII childhood experience was so very different in England and in the U.S. Winspear definitely focuses on the positive aspects of growing up in the countryside: the communion with and appreciation of nature, the natural responsibility given to children, the work ethic and the simple joys. But certainly there were some stark times with financial challenges and lack of amenities we take for granted, like indoor plumbing and washing machines and the abundance of food. But you get the feeling she wouldn't have traded any of it, because of the lessons and strength of character she gained. She writes with great care and affection of her parents, but it's clear her relationship with her mother was difficult. She adored her mother but suffered from her acerbic tongue and belittling. She is thoughtful when trying to fairly describe some of their interactions. The amount of detail that she remembers is amazing -- even given that she went back and interviewed family members and took notes. Obviously she remembers scenes and emotions very well -- and it shows beautifully in her fiction works too. This is a loving but honest portrayal of her family and relatives and of the time and place she grew up in. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sue Trav

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although it was a memoir it also felt like a historical fiction novel. The writing style was perfect. Just enough detail to clearly paint a picture of the scene without extra words or fluff added. The themes of family and perseverance dominate this story. I found it both entertaining and educational. The stories of growing up in post-war England were fascinating. Her parents sounded like quite the characters and I felt like I really knew them through her story tel I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although it was a memoir it also felt like a historical fiction novel. The writing style was perfect. Just enough detail to clearly paint a picture of the scene without extra words or fluff added. The themes of family and perseverance dominate this story. I found it both entertaining and educational. The stories of growing up in post-war England were fascinating. Her parents sounded like quite the characters and I felt like I really knew them through her story telling. Jacqueline Winspear is new to me and I am a fan after reading this book. Thank you to publisher, the author and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Burkhart

    Winspear narrated the audiobook version of her memoir. Her voice was wonderful and I could hardly stop listening to it. I was just so engrossed in her story. Tears rose to my eyes a number of times through this literary journey, I am so filled with love for this gorgeous book. Brilliant! Well done, Jacqueline Winspear.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Shindler

    I have been an admirer of Jacqueline Winspear since 2003 when she published Maisie Dobbs. Her memoir is a departure from her series . It is well written and insightful. Primarily, it is a paean to her family and a rural way of life that has mostly vanished. She chronicles her parents moving from post war London to rural Kent, picking hops and fruit to earn a living. The narrative encompasses the personal traumas of the generations that endured two World Wars. I was moved by the description of I have been an admirer of Jacqueline Winspear since 2003 when she published Maisie Dobbs. Her memoir is a departure from her series . It is well written and insightful. Primarily, it is a paean to her family and a rural way of life that has mostly vanished. She chronicles her parents moving from post war London to rural Kent, picking hops and fruit to earn a living. The narrative encompasses the personal traumas of the generations that endured two World Wars. I was moved by the description of her grandfather still removing shrapnel from his legs fifty years after World War 1. Ms Winspear writes without melodrama and takes the reader on her family’s journey through a transformative period of post World War 2. This journey is engaging and inspiring. As an additional bonus, the narrative provides additional insights into the subject matter and characters in the esteemed Maisie Dobbs series.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Glenda

    I love the title! I’m hoping that for our year of 2020. “This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing.” Wonderful storytelling written and read by one of my favorite authors.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marth

    I have read and enjoyed all of the books in the Maisie Dobbs series. This new memoir by Winspear opens a window into her life growing up in the countryside of post WWII Britain. I understand more clearly the rich inspirations of her stories in her novels. Growing up and working on hop, fruit, and vegetable picking farms, living in a Romany community, and hearing about her interesting family background is a gift to the reader of a unique time and place. The idyllic English countryside is peppered I have read and enjoyed all of the books in the Maisie Dobbs series. This new memoir by Winspear opens a window into her life growing up in the countryside of post WWII Britain. I understand more clearly the rich inspirations of her stories in her novels. Growing up and working on hop, fruit, and vegetable picking farms, living in a Romany community, and hearing about her interesting family background is a gift to the reader of a unique time and place. The idyllic English countryside is peppered with colorful characters and historic detail. I had to go online to see a video of the Hawkhurst train line mentioned in her memoir, which closed in 1961. I can almost see Jacqueline, her mother and brother traveling on these trains, the detail is so vivid. Living in this serene setting away from the noise of London is good for Winspear’s family but there is no lack of hardship or laborious hard work. Details of harsh effects on loved ones proves wars don’t end with armistices. Interspersed with poignant and eye opening stories is love of family and friends, especially among Jacqueline and her father as they go on walks in the country, learn about the value of work, frugality and resilience. This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing is a true gem of time and place gone by but teaches us to have faith in things that matter. Highly recommended. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review of this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bebe (Sarah) Brechner

    The autobiography of Winspear’s life is fascinating and impressionistic. Her family suffered lingering effects of both world wars in Great Britain, and this is artistically reflected in Winspear’s superb fictional series “Maisie Dobbs.” Fans will enjoy reading this history of her family and her upbringing. There is no chronology here, more of a series of memories, back and forth in time, which makes it a bit challenging to keep it all straight.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joy O’Toole

    An excellent memoir by the author of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I was waiting for this memoir to come out. And then, about the same time, two other favorite authors had new books out (Alice Hoffman & Fanny Flagg). I purchased all three and anguished over which book to read first. But not for long. Jacqueline Winspear's MAISIE DOBBS mysteries are stories that I can hardly wait to read when the next book is announced, and I've read all 15 of those historical fiction/mystery novels thus far published. I guess there was no contest here - Winspear won. And, ultim I was waiting for this memoir to come out. And then, about the same time, two other favorite authors had new books out (Alice Hoffman & Fanny Flagg). I purchased all three and anguished over which book to read first. But not for long. Jacqueline Winspear's MAISIE DOBBS mysteries are stories that I can hardly wait to read when the next book is announced, and I've read all 15 of those historical fiction/mystery novels thus far published. I guess there was no contest here - Winspear won. And, ultimately I, the reader, also won out as well. What a finely written, thoroughly compelling (at least for me), personal story that also encompasses glimpses into much of Britain's history pre-WW2, during WW2, and decades afterward - along with the author's own story of a love of nature, the land. Who will enjoy THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE'LL BE LAUGHING? Lovers of memoir. Those who love Jacqueline Winspear's other books. People who are interested in British history (particularly WW2). Those who are always interested in a writer's life and inspirations. Maybe even simply those who enjoy excellent writing. There's the author's struggles re growing up in a family filled with war stories, injuries, trauma. Real War Stories. And her parents have their own ideas about what she should study, what her goals should be. There's love and there's tension, as in most - if not all - families. Many will relate! In addition to the above, I'd read about Winspear's inspirations for many of the Maisie Dobbs plots, but that goes deeper in this memoir. This book makes it so very clear that pretty much no one in England went unscathed during either World War - not soldiers, not country folk, not children, not extended families. And it all falls to the descendants as well. Yet the Winspears eventually find some peace in the countryside. Escaping from London didn't resolve the poverty, or the trauma, but becoming close to nature, to the land, eventually become a healing balm insofar as that was possible. I found many interesting historical tidbits in the author's story - such as her dad telling her how, when he was injured while blowing up bridges and enemy communications lines in Germany, he was sent home to recover for a couple of weeks - wearing a "medical blue" uniform so that civilians would realize that he was not a shirker, not a conchie (a conscientious objector), but a soldier wounded while serving his country. I'd already read about the WW1 "white feathers" that women gave to those men at home not in uniforms in one of the Maisie Dobbs books (& possibly in other books), but hadn't realized this had been done during the next war to avoid such mortifying problems. Or maybe I'd just missed that info, immersed in other details... I could go on and on, but I have much to do. Enough to say that Jacqueline Winspear's THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE'LL BE LAUGHING earned its 5-star rating that I am giving it - that it is heartfelt and loaded with "story" - especially her parents' words and actions and how they shaped her life. Not every such story is absolute truth, but it is true for the storyteller. And in writing about the stories we grew up with, one can sort it all out. Mostly. Or at least somewhat. And the writing feels good.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    Award-winning novelist Jacqueline Winspear, creator of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries, examines mysteries from her own life in this evocative memoir. Winspear was born in England, the daughter of working-class parents who moved often and showed, she now realizes, a good deal more verve and adventurous spirit than she ever could have understood as a child. They once had lived in a “black hut” in the woods and then in a gypsy caravan where they and toddler Jackie worked alongside Romany travelers harve Award-winning novelist Jacqueline Winspear, creator of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries, examines mysteries from her own life in this evocative memoir. Winspear was born in England, the daughter of working-class parents who moved often and showed, she now realizes, a good deal more verve and adventurous spirit than she ever could have understood as a child. They once had lived in a “black hut” in the woods and then in a gypsy caravan where they and toddler Jackie worked alongside Romany travelers harvesting hops during especially harsh weather. When Winspear’s strong-willed mother tore the skin off her hands in an accident with a blade, a gypsy neighbor taught her how to make and sell flower arrangements to help the little family survive. Her mother then happily dressed like a Romany and even used bits of their language to purvey her wares. For his part, Winspear’s father --- the son of a World War I veteran with deep-seated mental and physical scarring, and himself a soldier in World War II --- chopped wood, saved every penny and embraced rural life. Medical conditions plagued the family. Winspear’s younger brother nearly died from a bursting appendix. When her mother developed a debilitating thyroid condition, Winspear also talked to a doctor about the fact that she saw double, which she had taken as normal. Soon she was undergoing serious ophthalmic treatments for migraines. She also learned that she had secondary PTSD related to hearing her mother’s harrowing wartime tales of narrowly surviving the bombings of the Blitz. Almost as soon as she could read and had a chance to attend school regularly, Winspear knew she wanted to be a writer. Her social class was a handicap in pursuing her educational goals, and later --- perhaps echoing her parents’ zestful approach to life (her father’s oft-repeated phrase comprises the book’s title) --- she immigrated to the U.S. where her writing career began in earnest. Many stories in Winspear’s lively memoir will remind her readers of episodes from the Maisie Dobbs series. As she offers her recollections, more by theme than chronology, she also steps back to explore her motivations and corroborate her memories, some of which seem almost impossibly clear, while others, though plausible, have turned out by her investigations to be inaccurate. Walking with her through this complex thicket of rumination and reminiscence offers readers a chance to understand more about the writing process, while revealing details of a family heritage well worth recording. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    This book is a fascinating reflection from the author Jacqueline Winspear about her family and their influence on her. My mother read it and said that it really helped her understand more about her own large family and growing up poor in rural Canada. She felt that her experiences and struggles were not isolated and she was comforted to learn other families were quite similar to hers. If you are in your 70s or 80s you might relate quite a bit to this book, if your parents are of this generation This book is a fascinating reflection from the author Jacqueline Winspear about her family and their influence on her. My mother read it and said that it really helped her understand more about her own large family and growing up poor in rural Canada. She felt that her experiences and struggles were not isolated and she was comforted to learn other families were quite similar to hers. If you are in your 70s or 80s you might relate quite a bit to this book, if your parents are of this generation you will learn quite a bit. Anything that helps us all understand each other better is definitely worth the read. Jacqueline is an excellent author and this is a book definitely worth reading. Five stars. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is the story of Jacqueline Winspear’s life as a child. It talks about her grandparents and parents. What really stood out was how hard a life she and her family had. How few things they had an how behind the times where the place they live was. There really wasn’t much about her life after age 21 until she talks about her parents death. While she loved her other and how smart and witty she was, her mother was also cruel.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I thought I could not adore Jacqueline Winspear any more than I did..and then I read her memoir. I found it to be so lovely and moving. And somehow it resonates with me on a very deep level, though it would seem we have very little in common. But maybe that’s just what great writing does.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dana Jennings

    I've adored Winspear's Maise Dobbs series and thus sought out her memoir. My suggestion - listen to it! I expect her accent will enhance the pleasure of this recounting of a certain time in her life. Her writing is lyrical and vivid. I've adored Winspear's Maise Dobbs series and thus sought out her memoir. My suggestion - listen to it! I expect her accent will enhance the pleasure of this recounting of a certain time in her life. Her writing is lyrical and vivid.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    So, I met Jacqueline Winspear at an event at the San Francisco Public Library years ago (thanks, Deb) right as her second book was published. She told an absolutely charming story about how she decided she wanted to be an author, and that story is included in this memoir. This is a charming story about her family and childhood, and it's interesting how many bits of it show up in her novels. And given the way 2020 has been going, you can't beat the sentiment behind the title (an optimistic saying So, I met Jacqueline Winspear at an event at the San Francisco Public Library years ago (thanks, Deb) right as her second book was published. She told an absolutely charming story about how she decided she wanted to be an author, and that story is included in this memoir. This is a charming story about her family and childhood, and it's interesting how many bits of it show up in her novels. And given the way 2020 has been going, you can't beat the sentiment behind the title (an optimistic saying of her Dad's).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    This was interesting and I’m glad I read it because I love the Maisie Dobbs series but the memories told are a bit disjointed. Of course, that’s life. I was intrigued by her life in England because I was growing up in the same general time period here in the affluent US, and here I thought *I* grew up poor! I was surprised about all the bomb damage still evident in the 1960s there.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan Dunker

    An excellent memoir from British author of Maisie Dobbs mysteries. Such rich stories and family members. Very enjoyable!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Winspear examines her life growing up in the countryside of Southeast England--sometimes idyllic, sometimes not--as well as what it meant to look after aging parents, from 3,000 miles away. Through the struggles, her father would say, "This time next year we'll be laughing." As an anglophile and a Maisie Dobbs devotee, and a daughter whose father just turned 90, this book checked every box for me. A lovely, thoughtful memoir (especially for this pandemic, tension-filled year of 2020) reminding m Winspear examines her life growing up in the countryside of Southeast England--sometimes idyllic, sometimes not--as well as what it meant to look after aging parents, from 3,000 miles away. Through the struggles, her father would say, "This time next year we'll be laughing." As an anglophile and a Maisie Dobbs devotee, and a daughter whose father just turned 90, this book checked every box for me. A lovely, thoughtful memoir (especially for this pandemic, tension-filled year of 2020) reminding me that there are hard times for all of us and somehow we manage to make it through. Hopefully, the laughing will begin soon.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    This is interesting for the details it provides of growing up poor in England after the war. It's not particularly introspective or deep, but readers will come away with sheer admiration for the author, who decided from a young age that she wanted to become a writer, no matter what, and achieved that goal. Her portrait of her parents, especially her father, is memorable. Thanks to them---and to her own courage, good health, tenacity, and grit---she defied the odds of a class-bound society. This is interesting for the details it provides of growing up poor in England after the war. It's not particularly introspective or deep, but readers will come away with sheer admiration for the author, who decided from a young age that she wanted to become a writer, no matter what, and achieved that goal. Her portrait of her parents, especially her father, is memorable. Thanks to them---and to her own courage, good health, tenacity, and grit---she defied the odds of a class-bound society.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Silk

    I am a huge fan of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. This is Winspear’s memoir growing up during post war England. It really showed where various things came from in the Maisie Dobbs series and was an interesting look at a certain period of time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    I have to agree with “Christie’s “ review. I actually wAs disappointed by this book and a little bored. I loved her Maisie Dobbs” series but this book bordered on boring. Jumped around! Threw in so many characters and places I got tired of trying to keep track of where she was, how old she was and where did these characters come from and where’s she working now? he w

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I love Jacqueline Winspear's series of Maisie Dobbs and I didn't realize how much of the fiction series reflected her family's story. I always recommend this series to people who read history because it was so factual and such a wonderful look at England during and after WWI. It takes a special writer to reveal so many family secrets and memories. I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. I'm not a big biography reader but I'm glad I selected this one. I love Jacqueline Winspear's series of Maisie Dobbs and I didn't realize how much of the fiction series reflected her family's story. I always recommend this series to people who read history because it was so factual and such a wonderful look at England during and after WWI. It takes a special writer to reveal so many family secrets and memories. I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. I'm not a big biography reader but I'm glad I selected this one.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    If you like the Maizzie Dobbs series, you'll love Winspear's memoir - so much of her life is the mill's grist for Maizzie and her world - a world in which poverty plays a huge role - poverty and wealth side-by-side, and never the twain shall meet, but with pluck and dreams, life can be negotiated, and with some good fortune, and with the eyes to see it, life can be made. Time and again, I was struck by just how hard her life was ... yes, there was love, and plenty of it, but there was plenty of t If you like the Maizzie Dobbs series, you'll love Winspear's memoir - so much of her life is the mill's grist for Maizzie and her world - a world in which poverty plays a huge role - poverty and wealth side-by-side, and never the twain shall meet, but with pluck and dreams, life can be negotiated, and with some good fortune, and with the eyes to see it, life can be made. Time and again, I was struck by just how hard her life was ... yes, there was love, and plenty of it, but there was plenty of the darker side of things, too ... illness, death, bitterness, harsh teachers, dirty old men, lost chances, and disappointments. The book is remarkable in much the same way the Maizzie Dobbs series is - there's no preaching here, no self-congratulations, no lists of things to do to better one'e life, no pride, no "follow me and succeed." But there is hope ... and perhaps a reminder to every reader to pay attention to those who love us, even when that love is broken and misaligned. Patience, too, is evident - when disappointment comes, have a good cry, and then suck it up and get on with it. Winspear offers this in the humblest sort of way - maybe it was in her DNA, maybe in the crazy and fierce love of her "fey" family - who knows? And that's the genius of her memoir - not a "five easy steps to wealth," but a reminder that maybe everyone has something within them that which doesn't give up, and people around them who love them, and the patience to wait. When she was young, many a tear and much heartache ... only in retrospect can one see how these sad pieces have their place in the puzzle. I have no doubt that Winspear will never forget the hardship of her life, and she will never offer cheap platitudes to the poor and the lonely. I think if asked how it all came about, she might well mention her dreams, those who loved her, making the best of hand-me-downs, and then maybe shrug her shoulders with a smile and tell the questioner to trust their heart, to know that they, too, have gifts, abilities, and endurance - to be proud of themselves, and from time-to-time, tell some bloody fool standing in the way to sod off. Winspear brings to the page vivid descriptions of homes and fields, London and small towns, riding the bus and getting motion sickness, the cold of winter, the heat of summer. Because I've read all of the Maizzie Dobbs series, I see how Winspear's life is mirrored in Maizzie's life, and why Maizzie is portrayed so gently, because Winspear is a gentle human being. "Gentle" is the word that kept coming to mind as I read the memoir - people are presently gently, even when another writer might have let them have it. There is a deep kindness in Winspear's words, and the way she looks at life, and manages her sorrows. A kindness forged on an anvil. Of all the things here worth pondering, it's Winspear's return, again and again, to the fields and farms, the planting and the harvesting - much healing in hard work, in the fresh air and sunshine ... the worn hands at the end of the day, and the simple fare of her table. Hunger is hard, but it's no sin. This is not a "how to do" manual ... but a portrait for the reader to ponder, a portrait, much like one hanging in a museum, that invites us to linger before it, to sit on down, and look carefully at the eyes, the mouth, the hands - the background, the frame, the room in which the portrait hangs - to look, to relax and give thanks, take the weight off your feet ... whatever needs to happen will happen with a reading of Winspear's book. Along the way, we meet dozens of characters - flawed and foolish, wise and wonderful ... a little of this and little of that, all thrown into the bowl, mixed up, and baked. People can be marvelous and kind; they can be cruel and callous, deceptive and greedy. And generous, too. Her parents, an an unlikely match, I suppose, as most are ... but they love and work and endure. They love their children, but what love isn't bent and broken, too? But love it is ... and how hard they worked to put a roof over their heads and some food on the table. In sickness and in health, they put their hands to the plow and don't look back; they were often bone tired, but off they went. I don't know how a writer can get inside of someone else's soul, but Winspear has done it with her parents, and with her family, presenting them as flesh and blood human beings. I had the feeling that I knew them a bit ... no more or less than we can know anyone. As we move through the book, to the final chapters and closing words, we see love maturing, growing, and giving thanks for what has been, for what is, and for what shall be: "This time next year, we'll be laughing."

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