Posts Tagged ‘empty cradles’

5 books meme

June 21, 2011

In the interests of not staying up till midnight for each blogpost I’m preparing this one early, and having my first go at a meme, the 5-books-meme!  Thank goodness for Library Thing which should make this quite easy!  I also had an online book-buying binge whilst I was laid up with my sprained ankle – have you tried Booko yet?  It’s an Oz price comparison site and absolutely brilliant.  I’ve got lots of books on the go and in the to-read pile!

1. The books I’m currently reading:

Empty cradles / Margaret HumphreysAlthough I’ve got a few in my currently reading collection in LT, I am only seriously reading two books at the moment:  Empty Cradles (a re-read prompted by going to see Oranges and Sunshine last Friday, just as wrenching and horrifying as I remember) and Dancers in Mourning by Margery Allingham.  I’m a long time fan of the four Queens of crime, Margery Allingham, Agatha Chistie, Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh.  (Nice to see some fellow DLS fans in the #blogjune blogroll – that’s you Hecuba Reads and you Bookends!)  My Mum and sister have complete sets of Aggie, I’ve had a complete collection of DLS’s detective fiction for years, and I’ve only recently completed my Marsh collection.  Dancers in mourning / Marjorie Allingham

So now I’m working my way to a complete set of Campion stories by Allingham.  (Not sure if I’ll go for the later ones written by her husband, I couldn’t come at the Jill Paton-Walsh continance of Sayers’ work).  I particularly love these ladies’ works written and set in the 30s, indeed, when I went to art school and studied art history I found the art milieu of the interwar period strangely familiar, and realised I knew the atmosphere from reading detective fiction!  Soviet Club anyone?

2. The last books I finished

Homer's Odyssey / Gwen CooperI’ve already written about Little Bets, so I’ll talk about the two previous finished reads: Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper and  The Phantom tollbooth by Norman Juster.  Homer’s Odyssey will appeal to the many cat-lovers amongst #blogjune’s participants (Bookslibrariesandcats for example!).  I found this story just a bit too catty in its early chapters (my mum agreed, but we are, I confess, dog-people) however I persisted and it drew me in, I was ultimately moved by how one small, blind, cat became the cat-alyst for growth in his owner’s life.  Phantom tollbooth / Norman JusterThe Phantom Tollbooth is the childrens’ classic that got away and that I’ve only read as a grown up (the Green Knowe books are another example of childrens’ books I came to late and loved)  Again I’m in the zeitgeist with this one as  Joy’s book blog has already reviewed this gem for Blogjune!  (And thanks to ABE Books Reading copy book blog for alerting me to this one!)

3. The next books I want to read:

In tearing haste / Debora Devonshire and Patrick Leigh FermorIn Tearing haste : letters between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor.  I’m a huge fan of PLF and the Mitfords so I’ve been looking forwards to this one.  I’d begun this and put it aside, and the death of PLF last week will add poignancy to the read.  Again, there are plenty of PLF fans amongst the Blogjune bloggers:  RuminationsRead it 2011 and Hecuba reads (again!, Hecuba Reads, I feel I’m getting to know you…). The well at the world's end / A J Mackinnon Then I’ll get stuck into The Well at the World’s End by A J Mackinnon.  I think I am in love with Mr Mackinnon after reading his Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow.  I laughed so hard on the train that the woman opposite asked me what I was reading.

4. The last book I bought:

Art and fear / D Bayles and T OrlandArt & Fear : observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking  by David Bayles and Ted Orland.  This was listed in the reading list in the back of Little Bets and as my art practice has been languishing this may be what I need to read…

5. The last book I was given:

The Boatswain’s Manual  by William A McLeod.  It came via my sister’s mother-in-law and I can feed my inner sailor with this book, published in 1957 (I have the 1962 reprint) as:The boatswain's manual / William A McLeod

Most seamanship books available to young seamen are of the advanced textbook type… Such books are of little use to those who wish to learn the rudiments of seamanship work …these pages have been compiled as a book of elementary knowledge for the beginner and also as a reference book for older deck ratings, especially those who seek information relating to everyday seamanship problems…

So, there we have it, my reading past present and future, and how delighted I am to find fellow readers with similar interests in the Blogjune blogroll.  Ain’t the interweb thingy grand!

Oh yes, I should mention that though I’ve got Kindle for iPhone, Stanza and iBooks on my iPhone, I am reading all of these in “dead tree” format…

Oranges and Sunshine – Charity and Ghosts

June 17, 2011

Empty Cradles / Margaret HumphreysAround about 1994 I was browsing in New Edition bookshop in Fremantle and picked up a copy of Margaret Humphreys‘ book Empty Cradles.  I glanced at the beginning, began reading and was hooked.  I bought the book, took it home and read it straight through.  Now that compelling, horrifying, compasionate book has made it to the screen as the equally compelling, horrifying, compassionate film Oranges and Sunshine.

This is the story of the foundation of the Child Migrants Trust.  Of how, in 1986, Nottingham Social worker Margaret Humphreys’ work with adoptees led her to two women who’s lives had been devastated by forced child migration.  At first skeptical that Britain could’ve sent children across the world without parents or foster families, Margaret (Emily Watson), with the support of her husband Merv (Richard Dillane) works to find the women’s families.  To help them she visits Australia and makes the discovery that child migration affected more than just a handful of  children.  Her work snowballs as more and more “orphans” (as they were called, though many had parents living) come forward for assistance.  David Wenham and Hugo Weaving play Len and Jack, two of these damaged men, men who were promised the “Oranges and Sunshine” of the title, but for whom the reality was hardship and abuse.  Margaret and Merv’s lives are taken over  by the the quest to find the now grown children’s families before it is too late.Oranges and Sunshine

Directed by Jim Loach (son of Ken Loach) Oranges and Sunshine is a brilliant recreation of the mood of the book, the acting is understated, with Watson, Wenham and Weaving conveying worlds of emotion in the tiniest gesture.  My only quibble is that as a West Australian I had some trouble accepting Adelaide and South Australia as stand-ins for Perth and Western Australia (I had the same problem with Shine) but it’s not a criticism of this brilliant and moving film.

Margaret’s work for Child Migrants was recognised in Australia in 1993 when she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, and in Britain this year (2011) when she received a CBE.  The West Australian Government apologised to Child Migrants for their treatment in 1998, the Australian Government in 2009, and the British Government in 2010.

Go and see Oranges and Sunshine – no Australian or Briton should miss it.

I’ll leave you with another moving tribute to Child Migrants, Charity and Ghosts by the Stillsons.


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