Sunday, February 28, 2010

After the Falls: A Memoir by Catherine McClure Gildiner

After the Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties is the memoir of Cathy McClure Gildiner. It's the second instalment in a trio of memoirs from this author. In this part of her life, Cathy writes intimately about her years as a rebellious teenager and her departure for college.

Gildiner's memoir is wonderfully written and reads more like a novel, rather than a disjointed collection of events. Each event flows naturally into the next. Sometimes I find that when I read a biography or memoir there are sections that aren't quite as interesting as the rest. However, I didn't find this to be true about this one. Each and every story or situation is fascinating and made me want to read more.

She spells out the ups and downs in her life with humour and honesty, but there seemed to be an underlying sadness, especially with the events surrounding her father's illness. I was particularly interested in the early sections of the book when Cathy relates details from her early childhood. I'm amazed that she could remember so much from that time period. Equally interesting were her dealings with the radical and political groups toward the end of the book.

While I couldn't exactly relate to life in the sixties (I was born in the sixties), I found that I gained a certain understanding of older siblings and relatives who lived through it. What a difference a decade (plus a few years) makes. The world was different then; I hadn't given that fact much thought until now. Anyway, Gildiner really gives the reader a sense of what the world was like by detailing her experiences in those tumultuous times.

Favourite quotes (from an uncorrected proof, so they may or may not be present in the final publication):
Shame is not like guilt. You can't say five Hail Mary's and get rid of shame. It enters all of your pores as a gas and then liquefies in each cell. It becomes a part of you. (page 26)
Real experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.(page 119)

New word alert: seditious = rebellious; braggadocio = overblown, empty boasting

As I mentioned above, this book is the second in a planned trio of memoirs. The first instalment, Too Close to the Falls, spent 71 weeks on the best seller lists. According to Gildiner's blog, a follow-up memoir called The Long Way Home will cover ages 21-25.

Recommended. I plan to track down her first book, while I anxiously await the publication of her third memoir.

Want to read more reviews? Check out Colleen's at Lavender Lines, Jonita's at The Book Chick and Marci's at Serendipitous Readings.

For more information about this book, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author, her other books and her blog, please visit Catherine Gildiner website.

Review copy provided by Random House via Just Another Online Book Club on Facebook. Thank you.

After the Falls by Catherine Gildiner, Alfred A. Knopf Canada (Random House), ©2009. ISBN 9780307398222 (Uncorrected Proof), 344p.

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