Once I got over the shock of Mary Ann telling me I am a crone (!), I really relaxed into these lovely stories. I have lived most of the same decades as the women who tell their stories in this book. What struck me was how matter of fact they are about their own personal life history.
The simplicity of the way the stories are told, in their own words, is surprisingly powerful. To all intents and purposes, five ordinary women at birth went on to live remarkable lives, and lives which are inspirational in what they’ve seen and achieved on their journey to becoming grandmothers.
The stories make the book rather gripping. I finished it over two nights but didn’t want to put it down at bedtime, only exhaustion caused me to do that. The content is compelling enough and short enough to gobble up the book in one sitting. What a treat!
The women’s stories made me want to buck up my ideas a bit because I am not a mother or a grandmother and I haven’t travelled the world as they have or fought the same battles of sexism and paternalism, or not to the same extent. But I do remember lots of what they do and some of it seems laughable now. And laudable. And fascinating. And it rekindled all sorts of memories of the nearly six decades of my own life.
There’s nothing like a good story, is there? This book contains five…. or perhaps even six because Mary Ann is an anthropologist and though her editing hand is light, you can feel her story ripple through the text here too, or perhaps that was just me. Social history in the reading, learning through stories. That’s my favourite way to learn.
Mary Ann, when can we have more?