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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

Ninety Years in the Making (Author Wendy Mellor)

Ninety Years in the Making (Book Cover)

Inspiring, Thought Provoking, Emotional

Genre: Autobiography

Ninety Years In The Making By Wendy Mellor

Wendy, the author approached me asking if I would read and review her book. I was flattered to actually be asked and of course said yes. When she offered to actually send it to me, I was so excited and felt like an actual proper reviewer! I also knew that my opinion on this book was important to Wendy as it is so personal to her, the memoirs of her lovely mum.

The pressure was on, not only to produce a review worthy of her work, but also I haven't always thought that Autobiographical reviews are my best writing. The initial thing that really drew me in on a very personal basis was that Wendy and her family are from the North in the UK. My mother's side of the family live in Cheshire. People from these parts are well known for their straight talking, but also being very family orientated and so I knew that this was going to be a good wholesome read and I wasn't disappointed!

The big family is there, Wendy is one of five. Wendy's mother June, is one of five. I immediately started to read it in my head in a northern accent which seemed to fit the writing.

The book starts when June was born in Oldham, 1933, she has two older siblings and tells of the trials and tribulations with both amusing and emotional anecdotes as she travels through her journey of four score years and ten. She opens with a memory of being taken into an 'aunty's' parlour to pay last respects to 'grandma' laid out in a coffin. She was six and the memory has never left her. One can well understand why I think! Whilst people weren't well off in those days and didn't enjoy the comforts that we now have, I have to say that her childhood sounds like a time when she was in no doubt that she was loved and looked after with that old fashioned sense of community. Something that I don't think you get much of anymore. Its every man for himself nowadays. That effort to keep family together through thick and thin seems to have been lost with the loss of older generations. June's teenage years, going to dances and meeting her husband-to-be, Fred, getting 'wed' and moving in with a relative until they found their own home, wouldn't happen so much now. Things are done the opposite way around. That feeling of support and warmth of the era really shone through in her words. Despite Fred's health problems, and through June's pregnancies that weren't always easy, a one woman showdown with the council over the state of their home, several changes in work, house moves and June's elevation to self employed business woman with her own hair salon, they stuck together as a family to weather the storms that life brought to their door.

June reveals the loss of not one but two key male family members, both at a very similar age, and the hurt and heartbreak of another, that effected her deeper than she could ever have imagined. On the lighter side, The tale of three 'self flushing' toilets supplied to serve ten residents in one street was both a revelation and made me laugh out loud.

In one chapter she takes us back to when smoking in public places was common place and how ladies used to sit under the dryer in her salon, and light up a fag. Its funny that the smoking ban only came into effect sixteen years ago but I honestly can't imagine people smoking in hairdressers and other places now.

One chapter is entitled 'A Decade Of Disasters' which saw a death, and a house fire, but June also met and eventually married her second husband and she even mentions the infamous Bobby Ball and attending the opening of his club - I loved Cannon & Ball as a kid and now follow Tommy Cannon who is in his 80's, on Twitter.

The final chapter details June's retirement years and brings us to the present day. I was so impressed that she has a Masters in Reiki. She also bakes and gardens, and despite having a fall in her garden on her 86th birthday, June remains fit & well and surrounded by three generations of family. Photographs of whom have been included. It strikes me whilst reading June & Wendy's wonderful words that, compared to modern times, being born in June's era meant that you could be certain of a life well lived, even if it was hard...something not guaranteed nowadays.

Indeed, myself, I am envious of the chance that Wendy has had to do this with her lovely mum. Mine passed many years ago & until you get older, I don't think you appreciate what generations before you experienced. I hope that our June has many wonderful years left. I have been left with an impression of a very strong resilient lady. What a life. What a woman. Thank you for letting me read your story ladies.

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