From the Cliffs of Pyla: A Memoir

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Karlan Strong’s story begins with her childhood experience of a bomb raid in Paris. From this moment, her orderly, predictable family life collapses to a mix of dislocation and loss. Beginning when she was a child of four and concluding some 40 years later with the death of her husband, this memoir traces the suffering and triumph not only of Strong but of the man she married and the others she loved. Strong’s memoir maps the emotional and mental courage required to craft an authentic and loving adult life from a chaotic injurious childhood. Her presumed intention is to accomplish this mapping with craft, compassion, artful description, and literary skill. She has succeeded in this intent.

Memoirs of a difficult life are the only ones worth writing, but are also most difficult for readers. We are wary of emotional manipulation and exposure to an excess of personal suffering. But I was fully engaged in this memoir from the opening lines: “Paris: June 1940. Bombs fell and everything shook. My sister, Joan, threw up. And no one got my breakfast.” Strong’s strength is her ability to write from various perspectives: first of as four-year-old, then a bewildered, loving child on the run in wartime, then a boisterous adolescent wearing her pain with bravado. In adulthood, of course, Strong seeks friendship, marriage, and motherhood. To do this successfully, she must face squarely the facts and the sequela of her war-torn and injured past.

Strong’s struggles, secrets, and her loyalties are rendered with craft, intelligence, and with respect–both for her individual subjects and for the readers. Throughout the memoir, we understand Strong and her husband: their struggles, their motives, their growth and change. Strong finishes her story mid-life and she graciously provides us with a short epilogue which eases the closing of the book. I enjoyed this memoir and look forward to sharing it with friends who themselves have had struggles, injuries, losses and victories and who will appreciate the words of a companion on the journey.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 289 pages
Publisher Xlibris
Publish Date 23-Jun-2010
ISBN 9781453511275 Buy this Book
Issue February 2011
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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