Having never read a memoir, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But from the moment I got involved with loveahappyending.com and selected my authors, I knew I would be a fan of the genre – at least this particular author’s account of his early years.
Just from the brief blurbs on the loveahappyending.com/harry-leslie-smith/ author page, there was a parallel resonance between Harry’s life and my father’s, although comparing the two, my father’s life wasn’t nearly so tragic and poverty-stricken. In their later years, they both fought in Europe during WWII.
It must have been extremely painful for Harry to be able to put his childhood on paper for all to see yet cathartic at the same time.
It’s hard to imagine the type of childhood Harry experienced in 1920s and 1930s England. In that period, people did what that had to in order to survive, including digging through trash and stealing from others to obtain something to eat. His account of his father’s years of working in the mines until he could no longer work below ground to being pensioned off and shamed out of the family home because of the actions of his mother, who only did what she had to in order to ensure their survival (such as it was).
Even Harry’s mates and later his RAF comrades had no idea what he had been through as a child, ***spoiler here*** although I suspected it would tumble out when he pulled his rifle on a fellow serviceman. ***end spoiler***. Harry had invented a happy reasonaby normal family life for himself.
Harry is quick to credit his older sister, Mary, for his survival. When she finally leaves home, he’s devastated. They remain close but it’s not the same. When he talks about corresponding with Mary after he’s enlisted with the RAF, you can feel the hurt in his words as he knows they’ve drifted apart.
Harry’s keen wit and way with words make for an spell-binding rollercoaster ride of emotions from the lowest of low to the highest of high. He doesn’t pull any punches and is brutally honest when reliving his experiences.
1923: A Memoir is available in Hardcover for $19.22 CDN and Paperback for $15.30 CDN from amazon.ca – in Hardcover for $24.28 US, Paperback for $16.46 US and for the Kindle for $1.19 US from amazon.com and through amazon.co.uk in Hardcover for £20.94, Paperback for £13.66 and for the Kindle for £0.83.
There are two more chapters forthcoming in this series. 1947: A Place For The Heart To Kip and the final book, tentatively entitled 1953: Empress of Australia.
After reading his first, I’ll definitely be purchasing the next two.