– Review Chair with Janice Horton

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The Review Chair – 1923: A Memoir

The Review Chair

Welcome to our regular Review Chair feature where we link up with our Featured and Associate Readers to discuss a author’s book.

19231923: A Memoir presents the story of a life lyrically described. Capturing a time both before and during World War II, when personal survival was dependent upon luck and guile and when life, full of raw emotion, was never so real. This book is available as a hardback, a paperback, and also as an e-book.

Our featured author is Harry Leslie Smith. Harry was born in England in 1923.  He went on to become a World War 2 Veteran. He has a keen interest in British and European history and contemporary politics. He is fluent in German. Presently, he is working on his next volume of memoirs which deal with his life in post war Germany and the UK. Currently, he divides his time between Canada, Great Britain and Portugal.

In 1923: A Memoir he chronicles the tragic story of his early life. He presents his family’s history of misfortunes and experiences of enduring poverty, infidelity, and abandonment.

Our Associated Reader in The Review Chair is Melanie Robertson-King, who as a native of Ontario, Canada. Melanie spent her pre-school years in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Her family moved to town where Melanie received her education. She returned to post-secondary education a number of years later where she received a degree in Computer Programming. Her interests, other than reading include genealogy, photography and travel – particularly to Scotland, as she is the daughter of a Scottish national who came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland.  Melanie blogs at Celtic Connexions.

I asked Melanie about her love of reading and if she had any particular reading preferences.

“I read crime, romance, horror, some fantasy, and historical fiction; although the best part of being a reviewer with is that you get to discover authors and genres you might not otherwise have read.” When I asked her if she had always been an avid reader she laughs and explains how, as a child, her cousins had bought her a book every year for Christmas. “That could have been the beginning of my love of books.” She then tells how she went on to read the complete series of Nancy Drew (only 33 books in the series back then) along with a number of Alfred Hitchcock mysteries borrowed from the local library before moving on to heavier reading.

So what was Melanie’s verdict of loveahappyending author Harry Leslie Smith’s 1923: A memoir?

“Having never read a memoir, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But from the moment I got involved with and selected Harry Leslie Smith’s book to review, I knew I would be a fan of the genre, at least this particular author’s account of his early years.

As an Associated Reviewer for you get to choose which authors to support. What in particular made you choose Harry Leslie Smith?

“Just from the brief blurbs on the site, 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. Although, in their later years, they both fought in Europe during WWII.”

So you felt an immediate connection to the story and the times of Harry’s early years. What is your opinion of his recollections and storytelling?

“Harry doesn’t pull any punches and is brutally honest when reliving his experiences. It’s hard to imagine the type of childhood he 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). I think 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.”

And what can you tell us of the rest of his family – do they feature?

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.

Melanie, how would you sum up 1923: A Memoir if I asked you to do it in just three words?

“Heartbreaking and uplifting.”

After reading 1923: A Memoir do you think you will read any other books in the same genre?

Well, there are two more chapters forthcoming in this series of Harry’s books. 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.”


Harry Leslie Smith’s loveahappyending author page

Harry Leslie Smith’s Website

To Buy 1923: A Memoir from Amazon UK in Kindle, Paperback or Hardback.

To Buy 1923: A Memoir on Amazon US in Kindle, Paperback or Hardback.

To Buy 1923: A Memoir from Barnes & Noble (Nook)


Link to: Melanie Robertson-King’s BlogCeltic Connexions

This Review Chair feature has been edited by on behalf of by Janice Horton and you can always visit me at my website


If you enjoy reading and would like to be in the spotlight as a Featured Reader on this page, please read the associate reader rules and apply. Our authors need readers and in particular they need feedback. As an Associate Reader you will go one step further and affiliate yourself with one or more of our exciting new Authors to make a real difference to their writing career by actively supporting them: spreading the word using your social media and review websites such as Amazon, Goodreads, etc, as well as your own blog. Remember, any reviews featured on the Review Chair will be used not just on this website but by the authors themselves when promoting their books, crediting you as an Associate Reader and Reviewer.


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