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Angela and Kevin move to Florida to take care of her parents and sister. While there, her mother and sister die and her father has to be placed in a nursing home.
How many losses can Angela endure? When Angela finds out her alcoholic sister, Martha, is sponging off their aging parents in Florida and making herself a problem they are now far too old to deal with, Angela must persuade her husband to give up all they have in New York and move south to help out. Struggling with new jobs, a new climate and the impossible Martha, Angela and her husband, Kevin, find their nerves becoming more and more raw and their lives more and more strained. They never had to deal with anything like this in their peaceful life in New York.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, Angela's mother dies. Angela turns to her husband for support, but in the cruelest turn of fate, he too suddenly passes away. All alone, except for the helpless Martha, Angela must now gently coax her failing father into a nursing home. How does she cope? How will she fare when her need to act has passed and, alone, she must quietly face her losses?
"The tide rolled in and was sucked back, over and over, leaving tiny sand crabs scurrying over the wet, glistening sand. Angela inhaled crisp air before she sifted some of the contents of her plastic box into the sand. Kevin had told her months ago that he had wanted to be buried here. She came to honor his wishes."
An Emotional Story of Loss and Survival
By Sarah Moore of Writers in the Sky
I would like to begin this review by asking the readers a few questions. Have you ever experienced a tense relationship with a close member of your family because they were making poor decisions in their life or simply due to differences in personality? Have you watched someone you love suffer from an agonizing illness and felt helpless in not being able to ease their pain? Do you struggle to find happiness and fulfillment in your romantic relationships? I imagine that many of you were able to answer "yes" at least one. Let's try one more. Do you strive to find happiness and contentment for yourself and your loved ones despite all of the challenges that life may bring? Hopefully, we can nod our heads in agreement with that one. With all of the issues mentioned above featured in the new release by Barbara Fifield, "Photographs and Memories," this book can provide points of connection for all of us.
In what the author admits is a loosely autobiographical account of relationships and events in her life, Photographs and Memories tells the story of a woman named Angela who must move to a completely new part of the country, confront her alcoholic sister, tend to the ever-increasing needs of her elderly sister, accept the mortality of her beloved husband, try to strengthen the relationships within her blended family, and face the future alone. And, she tackles all of these significant life changes over the course of only a couple of years.
Barbara Fifield does a wonderful job capturing the complicated situation in which many women of the "Baby Boomer" generation are finding themselves. With parents now living quite a few years past retirement age, children are often responsible for arranging the long-term care that will meet the physical and psychological needs of Mom and Dad. At the same time, these same women are trying to maintain relationships with adult children and, as is the reality in today's society, perhaps fostering second marriages and the new extended family that these unions create. Fifield acknowledges that she has lived through every one of these situations. That fact that she is choosing to share her very real struggles and triumphs through the fictionalized Photographs and Memories makes the novel even more compelling.
Whether or not you are a member of Fifield's generation and facing those unique circumstances, I believe that you will be able to relate to the messages that Photographs and Memories sends about family, love and the will to be a survivor. Despite all of the painful hardships that Angela endures over the course of the book, we leave her on the last page as a woman filled with hope and as someone who is looking forward to the future. Having dealt with some difficult and painful circumstances in my own life over the past year, Photographs and Memories offered me an important reminder that we all have a choice about how we face tomorrow and who we choose to be by our side when we do so.
I have now had the opportunity to read three books by Barbara Fifield and in all instances I have been struck by her honesty and her strength. Even though all three of her titles have been quite different from one another in genre, Fifield's dedication to showing the complexities that come with being a woman has been evident in everuy instance. In Photographs and Memories, readers will share the journey of one wife, mother and daughter who is determined to create the best and most meaningful life possible, even in the face of frequent and devastating loss. Hard to imagine a more realistic portrayal of strength than that!
A fine choice and very highly recommended.
Midwest Book Review
When you're trying to support too many others, you find yourself in need of support yourself. "Photographs and Memories" is the story of Angela, faced with a deadbeat sister, her ailing parents, and more, it all seems like too much for her to handle. A story that will ring true for many women, "Photographs and Memories" is a fine choice and very highly recommended.
Photographs and Memories by Barbara Fifield
Reading at the Beach:
Very intense story about love, loss and dealing with family members that are acting in ways that are burdensome. I love that the book takes place in Florida. I really enjoyed the characters and thought the author did a wonderful job of bringing them to life and making the reader either like them or not. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who has ever had to deal with an unruly family member, or the loss of a loved one.
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