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Amazon 5 Star Reviews:
(I was thrilled to receive this 5 Star review from Barbara Brabec, best selling author, speaker and professional editor.)
“A remarkable writing achievement by a first-time author”
This book pays tribute to the author’s great-grandmother, Ethel Van Wagnen, who wrote three journals in the 1920s that documented her life and life-long friendship with Graff Gawne. Ethel was a good writer with an excellent grasp of language and grammar, so Lewis could have simply published that writing and had an interesting family memoir. But her writing instincts obviously told her that she needed to do more than that to have a book with wide appeal.
In challenging herself to imagine Ethel’s childhood years from clues in her journals, coupled with her own extensive research as discussed in the Preface, Lewis has created a sweet story of love and friendship that combines both fact and fiction. In a heart-grabbing opening chapter, she tells us how Ethel might have told the story of Graff’s horrific loss of his wife in 1920, and then we begin to read Ethel’s 1921 journal written eight months later. As the book’s story unfolds, it periodically flashes back to the 1880s to show us how Ethel and the same people she is writing about were living forty years earlier. The interesting and well-written dialogue in these chapters help us read between the lines in Ethel’s journals, and more than a hundred photographs let us see people and places mentioned in her writing.
One of my takeaway quotes from this book is from chapter three: “A word spoken, or a simple act of love, may be carried with someone for a lifetime.” Clearly Ethel’s journals, which she called “little books”, were written not only for herself, but as a gift for Graff so he would have a remembrance of their happy times together as he tried to get through his grieving journey. She knew that if she didn’t write this story, no one else would, and she went to great lengths to document many details because she knew how easily they could be forgotten in years to come.
I applaud Ethel for preserving her life story in writing, and congratulate Linda Lewis for publishing this beautiful story of enduring love and friendship. I believe this book will touch the heart of anyone who reads it, while also prompting readers to wonder about the little-known lives of earlier generations of their own family. If they are lucky enough to have the writing of a grandparent or great-grandparent that tells what life was like in those days, that writing should be treasured and handed down in the family so their history is never lost.
Barbara Brabec, author of: “Marcella’s Secret Dreams and Stories: A Mother’s Legacy ~ see website: http://www.barbarabrabec.com/secret-dreams-and-stories-BOOK-pg.htm
5 Stars from Gayle Larson Schuck ~ Author of “By the Banks of Cottonwood Creek” and “Secrets of the Dark Closet”
This utterly charming story takes you on a journey back to the 1920s. Author Linda Ann Lewis based the book on her Great-grandmother’s journals. Ethel Van Wagnen was a 48-year-old Michigan wife and mother when her childhood sweetheart comes back into her life. Graff Gawne has suffered another tragedy in his life, and Ethel decides to help her old friend overcome his grief.
Much of the story centers on the visits between the Van Wagnen family and Graff, including camping trips. Does a spark of romance exist between Ethel and Graff?. One wonders, especially when they kiss on the lips! We’re also left to interpret Ethel’s emotions when Graff marries a younger woman and takes her on their second camping trip.
I enjoyed the wonderful word pictures of daily life and travel. Cars were still a novelty and many roads weren’t yet paved. On their trips, they would “step into the car” and routinely need to stop and put water in the radiator or change a flat tire.
Photos used in the original journals add charm of the book. The steadfast values passed down through the family are heartwarming. It was a pleasure to get a glimpse into the past through Ethel’s eyes.
For Gayle Schuck’s books, see her website: http://gaylelarsonschuck.com/
> 5 Stars – Jeffery J. Yorke – “Outstanding book and read – a true story of committed friendship between two lifelong friends.”
> 5 Stars – Adam L. – Great first few chapters! Can’t wait to finish it!”
> 5 Stars – Michelle – This is a wonderful book about the younger days of my grandfather’s life and my grandmother’s as well. The photos, stories and the entire book will be a cherished keepsake for my family for generations to come. Thank you so much Linda!
More reader’s comments:
> Greg Bullen, Host of “Off the Bookshelf” on WMPC Radio 1230 AM – “It’s a beautiful book!”
**Mike Gee (Linda’s brother) “If Mom and Dad were to read your book, they would be so proud of you.”
>Judith C. – “I loved it and feel like I am back in the good old days.”
>Margo C. – “Excellent read! I felt like I was watching everything unfold.”
>Judi L. – “Great job Linda! Your book was wonderful and I really enjoyed it.”
>Joy B. – “I’m reading today and loving it!”
>Sherrie A. – “Finished your book and loved it!”
>Terry B. – “Absolutely loved it! Writing style suits me to a T. When is the next volume coming out?”
>Holly D. “Impressive!”
>Janice B. – The book is well-written and keeps my attention. The pictures are a very important part of the story.”
>Sheila B. – “I just finished reading your book. I loved it. It was very interesting and fun to read about towns that I have been to, but years before I was born.”
>Jan J. – “Love your book. Reading it again.”