Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Aunt Susy's Boarding House by Joy Swan

Aunt Susy's Boarding House: The Story of a Girl Growing Up in Maine by Joy Swan is a newly published memoir of her life. This eclectic mix of anecdotes, is certain to be a treasured  piece of family history for Joy Swan to pass down for future generations of her family.  The reader can take a peek through time at the intimate details: the ups and downs of Swan's family history.  Beginning with the historical account of her family line during the time of the Mayflower, to the present time, the reader can follow the ancestry of the family tree and its eccentric family.

There is the painful story of infant loss of baby Simon, as recounted in chapter 3, "First Tragedy". After reading this vague account I was left with more questions than answers.  As a reader I wanted to know more information, but perhaps the details were unknown to the author who had been a child at the time. A brief chapter, one paragraph in length, "How I came to Be", is a lively excerpt of the author's own entrance into the world. ".....Mama, you have to let me marry Fred now. I am chick would be pregnant!...Yes, she would have to let her marry Fred Savage now! Her last chick would be leaving the nest before she even learned to fly!" (Swan, 2015 p.41) In the chapter "Hemorrhoid and Panties", Swan recounts the humorously tragic story of how Aunt Susy's husband died as a result of a surgical complication during a procedure for his hemorrhoids. In her grief, Suzy had too much to drink and was swinging her underpants in the boarding house. (Swan, 2015 p. 106) This is just one of many anecdotes shared of medical related tragedies making me feel that a good subtitle for this memoir would be medical mishaps at the turn of the century.  As a nursing student I wanted to know more behind the medical side of the medical tragedies and death the family experienced.  Overall, this 159 page book contains 63 short chapters-  short colorful anecdotes and selected poetry of the author's life memorialized in book format for future generations of her family. It would be wonderful if every family could have a treasure like this to pass on, as so many family stories are lost over time.  This quaint book is easy to read and simple in its conversational grandmotherly tone.

In the author, Joy Swan's own words, from the excerpt on the back cover: "I have learned that getting old means you can get away with a lot of things and be forgiven them as you get old. I can now break wind in public and keep right on walking without a hitch.  The lady behind me keeps right on walking without a hitch also- she thinks: that lady is old she doesn't know any better.  She doesn't know how much knowledge I have gained after living eighty four years and learning something new every day! Enjoy your book. "

In a courtesy author interview Joy Swan states that her book is "a true story from the 1800s through the 1940s. Old fashion[ed] Thanksgivings. Aromas of country cooking coming from Aunt Suzy's Boarding house would lead any hobo to Aunt Suzy's door.... Reading my book you will be with the folks... I have such a good memory and my different life deserves to be written down....Readers will not get board reading my story."

This book is available on Amazon and is published by Outskirts Press. As a blogger I received a copy for the purpose of writing a review.

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