Author Archives: sandradan1

About sandradan1

Novelist. I blog about writing, reading and everything to do with books and writing them at http://www.sandradanby.com/. Come and visit me!

#BookReview ‘The End of the Day’ by Bill Clegg #family #mystery

Three girls grow up living near each other in Wells, Connecticut. Dana. Jackie. Lupita. Each in a different social class. With or without wealth. With or without expectations. Privilege, no privilege. One betrayal touches their lives and has ramifications for the next generation. The End of the Day by Bill Clegg is about the fragility of loyalty when teenage bonds are tested by love, jealousy, indiscretions, secrets and lies. ‘To end a friendship, it just takes someone willing to throw it away.’ Because when a decision is taken, more than one life is affected. Bill Clegg

Clegg has written a genealogical story wrapped up in two timelines, the years not defined but basically the Sixties and the Noughties. An elderly woman, frail and confused, sets out from New York on an excursion. Another old woman wakes in her family home to a beautiful passage of memories. A taxi driver in Hawaii ignores the repeated messages left on her mobile phone. These three are connected by a youthful flirtation, a pregnancy, arrangements made and lies told, assumptions made. A fascinating story, characters so believable, but the details lacking in clarity – perhaps because so many lies have been told. In the Noughties are mother and son Alice and Hap. Hap’s life takes two momentous turns when his father is seriously ill in hospital, the same hospital where his wife has just given birth to their baby daughter. A little girl still, significantly, without a name.

The first half is a slow read with beautiful writing that at times edged towards the self-indulgent. The book, though not long, felt long. I wanted occasional clarity of story and shorter paragraphs. I was unclear about the different houses featured – the childhood homes of Jackie and Dana and the area in which they lived. Perhaps the author knows it so well he forgot to be clear for the reader. The story moves location and year without specification which can be disorientating.

In re-reading the notes I wrote after finishing the book, I found I had twice written ‘lacking clarity’. The story is a sad one, of connections made, lost, and unknown, but for me it could be more touching with a clearer narrative spine. That said, the story stayed with me days after I finished it – always a good sign. The parallels between the generations, the vulnerability of a baby dependent on adults for the truth of its origins, the duty to protect and the urge to run from an old life. An okay story wrapped up in exquisite writing.
BUY THE BOOK

If you like this, try:-
Beside Myself’ by Ann Morgan
The Orphan’s Gift’ by Renita d’Silva
Tainted Tree’ by Jacquelynn Luben

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#Genealogy #mystery THE END OF THE DAY by Bill Clegg #bookreview https://wp.me/paZ3MX-ij via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… @juliewassmer #adoptionstories #birthmother

In 1989, budding screenwriter Julie Wassmer went to meet a literary agent to talk about script ideas. She didn’t look twice at the secretary who served coffee that day. Twenty years earlier, teenage Julie had given birth to a baby daughter who was given up for adoption. The following day, typing a letter for her boss, the secretary recognised Julie’s name from her own birth certificate.

Julie Wassmer

Julie Wassmer [photo: juliewassmer.com]

Julie managed to hide her pregnancy from her parents until she went into labour. She was sixteen. “In my family, where I was the adored only child, falling pregnant to my boyfriend Martin when I was 16 was a disaster… Martin and I never assumed for a moment that there could be a happy ending. We were too poor, too working class, too young to build a family. Adoption was the only possibility.”

After spending ten days in hospital with her daughter Sarah Louise, Julie went home alone and returned to her A-level studies. She and Martin split up. She always believed Sarah Louise would get in touch, especially when the Adoption Act was passed in 1976 giving children the right to trace their parents. She was convinced Sarah Louise would look for her after her 18th birthday in 1988. Meanwhile, Julie wrote a script that was made into a film in 1989, and the meeting with the agent followed.

“There is no ground map that exists for such situations: we have had to feel our way towards a relationship over the past 20 years. She has a mother whom she dearly loves – that is not my role. Mostly I feel we are more like sisters; other times it feels as if we are best friends; occasionally it has felt like falling in love.”

Mother and daughter meet regularly. “Writing down our experiences in a book has been cathartic. And when Sara fell pregnant at 37, I was able to revel in her experience. Picking up my grandson for the first time brought us full circle.”

Julie WassmerBUY THE BOOK

Read Julie’s full interview with The Guardian and visit her website.

If you like this true story, read:-
George Dennehy 
Bob MacNish
Cat Stubbs 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
True #adoption story… @juliewassmer #birthmother https://wp.me/paZ3MX-fi via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#Genealogy #Mystery ‘The Orange Lilies’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin @NathanDGoodwin 

This is a novella, a short book which I wanted to be longer. Set at Christmas 2014, The Orange Lilies revisits Christmas 100 years earlier, the first year of the Great War, and follows the story of one man in the trenches with the Royal Sussex Regiment. Third in the series by Nathan Dylan Goodwin about his forensic genealogist Morton Farrier, it is a little different from its predecessors in that it focusses on Morton’s own story rather than that of a client. Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Morton knows he is adopted but has recently discovered a complicated family secret. So in an effort to build bridges and learn more about his ancestors, he and girlfriend Juliette travel to Cornwall to visit his Aunty Margaret and Uncle Jim. Over the festive break, Morton and Margaret trace official documents telling the story of Morton’s great-grandfather Charles Farrier, who fought with the Second Battalion, the Royal Sussex Regiment. However as records are uncovered, more questions appear. At the same time we are told Charles’s story in 1914, with its own mysteries, contradictions and secrets. Unknown to Morton, old and modern mysteries are inter-linked.

I love the formula of the Morton Farrier books, the combination of present and past, secrets and lies, the hunt for truth and puzzles solved. This book is a little different, I think for two reasons. First, I longed in the first half for more dynamic detail of Charles’s story rather than dry factual reporting. At the front of the book, the author explains that two of his own relatives fought with this regiment. At the end of the book, the author explains that the movements of the Second Battalion are recorded as faithfully and accurately as possible. It feels as if the history bound the creative hands of the author. The second difference is that Morton is researching his own family and so the emotional attachment is different. Unlike when he is searching for clients, there is no immediate danger to his life, property or loved ones.

I raced through this book, intrigued by the mystery of Charles and his young wife Nellie. If you are new to the Morton Farrier books, you will appreciate this novella better if you have already read the first two in the series.
BUY
Read my reviews of the first two Morton Farrier books, Hiding the Past, and The Lost Ancestor.

If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
Shadow Baby’ by Margaret Forster
Innocent Blood’ by PD James
Pale as the Dead’ by Fiona Mountain 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#Genealogy #Mystery THE ORANGE LILIES by @NathanDGoodwin https://wp.me/paZ3MX-5P via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… finding Joy #adoptionstories

This is a true story told by the adoptive mother of a mixed race boy, first fostered by the family from when he was five weeks old. “His birth mother was placing him for adoption, but the government of Guam was intent on finding someone within his extended family to adopt him. It was the culture. But at eight months of age, the parental rights were terminated and the adoption process began. At age two he legally became ours.” All identities are protected in this story.

heart to heart adoptions

[photo: heart to heart adoptions]

As their son grew, his parents talked to him about his birth mother and how one day he might like to find her. ‘Not yet’, he replied. When he was twenty, he was ready. “All we had was a name and a phone number – and we weren’t even sure about the number,” explains his adoptive mother. “But sitting on his dresser was a slip of paper with the information we were able to find. He knew that when he was ready, we would support him in finding his birth mother and making that call.”

He was concerned about the shock a call from him would cause, and so his adoptive mother agreed to make the first contact. “He wanted me to thank her for him. To thank her for life and for loving him enough to give him his best chance; and he wanted to know about his heritage. Being a mixed race, he wanted more details. So, I called with those intentions – and my own agenda too. You see, for twenty-one years we had prayed for her.”

That phone call brought Joy, the birth mother, back in touch with her son and with his adoptive family.

Read this adoptive mum’s story in full.

If you like this true story, read:-
Heather Katz 
Tom Pickard 
Oksana Masters 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
True #adoption story… finding Joy https://wp.me/paZ3MX-eR via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

A #genealogy #mystery ‘The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing’ by @mspaulsonellis

A group of Great War soldiers is waiting for orders. During the last skirmishes of the war, men are still dying. Will the men receive orders to retreat or advance? Who will live or who will die? There are two strands to The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis and the title refers to the second. A contemporary man in Edinburgh, an heir hunter, finds a pawn ticket amongst the possessions of Thomas Methven, an old soldier who died alone. Mary Paulson-Ellis
This is a detailed story with many layers and many characters introduced as the two strands are told and hesitantly connected. At times the detail became confusing with so many descriptive repetitions I found myself skipping forwards. Paulson-Ellis writes scenes so well – the soldier’s gambling scene with the chicken is totally believable, and her portrayal of the foundling school in NE England is heart breaking. As Solomon tracks the life story of the deceased soldier, we see flashes of his own story, orphaned at seven and sent to live with his grandfather. Though interesting I found this distracting, it took me away from the story of the soldiers and added even more characters and family trees to remember.

The message is that the debts of the past do not disappear. Captain Godfrey Farthing is waiting, always waiting; to live to die, to advance, to retreat. He is simply trying to keep his men safe to the end of the war, which they suspect may come at any time. But Farthing’s intentions may be wrecked by enemy attack, by orders to attack, or by his own men themselves who are confined and bored. ‘A strange peace was coursing through his veins; that terrible calm that comes when a man knows the end is coming, but not in the way he had imagined when he began.’

Gambling is a continuous theme throughout the WW1 strand, and I lost track of the treasures gambled, won and lost, coveted, stolen and hidden. There are 11 soldiers involved, surely too many. Like The Lord of the Flies, the boredom of the men, their jealousies, petty rivalries and guns come to dominate their world, as if the war is already over. The treasures they gamble can be the smallest thing which to us may seem irrelevant but in war is crucial. Not monetary value as known at home, but representing an emotional or practical value.

Different rules apply during wartime and items that are significant then are cast into the spotlight when they survive across the generations to be found by modern day relatives. I admit to confusion about who was related to who and perhaps the cutting of a few peripheral characters would help. Given my interest in family history and WW1, I expected to love this book but longed for a firmer editing hand.
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If you like this, try:-
File Under Family’ by Geraldine Wall
Fred’s Funeral’ by Sandy Day 
Hiding the Past’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE INHERITANCE OF SOLOMON FARTHING by @mspaulsonellis #genealogy #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-em via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Using the #1939Register #familyhistory

The obvious place to start when researching previous generations of your family is the Census. Unfortunately, the UK’s 1931 Census was destroyed by fire during World War Two, and no Census was taken in 1941. But in 1938 the British Government announced a National Register would be taken to assess war needs and to issue identity cards. The records of 41 million citizens were taken. These records are now available at Find My Past.

The 1939 register

The 1939 register [photo: Find My Past]

The information gathered in the 1939 Register was not only used for war planning but was also used after the war in the founding of the National Health Service. Forms were issued to 41 million people. Enumerators visited every household in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to collect the names, addresses, marital statuses and other key details of every civilian in the country. Identity cards were issued on the spot. It was a legal requirement to carry an identity card from this time until 1952.

If the person you are searching for is not listed in the Register, it is likely they were already serving in the military. You can search military records at the National Archives which has a number of research guides about finding members of the Armed Forces.

This post was inspired by Laura Berry’s article ‘Missing from the Census’ in the April 2016 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Was your relative a VAD nurse in the Great War?
Where to start your #familyhistory search
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ 

Sandra Danby

 

I used the 1939 Register when I was writing Sweet Joy, the third adventure in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. Watch the book trailer.

Start reading the ‘Identity Detective’ series of #adoptionreunion mysteries with Ignoring Gravity.

★★★★★ “I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”
When you don’t know who you are any more, it’s time to ask questions. Will Rose Haldane like the answers she hears or wish she’d never asked? #secrets #mystery #family #KU BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How to search for records using the 1939 Register #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7Q via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… @samfuterman #adoptionstories

American actress Samantha Futerman – she played Satsu Sakamoto in Memoirs of a Geisha, and starred in and directed Twinsters, a documentary about finding her twin sister – was born in Busan, South Korea in 1987. Her birth name was Ra-Hee Chung. She was later adopted by her American parents, Jackie and Judd Futerman and went to the New York Professional Performing Arts High School.

Samantha, growing up in America, and her twin sister, Anais Bordier, growing up in France, did not know of the other’s existence. This misconception lasted for twenty-five years until they found each other in 2013 via social networking services. Both had been adopted shortly after birth. Futerman decided to make their cinematic encounter into a film. With co-director Ryan Miyamoto, she filmed the reunion, starting with the sisters’ first encounter on Facebook messenger chat, to their first face-to-face meeting in London. “We weren’t trying to do anything but tell an honest story,” said Futerman. “We weren’t trying to please anyone but we’re happy that it came out with positivity.” This film became Twinsters.

Samantha Futerman

Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier

The sisters had different adoption experiences. Speaking about adoption in general, Anais said, “I hope they understand that a kid is a kid no matter what. They should be happy that their family accepted them and loved them. To parents who are adopting children, I’d say they’re really brave. They’re brave to understand what being a parent is. It’s the same as just being a regular parent. To parents who gave their children away, they’re the bravest of them all. It’s the hardest thing. I hope our biological parents are happy. I want to thank them for choosing to wish for us a better life.”

Samantha added, “It takes a lot to not get rid of a child. It takes a lot of courage. I can’t imagine what that pain is like. For new adoptive parents, congratulations and good luck on this journey of parenting. For adoptees, know that you’re not alone. Don’t forget that you’re unique and there are many people out there to support you.”

Samantha Futerman
BUY THE DVD
Watch the ‘Twinsters’ trailer.
Read Samantha’s story in full.

If you like this true story, read:-
George Dennehy 
Whitney Casey
Dave Lowe 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
True #adoption story… how @samfuterman found her twin sister https://wp.me/paZ3MX-eH via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#Genealogy #mystery ‘The Love Child’ by Rachel Hore

The Love Child by Rachel Hore is not just an adoption story of birth mother and daughter, it is a story of women’s lives between the wars when shame and public expectation, not love, governed family decisions. In 1917 Alice Copeman, a 19-year old nurse, falls in love with a soldier home on leave. They expect to marry but he is killed. No one else knows of their relationship, it is wartime and everything happened so quickly. But Alice is pregnant. Rachel Hore

Mourning for Jack, Alice is forced by her father and stepmother to give the child up for adoption. In the Essex seaside town of Farthingsea, Edith and Philip Burns long for their own child. When they adopt a baby girl Irene, they expect their family to be happily complete. But Irene feels different from her parents and grows frustrated at the lies told about her birth; in particular she struggles to connect with her mother Edith and often feels rejected. At school she is bullied. At home she feels second rate to her younger brother, conceived by Edith and Philip after they adopted Irene. Things improve for Irene when she makes friends with a boy from the disreputable artistic part of town; Tom lives with his single mother and he too is different. Both Tom and his mother are positive influences on Irene.

This is a story told in two strands – Alice and Irene – first as each makes her own way in the world, and then as their paths come closer together. Alice’s story – qualifying as a doctor and working as a GP – is fascinating and a glimpse of a time when female doctors were starting to appear. Irene is also independent, leaving Farthingsea to work in London at an art gallery. In these inter-war years, it was still difficult for independent women to make their own way. Old-fashioned standards and expectations prove a challenge for both Alice and for Irene and often at the hands of other women.

A little slow to start, not helped as the storyline jumps around from year to year, it settled down halfway through. At times I confused Irene’s adoptive mother Edith with Alice’s stepmother Gwen, both are sharp-edged women whose words can wound.

This is a novel of love, separation, shame and mother and daughter dynamics; it ultimately shows how the road to love can take many diversions and twists along the way. Both Alice and Irene are rather self-contained and defensive, afraid of being hurt, but they are also capable of being loved if they allow their self-protection to drop. This is a reflective and sensitive portrayal of the adoption dilemma when the hunger of one individual for the truth may cause pain to others.

A note about the cover; I could see no link between the story and a rowing boat at sunset.
BUY THE BOOK

If you like this, try:-
The Marriage Certificate’ by Stephen Molyneux
‘Beside Myself’ by Ann Morgan 
Shadow Baby’ by Margaret Forster 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE LOVE CHILD by Rachel Hore #genealogy #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-eX via @SandraDanby

Surname research #adoptionreunion #familyhistory

Do you know anyone with the same surname as you? I have only ever met one other Danby, so I was curious to explore the roots of my name.

Danby village

Map showing Danby village [photo: Wikipedia]

As an experiment, search on Google for your surname. I did, and these were the top five entries:-
Danby, a village in North Yorkshire, 44 miles from where I grew up;
A tourist guide to the village of Danby;
Plumbing and heating engineer, B Danbys. Based in Hull, 38 miles from where I grew up;
The Duke of Wellington pub in the village of Danby, North Yorkshire;
… and local community website Esk Valley, where the village of Danby is located on the North Yorkshire Moors.

Danby village

Danby village [photo: dukeofwellingtondanby.co.uk]

So, my surname is anchored in Yorkshire. This is a light-hearted search, my next stage is to investigate the surname resources online. If you are researching your surname, try these websites. The members of The Surname Society, experienced genealogists, study single surnames in depth, collecting detailed information on a global basis.

The Guild of One-Name Studies is a group of family historians who compile surname studies, which seek all occurrences, past and present, of a single surname, anywhere in the world.

The Internet Surname Database is an online database of surnames and their variant spellings, the country of origin, the original word from which the surname may have originally derived, interesting historical examples, and earliest proven records.

For a list of all one-name studies and databases, start with UK BMD.

Select Surname List is a simple, easy to use reference for more than 800 common surnames, their derivation and regional, UK, European and global meanings.

Out of curiosity, I Googled Rose’s surname – Haldane – from Ignoring Gravity. Here are the top three entries of almost 2.9million results including:-
Architectural joinery company Haldane UK;
the Wikipedia entry for JBS Haldane, a British naturalised Indian scientist;
and another Wikipedia entry, for Richard Haldane, 1stViscount Haldane [below].
A simple demonstration of the wealth of information available, which is be at once a plus and a minus for researchers. The data may include a clue, an answer, or may become a major distraction with multiple dead ends.

Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane

Portrait of Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane [photo: Wikipedia]

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
The reality of #adoptionreunion
Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks
Check your local records 

Sandra Danby

★★★★★ “I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”

Start the ‘Identity Detective’ series of #adoptionreunion mysteries with Ignoring Gravity. When you don’t know who you are any more, it’s time to ask questions. Will Rose Haldane like the answers she hears or wish she’d never asked? #secrets #mystery #family #KU BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Researching your surname #adoption reunion #familyhistory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-7J via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

There’s still time to order a signed paperback for #Christmas

Don’t worry… there’s still time to order Christmas presents for your book-loving family and friends. If you know someone who loves stories about family mysteries, sagas, secrets and a touch of romance, then they’ll love the ‘Identity Detective’ series. Why not give them a signed paperback copy of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ or ‘Connectedness’? Simply click the links below to order at my website. Payment is quick and secure by PayPal. Using the online form, it’s simple to specify your personalised dedication. It couldn’t be easier! Available in the UK only. Christmas

‘IGNORING GRAVITY’
ROSE HALDANE IS CONFIDENT ABOUT HER IDENTITY. SHE PULLS THE SAME FACE AS HER GRANDFATHER WHEN SHE HAS TO DO SOMETHING SHE DOESN’T WANT TO DO, SHE KNOWS HER DNA IS THE SAME AS HIS. EXCEPT IT ISN’T: BECAUSE ROSE IS ADOPTED AND DOESN’T KNOW IT
Ignoring Gravity connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister Lily. Then just when she thinks there can’t be any more secrets…
ORDER ‘IGNORING GRAVITY’

‘CONNECTEDNESS’
TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALSO HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING
Connectedness is a tale of art, adoption, romance and loss, moving between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain and birthplace of Pablo Picasso.
Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane – who we first met in Ignoring Gravity – to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.
ORDER ‘CONNECTEDNESS’

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Give a signed copy of IGNORING GRAVITY or CONNECTEDNESS as a #Christmas gift https://wp.me/paZ3MX-gQ via #AdoptionStoriesblog