It’s interesting for me to find the first review of my short story book ‘Forget Me Not’ on Amazon UK. Even more interesting is the fact that the few stories about life in East Germany seem to hit a nerve with this reviewer. Is it because there is so little known about it? Is it because people who lived through it, or escaped, never talked much about it? And why was that? Did life seem ‘almost normal’ at the time when we lived through it? And further, was that because it was a whole lot better than during the last months of the war with the Russians roaming about to find and rape girls or young women? What on earth is ‘normal’ about parents who are afraid to have a conversation around the dinner table at home? Because they may have been of a different opinion than the daughter who studied law and she might ‘report’ her parents? Because the growing young generation was brainwashed in the youth organisation (equivalent to the Hitler Youth) in schools and universities and they truly believed in Communism. But then there were the hundreds of thousands who escaped until the Berlin Wall was built over night and the whole country was ‘enclosed’ like a ghetto. Still, people risked their lives even after that.
I have made no secret out of the fact that every story in ‘Forget Me Not’ has a valid reason to be included in this ‘Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories’ and how each one will lead to discussions or deep thoughts of your own. Be it the wisdom of a grandmother to explain the unfair portrayal of ‘stepmothers’ in fairy tales, an un-expected ‘adoption’, the desperate wish for a baby, the triumph over conquering cancer, the turmoil of wars world-wide up to this very day, superstition, internet love and marriage in old age or surprising happenings during travel.
I will not attempt to review the ‘Review’ and let you judge for yourself:
By Ann Victoria Roberts on 9 Feb. 2016
A lovely collection of memories from Giselle Roeder. Childhood tales from her German family, circa WW2, to recent experiences in modern-day Canada, the stories reflect on life-lessons relevant to us all. The message that comes through is to listen to your inner self, and obey prompts that could lead to better things – prompts that might even save your life!
I found her reflections on the state of East Germany during the 1950s & 60s particularly informative. All most people know of that era was filtered by the TV news, so the author’s personal view gives it a whole new dimension.
‘Hope you’re not superstitious?’ relates an other-worldly experience that will find echoes with many people, myself included. And although I’ve never visited Hawaii – a couple of stories will no doubt prompt happy (and maybe no-so-happy?) memories amongst those who know the islands well.
The travel-tale to which I related personally comes towards the end of the book: ‘Too Bad it’s Canada’ – the title a quote from some anonymous visitor which made me chuckle. I was privileged to visit Vancouver some years ago, and remember its stunning situation, the breath-taking offshore islands and the warm welcome of local people. Some years before that, I was aboard a merchant ship visiting Tasu, one of the Queen Charlotte Islands – also mentioned by the author. Happy memories!
In a long and fascinating life, Giselle Roeder has achieved success from what was surely a most inauspicious beginning. That beginning was recounted in her memoir, ‘We Don’t Talk About That,’ a book I found profoundly moving.
The short stories in ‘Forget-Me-Not’ show just how far she has travelled since – in every sense. Short stories are more difficult to master than either novel or memoir – and I gather this collection is a first for the author, hence my award of four stars rather than five. But these are a light rendition of a long and fascinating life – ideal for taking on a journey!
…or have it on your night table and just read one story before going to sleep! I am surprised a busy writer like Ann Victoria Roberts has read and reviewed my short story collection. Maybe it was because of my memoir ‘We Don’t Talk About That’, the book she found ‘profoundly moving’. And she is not the only one who seems to be expecting the sequel and happens to get ‘Forget Me Not’ – which is only the ‘bridge’ to the sequel I am working on now. No more excuses! Most stories in ‘Forget Me Not’ should be part of it – but I wanted to tell them to give my readers something NOW and there are still so many more stories to fill more pages than I am allowed to write.
Thank you, Ann Victoria Roberts.