Rose Scott, author of “Threaten to Undo Us”, has submitted a review of my book “We DontTalk About That” which can be found here. Thank you, Rose.
Nikki Landis, a Goodreads author, reviewed my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That: An Amazing Story of Survival”
Her rating: 5 Stars.
Nikki Landis is an award winning author of about a dozen books. She is well known for her “Fight for Light Novels”, “The NightWatchers Saga” and the “Freedom Fighters Series”. In 2017 she was the proud recipient of the IPPY Gold Star for her latest book “Refugee Road”. I have just started to read it and am fascinated.
Nikki is not only a prolific writer, she also reads more than anyone I know, and reviews all the books on Goodreads. Plus, she is a wife and the mother of five boys (7 years to 18!) and works full time. How does she do it? Do her days have more than 24 hours? Oh, I forgot – the night also has 12! Funny! Thank you, Nikki, from all my heart.
Read Nikki Landis’s review:
Read in Aug 2017
Some stories must be told, no matter how disturbing, horrible, or unbelievable they may seem. Some truths devastate because you can’t imagine how they are possibly true. You DON’T WANT them to be true. How can such brutality exist? How can one individual possibly survive after so much horror? How much can the human spirit endure and bounce back from the brink of destruction and continue on?
This book, I think, is probably one of the most emotional and life changing stories I have ever read. It truly touched my soul. I have the utmost respect for the author and her courage, bravery, and willingness to step forward and tell the truth about the shocking and brutal events of her life. She is, WAS, a victim. Her family were victims. Her friends and neighbors. In fact, many German women were and yet they survived. They pushed forward. They endured the despicable and impossible, and they persevered.
This book is not an easy read. I had to stop often, take a breath or break, and come back to the story. Over several days I read and witnessed the horrific events that changed a nation and destroyed a country. As an American woman in 2017, what do I truly know of suffering? What do I know of survival, fighting with everything I have in order to make it through each day? What do I know of living in fear for my life or waiting for the next man to knock on my door, ordering me to disrobe? What do I know of losing all that I own, of being displaced without a home or country, and losing everything, including the people I love? What do I know of starvation?
The answer is simple. I do not. But by reading this story, I have an idea. My heart just aches. I’m devastated. I cannot imagine enduring for even one day what the author and these other women endured for months, years of their lives. How did they go on? How did they later marry and have families? How did not lose their very soul to such inhumane acts?
The story does not end there. The author takes us on a journey of self-discovery and the search for freedom. I found myself cheering her on throughout the book, hoping that she would finally find peace, love, and happiness. I don’t think you can give away spoilers in a novel like this. It’s a true account of suffering and perseverance, of losing everything and finding what truly matters, and because of that, I am happy to say I think the author found what she was looking for in the end.
Chronicling the first thirty or so years of her life, the author lays out life in the 1940’s and 50’s and her youth, her family, and life before the war. Once the war starts, it’s a shocking read. Be warned, this novel tells the brutal truth and is in parts almost too much, but only because of content. The way in which the books is written, in a narrative that feels like you are listening to a close friend, is the only way to get through the stories.
There is a lot of wonderful historical detail from life back in that era, landmarks, cities, geography, and much information about the war and its effects on the German people. For me this is one of the most interesting parts of the book. You hear much growing up about World War II and its effects on the world, the atrocity of so many lives lost, the hatred of the Jewish people, but I don’t think I can recollect much learning in school about the German people and their struggles. It’s wrong. We can’t forget as a society what happened. We can’t condone what happened. We can’t let it happen again.
WE CAN’T FORGET.
Stories like this must be told and published. They must be shared. They need to be read. What hope do we have for humanity if we forget, if the dust covers the words of these atrocities and God forbid, history tries to repeat itself? No, we can’t let that happen. And the author is right to share this story, to talk about what happened, and to ensure her words are written down for all eternity. In her own words, no embellishment, she describes the gritty and grueling aspects of her life from start to finish. There’s no other way the story could be written.
I have a much better understanding of history now. Such experiences must mark a person for life. This is a memoir I would recommend to everyone, but especially I will recommend to the women I know. It’s an emotional, courageous, and extraordinary story that MUST BE READ. I highly recommend purchasing this book and owning a copy for yourself. “We Don’t Talk About That” is truly an amazing story of survival.
Looking back on 2016 I am amazed how much I actually got done. I have been busy. My collection of short stories, “Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts, and Memories” was published in January 2016. It is a memorial to special people who have crossed my path – either in person or through their achievements. I dare to say that every single story carries some kind of message to the reader. At the very least it will make the reader think and maybe he/she feels like sharing his/her thoughts about the story with family or friends. It is about aging, adoption, blended families, babies, changing seasons, superstition, cancer, dogs, horses and other critters, escape, earthquake, flying, internet dating, island living, love and rape, roses, travels, war, and many other topics. It finishes with a beautiful fairy tale “The Weeping Angel” – for which, at one point, I received the First Prize in the form of another book: “Computers for Dummies.” Throughout the book, you find poems and pictures. A delightful book – perfect to give as a gift to YOUR special people, reminding THEM not to forget YOU. The easiest way to obtain this book is Amazon.ca.
The books I chose to read during 2016 have added greatly to my knowledge about history. Some of them upset me, robbed me of sleep since it was hard to believe people can be so blinded by promises, ultimately leading to a horrible war. One recurring thought was ‘do people never learn from the past?’ At the same time, I was crying over the fate of some people and keeping my fingers crossed for others to survive. As you can see, I prefer to read mostly “true” stories or history based on truth since that is what I write as well. The following are the books I read and since there are so many I will refrain from telling you about them. All are worth reading.
“All The Light I Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Pulitzer Prize, New York Bestseller list.
“The Witch of Napoli” by Michael Schmicker was a fun read.
“Goering” – The Rise and Fall of the notorious Nazi leader. By Roger Mansell. Incredible.
“The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls. A classic I had never read, but it is a ‘must read’.
“Moonrise” by Ann Victoria Roberts. This author has touched my emotions in many ways.
“The Rise of Nazi Germany” by Charles River Editors. I wanted to know more history.
The Gift “Awakening”, by J.P. McLean. Contemporary Fantasy, a new genre for me
- The Gift “Revelation”
- The Gift “Redemption”
- The Gift “Penance”
- The Gift “Betrayal
“POW # 74324” – Triumph through Adversity by Robert Stermscheg.
“Daffodils” by Alex Martin. An English love story set within WWI.
“The History of Germany From The Earliest Times by Bayard Taylor. Tough read!
“The Spy in Hitler’s Inner Circle” by Paul Pailole. The risks people took, unbelievable.
“Lunch with Charlotte” by Leon Berger. Unexpected happenings, finally talking WWII.
“How the (Bleep) Did I Get This Old” by Laverne H. Bardy. Need a good laugh? Get it!
“An Adventure on Two Continents” by Heinz H.G. Berger. A West Vancouver story.
“Journey of a Lifetime” by Trevor D. Cradduck. Not available for the general public.
There were a few other books. I remember the stories but I should have written down the titles. Plus, I read four substantial books in Germany in October (German language) and was fascinated by the content. I read several nights since I couldn’t sleep anyway. The time difference of nine hours is hard to overcome – your body is not fooled by the clock. The trouble is – when I got home to the North American Continent the same happened – in reverse! It’s said that for every ten years of your life it takes a day to re-adjust your body clock. C’est la vie!
April 23rd is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth 400 years ago.
I would like to share this link to The New York Review of Books with you – http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/04/21/how-shakespeare-lives-now/
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.
I hope I remember them all! Many were e-books – I could read them in a doctor’s waiting room, on the bus, in an airplane, on the beach and even in a coffee shop. My little Kobo is easy to read in dim light and surely easier to carry in my purse than a physical book. But I do love physical books! I love having my huge book case full of them, standing in front of it, touching the backs, reading the titles, remember the stories each one told. I still have some I want to read again, others – but not many – I haven’t read yet. Each year I sort out the ones I know I’ll not read again and donate them to the Rotary Book Sales Event. They hold one sale in spring and one in fall in a shopping mall. Last year they sold so many books they could bring close to $400,000.00 to the bank. Every cent goes for good causes.
With which book did I start out in 2015? I cannot follow a ‘timeline’ but I’ll mention the titles and authors and surely will give you my honest recommendation by placing little stars *** next to them. (Six stars mean I’ll read again) It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a different taste in topics – but we all do follow our hearts desire in what we choose, right? The one or the other book may have more or fewer stars on Amazon but this is me, personally.
- Louisa Elliot ******, Liam’s Story *****, The Master’s Tale *****, written by the English Bestseller writer Ann Victoria Roberts. I can just say one word: Engrossing.
- The Officer’s Code *****, The Versailles Legacy *****, The English General *****, The Ghosts of War *****. My opinion? You learn a lot of WW history while being fascinated by the private lives of the characters. These books by Lyn Alexander could be Canada’s answer to ‘Downton Abbey’. Really!
- The Night I Danced with Rommel ****, by Elisabeth Marrion. Enlightening.
- The Nazi Officer’s Wife ****, how one Jewish woman survived the Nazis in Germany. Written by Edith Hahn-Beer. Heart wrenching. One aspect of the Jewish survival you may never have known.
- In the Garden of Beasts *****, The American Ambassador in Hitler’s Berlin. Eric Larson weaves a compelling story based on an incredible amount of research. You can’t help but feeling ‘part of it’.
- A Woman in Berlin ***, a diary of a journalist trapped in Berlin during the last few days of WWII. Intriguing because the author remains ‘Anonymous’.
- Last Train to Berlin ****, an account of a PoW trapped in Russia – too useful to the authorities to let him go until four more years after WWII. Hans Peter Marland.
- The Gift: Redemption, book III of the Gift Legacy ****. I saw an excerpt and since kayakers were involved and the setting was Vancouver I read it. I had NEVER read any ‘Thriller’ before but I was ‘gripped’ by the flowing story. It even led me to read the next book of the ‘Gift Legacy’ – Pennance by the author J.P. McLean. What an imagination!
- Paris 1924 ***, a fascinating account of life in Paris by the same author of Wolves among Sheep ***** which I have read twice. James Kostelniuk has never been in Paris but reading along, you feel you are there!
- I was Hitler’s Chauffeur **** by Erich Kempke. It sheds a totally new light on Hitler. It ‘rattled’ me and kept me awake for a few nights, thinking instead of sleeping.
- Hitler – The Memoir of the Nazi Insider who turned against the Fuehrer by Ernst Hanfstaengle. After reading this book, starting at the very beginning of Hitler’s rise, I am flabbergasted by how little is really known.
- Edge of Eternity **** – the 3rd book in the trilogy by Ken Follett. The first two, Fall of the Giants ***** and Winter of the World ***** are books one can’t put down. This last one was a bit disappointing. Too much talk about sex when not quite appropriate. Maybe it is what many readers like? The story, set after WWII is based on reality and one relives what was happening.
- The Help ***** is a book I recommend highly. Kathryn Stockett tells a superb tale of a colored servant in the southern US..
- North of Normal **** is a shocker. A girl’s life, growing up within the ‘hippie’ culture – unbelievable for someone like me, never having had a taste of it. She made it to becoming an international model, wife and mother. I met her, sitting next to her at an author’s reading event. How could she have turned out so ‘normal’? This book is the memoir of the author Cea Sunrise Person.
Last but not least I had to re-read We Don’t Talk About That – An Amazing Story of Survival WWII. I needed to ‘refresh’ my mind for an important presentation at the university. I can’t believe I wrote this book. I still feel humbled by one of the reviewers on my website, who said ‘This book is not just good, it is very good.’
Every book I have read in 2015 added to my knowledge or enjoyment. Now, at the beginning of 2016, I am reading All The Light We Cannot See, by author Anthony Doerr, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It is considered one of the ‘best books of 2015’. “Moonrising”, Ann Victoria Robert’s newest book is on my Kobo. Can’t wait to read it. I love Ann’s mastering of the English language. Music to my ears.
There are so many more books I’d have loved to read but I am also a writer. I am told ‘the day has 24 hours and the night has 12’ – but for me, even 36 is not enough to get everything done I want to do.
My new book Forget Me Not – A Bouquet of Stories, Thoughts and Memories – will be available through Amazon etc. as e-book (Kindle, Kobo and more) as well as soft cover. It will hopefully be released within the next few weeks. It makes a terrific gift item (see the title!), contains over 50 stories, each one tackling a common problem from adoption, stepmothers, politics, war, cancer, internet love, dogs, travel, extra-ordinary people and more. All stories are carrying a special message inciting discussions and lend themselves for reading within a group.
Stay tuned for more.
Next to dogs books are my best companions. They don’t fight with me and when they ‘annoy’ me I can just close them and put them away. The material I have read might go around and around in my head; sometimes I understand but always I want to know more and I open them up again a day or a few hours later. Even a book I don’t totally like I will finish because I know there must be a reason the writer wrote it. I dissect the story. I sometimes think about how I would re-write it, or parts of it. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. I want to tell you of the books I have read so far this year. Most of them have a connection to my own book “We Don’t Talk About That”. My writing created an incredible thirst in me to know more about war history, especially WW I and WW II. So I started reading instead of writing my next book.
“The Officer’s Code”
Lyn Alexander’s way of telling a story puts you right into it. You identify with one of the characters and you become that person. In this book you re-live the life of a young English man who could not satisfy his father since he did not like to study law and take over the family practice. He failed and as punishment was sent to Germany to study in Heidelberg and “prove” himself. He married a German girl, changed his name to his mother’s German aristocratic name ‘von Schellendorf’ and fought on the German side during WWI. An incredible story based on fact and fiction .
This is the second of four books in what is known as “The Schellendorf Series” by Lyn Alexander. It puts us in the picture of a Germany in tatters and the impossible hardships imposed on the country by the ‘Versailles Treaty’ after the war is lost. The German Representatives argued the stipulations laid on Germany would be counter-productive. A young Austrian WWI corporal, Adolf Hitler, promised jobs and bread and peace for all Germans and his hypnotic speeches swayed many mistrusting Germans to vote for him because they had nothing to lose but everything to gain. The years between 1920 and 1939 lead to WWII.
Once you read those first two books you cannot help but want to read the third one. The establishment of Hitler’s ‘Thousand Year Reich” brought many changes. The old military, the Reichswehr, with the former generals in charge tried everything to stop the new developments but one after the other mysteriously disappeared or was killed. They also plotted to assassinate Hitler but he always got away. One of Hitler’s close allies established the “Brown shirts”, known as the SA which numbered in the hundred-thousands already during the 1936 Olympics. The young Englishman became a German General and deeply ingrained within him was “the Code of honour”. We see him struggle with blackmail by his birth country while once again fighting for Germany during WWII.
This, the fourth book in the ‘Schellendorf Series”, finally helps us understand a lot of what happened when the Allied Forces entered Germany. Imprisonment, lies, deceit, interrogations, and, to top it all off, the Nuremberg Trials where the blackmailing English arranged that the famous lawyer, the father of our by now beloved General defends him. His return to England, the ups and downs during the years after 1945, and his secret visits to Germany.
I never mentioned General von Schellendorf’s wife but she plays a huge part throughout all four books, love, deceit, lies, divorce, her re-marriage and abuse by her demented father. At the end of book four we hope for reconciliation and maybe a joint new venture in Heidelberg. Once you read these books and you travel to this wonderful city you’ll know it. These four books feel so “real” that you think you lived through it all. In time I’ll read them again.
Elisabeth Marrion wrote this heart wrenching memoir of her mother’s life. Married to a soldier who fathered a baby every time he was on leave, her mother had to look after and somehow provide food for five small children. Dealing with the bombing of her hometown of Hildesheim, and being a hands-on woman a lot of neighbors relied on her. When her husband was transferred to Africa to fight alongside General Rommel she was relieved of the scary thought of him being killed in Russia. As the story moves on General Rommel’s Regiment happens to be stationed in this city for a few days on their way to France and she was singled out by him to do the first dance during a party the towns-people organized to honour him.
Two authors, Edith H. Beer and Susan Dworkin told the story of Jewish women who married Nazi Officers to save their lives. In many cases the husbands had no idea they were Jews. These women were known as “U-Boats” or “Submarines” living normal lives when they were everything else but normal. This story is gripping, has been made into a movie, documentaries and has received worldwide accolades. It is hard to believe what the author, Edith, has endured during the time of the Nazi take-over of Austria to the end of the war living in the Russian occupied Germany. I had no idea that these women even existed and was touched to my deepest soul after reading this book.
Eric Larson does not need an introduction. In this book he tells the story of the American Ambassador to Berlin during the early years of Hitler’s reign. The book is based on hundreds of letters to the American President, the diaries of the daughter and one is overpowered by the incredible research Larson must have done over several years to write this book. It is rather a lengthy book and towards the end I felt as if I myself went through WWII again. Exhausted.
How I loved this book by Ann Victoria Roberts, a gifted writer! The novel is set in York in the 19th Century and involves a family drama that sometime just takes your breath away. Despite the fact that it has about 700 pages (e-book) I was sorry when it ended. Not a surprise to me when I found out that it sold over a million copies when it first came out. Luckily there was another book for me to read following this one, called
Also a big book and I tell you, this one occasionally makes your blood boil. How can a writer write books that you simply cannot put down? How can she make you identify and suffer with the protagonist? How does a brain like Ann’s work to come up with these tales just because she happened to find a small diary of a family ancestor? Each novel can stand on its own but read “Louisa” first…
Another Ann Victoria Roberts book – this one is based on her research about Captain Smith, Captain of the unsinkable “Titanic”. She portrays the rich and famous guests, the interactions of many of them, love triangles, affairs, and intrigues. When the ship hits the iceberg you can hear the cries, you will feel the cold water and you see the listing of the big ship from your life boat and finally see it disappear as if it had never been.
Jo-Ann McLean writes ‘thrillers’. I have never read thrillers and cannot recall how, or when, I read a couple of chapters of this book on Linkedin, Amazon (Look Inside) or perhaps came across Jo-Ann’s website. Because it involved kayaking I wanted to read more. The story is set in Vancouver and since I know and lived in this fair city I was intrigued. When I started reading I realized I had never ever read a book like it, totally fictional and an imagination I can only marvel at. Some scenes in it caused me to contact her (bless the Internet!) and ask what her family or her husband thinks about some of the scenes. This book is part of a series, the previous one is the “Gift Legacy” but I have not read it.
“North of Normal”
Cea Sunrise Person took seven years to write this shocking memoir of her childhood, growing up during the ‘counter culture’. Her grandfather moved the family from California to the North Country wilderness. They were growing pot, smoking and selling it, living off the land, fishing and wildlife. Periods of plenty changed with periods of hunger. Little Cea’s home was a tipi/tepee shared with her very young mother and a number of other adults who thought nothing of nudity, open sex, changing partners. Cea invented her own games and amused herself without contact with other children until she had to go to school. Seeing the first pair of underpants and a fancy frilly dress made her realize that there was another life out there and she had only one wish: To survive the crazy life she was living and her ‘crazy family.’ After her book was published her friends asked her: “How did you ever turn out so normal?”
“The Glass Castle”
I had no idea what living in the sixties for the people who chose to live the ‘free life’ was like and I must admit that the book “North of Normal” had deeply disturbed me. Friends, whom I told about it, encouraged me to read ‘The Glass Castle” – a similar book by Jeannette Walls. The language is not quite so vulgar because Jeannette’s parents were actually educated, but they chose a life of nonconformity, poverty and their children had to fend for themselves. When hungry the older two went through garbage bins and ate what others had thrown away. Their clothing was bought in Thrift shops. They were dirty, they smelled and other children did not want to have anything to do with them. Jeannette could be compared to Cea in ‘North of Normal’ as both girls were trying to get an education and create a better life. Both succeeded. Paramount bought the movie rights to this book. It has been a bestseller for years and Jeannette has been interviewed repeatedly.
This is the book I am re-reading now. It came out in April 2014, I have read it before, but I am surprised how it “gripped” me again. Another one of those books “hard to put down.” I am so sorry not to have more time to read. But I have to write. My readers are constantly reminding me and asking “when is the sequel coming out? Are you writing it? How far into it are you?”
I have given you a number of fantastic books to consider reading. None of them will disappoint you. So, – find a cozy corner and READ books – books – books. Live in a different world for a while, a different time zone, on a different continent or even a different dimension. Enjoy!
I have to share a very much appreciated review of my book “We Don’t Talk About That” from my good old friend, one who has written books and many essays himself, one who has started the first kayaking club in eastern Canada and tried to teach me to ski on Grouse Mountain on the west coast; one who has started and established architecture courses and taught at the university, involved in building an opera house and did all kinds of other incredible things. One thing we did together was a weeklong kayaking trip through the ‘Broken Islands’ starting in Ucluelet, B.C. on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
I will never forget how I carried all our supplies to the boat close to the ocean where we were to take off. Gerhard had left to find a parking place for his car. Returning on my second trip with another arm full of ‘stuff’ I saw hundreds of seagulls ripping into our food bags, nuts and dried fruit was all over the place. I had to fight them off while I saved what I could. When I finally had everything piled up next to the boat the ocean had left, – the ebb tide had set in and I stood next to the kayak on the sand watching the water retreat farther and farther. Quite a helpless feeling!
I will also not forget how we had a fishing line attached to the kayak and all of a sudden the paddling seemed harder. Wow! A good sized salmon was on the line and fighting to get off. As my friend started to reel it in it took just a moment and an eagle dove down and stole our supper. We had to cut the line, we had no choice. Camping on different small islands we harvested mussels and oysters, cooked them in ocean water and sometimes shared them with other campers.
Paddling towards a huge big rock off the coast we heard the howling of sea lions. As we came close one giant stood up and apparently gave a loud order and at least a dozen of them dove into the ocean and stood like a wall in front of us, bobbing up and down in the waves but never taking their eyes off us. I was scared and wanted to paddle away but Gerhard kept his course and only just during the last moment steered away. I am sure those beasts would have capsized our kayak and we would have drowned.
It was my most exhilarating and exciting kayak adventure in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes we had to fight huge waves but we made a terrific team as we were both experienced paddlers. Gerhard, an Austrian by birth knew the ways of the ocean while I was used to paddling on the Baltic Sea even though my kayak competitions were mostly on lakes and rivers of Germany.
Memories. And now Gerhard read my book. I was anticipating some critique from this widely read and educated man. I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for what he had to say:
Finally I purchased your book. I started reading and couldn’t put it down. It isn’t just good it is very good. It is gripping, even though I have heard much of the story from you over the past twenty years. It is good to see the story did not change. It is well organized so that one knows who is who as we meet them over the years of age, old rural bliss, looming disaster, cataclysm and redemption.
You may have started a new genre with this book. It is not often we encounter a book showing fortitude and heroism amongst the despised losers of a bitter war, together with kernels of humanism remaining amongst the unspeakable brutality of vengeful victors when they encounter the only ones left: the innocent. Everyone should read it.