Bittersweet Memories

Bittersweet Memories ISBN: 9781933826523, PMI Books a novel by Lynn Osterkamp.

Plot: The protagonist, Anna’s family has strong roots in Helena, Montana where her grandfather, Edmund Weller, found gold in 1883 and began the family that became ranchers, lawyers and politicians. Her father started Weller & Associates in 1940 which she joined in 1966 after graduating from law school followed by her brother Dan in 1970. She went on to become a judge and now is 73-year-old judge retiree caring for her husband Jerry who is quite frail and in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. She has just lost her dearest friend Martha with whom she has been inseparable except for the years they were at different colleges. They had returned, married their hometown boyfriends and began their adult lives, much of which were the mundane activities associated with life of marriage and professional activity – Martha’s family were in banking. Along with their constant relationship, Anna’s children, their spouses and their children, and brother Dan constantly remained in close contact. Unfortunately her sister Sandra became a Nun and would not even speak with her and another brother Ned and gone to the west coast, became a neuroscience professor and also completely lost contact with the family. The loss of these siblings, how and why it occurred and the reactions of family members at the time as well as of a much later period are presented in some detail from their point of view as well as that of Anna who always has indulged in positive, although as we learn, often not quite correct memories. The story culminates in a quite thorough family discussion of the surprisingly positive result of Ned’s extensive use of his training, of Sandra’s ultimate reaction and Anna’s final acceptance of the fact that every family may not be able to attain the beautiful family existence as she remembers pictured on TV for the Walton’s or similarly portrayed groups.

Discussion: The author has set forth a tale that, although somewhat depressing, many readers will find quite enchanting. Her characters belong to a closely knit family but are interestingly portrayed as being quite diverse in their attitudes, actions and reactions and neuroscientist Ned’s device, along with all accompanying details and discussion, presents an intriguing basis upon which to build the tale. Regrettably, knowledgeable hunters and mystery devotees will be disturbed by the number of unanswered questions that arise from this basic element of the story.

3* Depressing but enchanting for many; numerous questions for hunters and/or mystery buffs

Our Eternal Curse, ANOTHER TRIBE

Our Eternal Curse, ANOTHER TRIBE, A historical, mystery war story e-book by Simon Rumney.

Plot: After a quote: “Racism is a virus that can only be spread by us”, the story opens with the battle being fought at Shiloh in April 1863, a fact that was of no importance to Julii because “she had not yet met Captain Robert Calhoun, the man who would teach her the white man’s language.” And “She was blissfully unaware that each step (she was taking) was taking her closer and closer to unimaginable heartache…” as she followed the path she had been following almost every morning as a papoose on her mother’s back or on foot, almost every morning of her eighteen years. She is one of the last members of the small Koasati tribe banished by the parent tribe and the Cherokee Nation to a hidden valley known as “a bad spirit place” in Tennessee. Julii’s grandparents were the original inhabitants banished because they had persisted in marriage against all dictates. The small sub-tribe had avoided the American government’s “trail of tears” that had banished all Indians from the eastern states because they literally had not been known to exist. While walking, Julii hears unusual thunder-like sounds with no clouds in the sky and when she arrives at the creek she sees a pink man in unusual clothes who has fallen from his horse with his broken leg caught in the stirrup – none of which she understands, but releases him, gives him water and finally is able to get him to her village where she nurses him not only for the leg but additionally a severe and infected head wound. During his recovery, the reader discovers that she is an extremely intelligent person with remarkable powers of learning and assimilation, and although as a Southerner and racially biased, he still manages to teach her a considerable amount of English. Upon his recovery, she accompanies him back to Atlanta. On the trip he becomes enamored and they indulge in heavy sexual activity. Upon arrival, she is treated as other non-whites, he is court-martialed for deserting his command at Shiloh, her testimony is unacceptable because the prosecutor says she is lying about the short time she had been able to learn the language, there are no Indians left in the eastern states, and besides she is an Indian and no better than the other non-white residents. He is convicted and she is abandoned only to be saved by an Italian Count who detests the manner in which the white population treats anyone not of their color. Also as the largest supplier of armament for the Confederacy through his modern fleet of steam blockade runners, no one interferes with him. He believes and then discovers, that she actually is a reincarnation of a member of his family going back to the pre-Roman era and the story evolves as Julii continues to learn and with her tremendous intellect becomes involved not only in strengthening his business, but for revenge devises a plan to defeat the Confederacy. Ultimately she obtains her revenge on the abominably racist southerners while dishearteningly discovering that many of the Northern Union officers are no better and she pays a highly significant price for her actions.

Discussion: The story moves very slowly and simplistically through the early stages of the book, but eventually gains momentum to provide an interesting tale of realism intermingled with fantasy, revenge, reincarnation and retribution mostly incorporated in the historical settings of Atlanta and Savannah during the Civil War. It provides fascinating recall of similarities in historically relevant mistaken war maneuvers and sets forth interesting conjecture on the loss of Vicksburg and of Sherman’s famous/infamous March to the Sea. And finally to sum up the author’s intent, from this reviewer’s perspective, is to provide a story that not only strongly censors racism but also weaves the tale of a young woman who is destined to endure: “Life was never supposed to be something predictable and safe or “normal”. Life is a series of uncontrollable and unfinished events. Longing for the day when everything returns to normal was simply a vain hope. Normal was chaos and the only way to find happiness within chaos was to accept it. To surrender to it, to live amongst it. To let it take its course. To allow events to be unfinished.”

Conclusion: A slowly developing tale providing multiple emotions that can, or cannot, be embraced, and at a level determined by, the reader. A caveat MUST be offered for individuals who find accepted verbalization of the day too offensive as it is presented by the author.

3* Slowly developing emotional tale requiring caveat described.