Today's guest author's latest book, Les Parisiennes how the women of Paris lived, loved and died under the Nazi Occupation is a blend of interviews and diaries and letters. I'm pleased to introduce author Anne Sebba, and her thoughts "On Grandmothers."
Please send Anne an email and welcome her to the book clubs:
By Anne Sebba
By the time I knew my grandmother she was in her seventies, large with arthritic hands, unfashionable clothes and interested only in cooking and gardening. I knew vaguely about her glamorous past; that as Lily Black she had been a popular musical hall singer and dancer, famous for her beauty, her voice and her long red pre-Raphaelite hair. So beautiful in fact that she first earned a living when she left school at 14 as an artist's model. I have admired the results on Liverpool Town Hall ceiling, where she is seen in several revealing poses, semi-clothed. But she married at 21 and gave up this other life so completely that it was almost never mentioned. I was too young to ask her about it, let alone to probe. But one story all the family knew was that when she started to appear at Covent Garden in pantomime she trod the boards with the then unknown Charlie Chaplin who, she always told us, proposed to her, but she turned him down. 'No prospects!' she said, 'The whole idea was to marry someone who would help you get off the stage and live a different sort of secure life'.
I write about her exploits occasionally, whenever I discover something about her glorious five years on the stage or find a song that was written especially for her. But nothing can make up for her telling me herself what it was like at just sixteen to be travelling around the country, earning your own living. I never asked.
Now I am a grandmother myself I have started wondering how do my four young grandchildren see me? No doubt as a crazy person who goes tearing all around the world talking about her books! My five year old granddaughter is excited when she spots my latest book in a shop--after all it is dedicated to my grandchildren partly because I hope they all grow up with a love of history and a sense of being part of a very long chain. But also because I owe much of my latest book to other grandchildren prodding their grandmothers not to die without telling their story of living with the enemy, a story until now they had kept to themselves often feeling the world was not interested. How wrong could they be!
Email Anne and say hello, email@example.com
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.