Just imagine yourself sitting in a bright, cheery kitchen, drinking coffee with your next-door neighbor, who waxes suddenly nostalgic and starts recalling incidents from his or her childhood. Then, your friend steps back even farther in time, and seems compelled to relate to you all the events, momentous and not-so-momentous, that shaped their life.
This is the grist of the Silver Tales series. In Book One, Ms. Mayne has collected five unique, though eerily similar, autobiographical stories, written by everyday people over the age of fifty, with very different backgrounds. They each went through some part of their formative years in the so-called idyllic "Fabulous Fifties" - the rock-'n-roll era.
There's Lauren, born and raised on a Midwestern farm, as many were in the late thirties in America's agriculturally-based economy. She was victimized by her own brother when only ten, lost her mother a few years later, along with several grandparents and even school teachers. She spent the rest of her teenage years living with one older sister or another. See how her trials forged the steel by which she survived and surmounted all her difficulties.
Then we come to Barbara. The city girl. Born on the East Coast, who is devastated to learn that not only does her father have a larcenous soul and supports his family with ill-gotten gains, he has been living a double life with two families. She vows revenge, and in the process of trying to get back at her father, hurts herself even more.
Next is Gloria. The "good Catholic girl" from California who, for all the right reasons, marries the wrong man, her childhood sweetheart. She soon realizes she has never been "in love" with her husband and their sex life is a chore; but her up-bringing frowns on divorce, so she stays in a loveless marriage, at least loveless on her part. After his untimely death, that remarkable thing we call the internet brings her a new love, who awakens in her all those things she has only read about. Ironically, she learns in the end that her new love never really cared for her, and she is left alone, once again. But her faith gives her the strength to accept the things she cannot change and to look forward.
Now enters Penelope. The little spitfire from New Jersey, who survives the grueling childhood provided by her autocratic father, only to marry the same kind of man. After years of being a virtual prisoner in her own home, she insists on, and is surprisingly allowed by her husband, to get some additional schooling. Then, upon learning that all these years he has been cheating on her, she begins an affair of her own. Caught between her beliefs and her feelings, she ping-pongs between her husband and her lover.
Finally, we have Paula, whose mother was a tyrant, in the darkest meaning of that word. Her mother's personality was forever changed by her harrowing experiences during World War II in Europe. Unfortunately, those changes wreaked havoc on Paula's young life. She gained priceless training in scrimping, saving, cooking and cleaning, but nothing whatsoever about how to love and be loved. But love found her, anyway.
After reading just one of these stories, you will soon learn that the Fifties
were not all that they professed to be. They were much, much more.
And I am pleased to say that Book One of the Silver Tales series is just that,
the first one. There are other volumes waiting in the wings. As for
me - I just can't stand the waiting.