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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Karen Cioffi Reviews Helena Harper's New Poetry Book

Title: Family & More - Enemies or Friends?
Author: Helena Harper,
Publisher: Pen Press,
Genre: memoir, poetry
ISBN 13: 978-1907172649
ISBN-10: 1907172645

Reviewed by Karen Cioffi originally for Amazon
Reviewer's rating: 5 stars

Family and More – Enemies or Friends? is more than a collection of poems, it is a story I enjoyed and learned from. As you read this book, it becomes clear that the author put a great deal of time and effort into the choice of every word used. Each poem has a melodic flow that moves smoothly into the next.

Family and More enlightens the reader to the conflicts and confusion that exist in a family divided by war. Being the child of a German mother and English father in the aftermath of WWII, the author delves into her family’s history by examining the lives of several family members as well as other personal relationships. Each poem is an intertwined life. With descriptive imagery these people come alive; you see their struggles and triumphs.

This wonderful poetic story goes beyond a family history; it depicts the futility, frustration and hardship of war, along with the frailties and strengths of the people that make up each of our families.

Family and More – Enemies or Friends? is a beautifully written book. I highly recommend it.

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Helena Harper said...

Thank you, Carolyn, for posting the review of my newly released book. If anyone wishes to know a little more about the book, then here is a slightly extended blurb:

"Family and More is a beautifully lyrical collection of verse, in which Helena Harper recalls the people who have touched her life and taught her precious life lessons. As the daughter of a German mother and English father, who met in Hamburg at the end of World War II, she explores notions of national and emotional boundaries, the horrors of war, self-discovery and love, returning time and again to that oldest and most emotive of themes: the infinite power of the human spirit.

Besides heartwarming tributes to both parents, she describes the exploits and personalities of various German and English relatives, from her gifted, energetic maternal grandmother and heroic maternal grandfather whom she never met, to her two uncles, 'human and fallible both' – the hard-working, sun-loving German one, who nearly died at Stalingrad, and the charismatic, conservative English one. A much loved colleague, a devoted physiotherapist and difficult boss are also amongst the people described.

Many of the people she writes about are now dead, but as you read this collection you will notice that what stands out above all is a sense of life-affirming love and optimism. You are left at the end knowing that every encounter we have in life can be a force for good and, if we see with the heart, our man-made divisions will seem both absurd and insignificant. A moving celebration of our common humanity."

Donna M. McDine said...

Terrific review. I must purchase!

Best wishes,

Karen Cioffi said...

I am honored that you used my review to feature your book, Helena. There's not much I can add . . . I think you are a talented writer and your book is amazing.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

This sounds fascinating. I’m in awe of how poets can say so much in so few words. To use a collection of poems to tell such a complicated story must be a real challenge.

Magdalena Ball said...

Well done Helena - sounds like a wonderful book. Great poetry always involves putting "a great deal of time and effort into the choice of every word used" which is why it's such a powerful art form. I'll look forward to reading it.

Margaret Fieland said...

Carolyn, thanks for posting this review. Helena, your poetry sounds great .. I've put your book on my list of books to buy.

Helena Harper said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

Donna - if you do get the book, please let me know what you think of it!

Karen - it was my pleasure. It was the first proper review I received for my book and, as such, I have a real fondness for it. I can only thank you again for taking the time and trouble to read the book and pen a review of it.

Jane - the poems just really came to me. I was totally absorbed as I penned the first draft and loved every minute of it. When it came to revising that first draft, though, that was indeed, at times, a real challenge!

Maggie - as a supreme poet yourself, you understand completely. People sometimes think that it must be easy to write poetry, but after two poetry collections (where at times I've thought, why am I putting myself through this?), I'll be pleased to take at least a little break and focus my attention on my children's stories!

Margaret - as and when you get round to reading it, I do hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think.