Tag Archives: history

“Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie” by Hazel Barker

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Review by Abigail Cobley.

This book is a true testament to his courage and convictions and I highly recommend it!

Too little is known about conscientious objectors’ roles in the Second World War and Hazel Barker does a terrific job of bringing the story of Clarence Dover to our eyes. To stand in front of a judge at the tender age of 20 in the midst of war and tell him that you will not fight is such a courageous decision. Clarence did so, and by joining the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, he went on to risk his life stretcher-bearing in the London Blitz. After this, he travelled to India and China where he helped transport medical supplies.

This book is a true testament to his courage and convictions and I highly recommend it!

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Heaven Tempers the Wind by Hazel Barker

Review by  Kathy Stewart

I knew very little about the conflict in Burma during the Second World War and read this book with great interest. It struck me as the story of many wars, both personal and on a larger scale, as mother and father come into conflict, as they battle to keep true to their values, and as the father’s growing alcoholism impacts on his nature and his relationship with his family. All this is played out against the backdrop of a vicious and confronting war that had consumed the whole world.

Hazel Barker was just a small child, unable to grasp the enormity of what was about to be thrust upon them when the bombs first fell on her home town, Rangoon. They had lived an idyllic lifestyle, wanting for nothing, but their magical world was soon shattered and they were forced to flee, before being propelled into a battle for their very existence. Facing many hardships, not least of which were famine and the death of a beloved family member, they struggled to keep their family intact while their war raged both internally and externally.

An interesting and honest account of the ravages of war and also of individuals’ struggles to maintain their strong sense of self and of their values.44

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Nothing can make them stumble : the story of the Stoll/Meinel family by Herb Meinel, South Australia, 2013

Book Description
‘Nothing Can Make Them Stumble’ is a remarkable story of intrigue, survival and faith. It has its roots in the Black Forest in Germany, moves to the Middle East and continues in the Barossa Valley in Australia. In a time of social, economic and spiritual turmoil, a small group of people left their homeland of Germany to pioneer a new Christian community in Palestine. They did not stumble when faced with the hardship of the pioneering years, the set back of two world wars and their expulsion from Palestine. In the Barossa Valley they fashioned a new life in peace, security and economic stability.
Review by Hazel Barker
The title Nothing Can Make Them Stumble is a quote from Ps 119:165, and depicts the unshakable trust in God by the author’s grandparents. The family tree drawn up at the beginning clarifies the relationship between characters. The book is not merely a family history; it also contains snippets of the modern history of Palestine and the Barossa Valley.
The rift between the Carmelite Monastery and the colony’s Lutheran Mission Centre on Mt Carmel stimulated my interest. The matter was settled when the German Chancellor, Count Bismark and the Pope in Rome intervened.
Another interesting fact was the White Paper of 1939, limiting Jewish migration to 15,000 per year. It made me want to visit the museum near Haifa to learn more of the Jewish history of the time. I’d been unaware that during World War Two of German Nationals in Palestine were exchanged for Jews in German concentration camps.
The Balflour Declaration of 1917 with its subsequent revision in 1922 was also of great interest to me, and the first-hand account of the American advance into Germany and the family’s faith in Divine Providence stirred me to the core.
The history of German settlement in the Barossa Valley drew me further into the story, because I met my husband, Colin there, while on a tour of the vineyards. God’s ways are indeed wonderful.
Nothing Can Make Them Stumble has been thoroughly researched and edited. The book is well-documented with footnotes and photos. The writing is easy to follow and, at times, similes such as ‘gardens were like outstretched arms bidding a warm embrace to all who came to visit them’ add colour to the writing.
I encourage all those who wish to broaden their outlook to read the story of the Stoll/Meinel family and learn about the history of places they lived in during the last one and a half centuries.

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Chameleon by Kathy Stewart

Chameleon by Kathy Stewart

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publisher’s Summary

It’s 1914. Troops mass for war in Europe, and even at a remote trading store in Transkei, South Africa, the Moss family and their sometimes-guest Richard feel the impact on their lives. Then Richard enlists, taking fifteen-year-old Fred with him. Albert and Martha are furious and afraid for Fred, but fourteen-year-old Eve is shattered, her hopes of eloping with Richard dashed. All she has to remember him by is a strange wooden mannikin … Chameleon was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award in the UK in 2010.

Review by Hazel Barker

Chameleon is a debut novel. Set in South Africa during the two World Wars, the author deftly weaves a story from intensive research, and gives an authentic feel to the characters and situations. Written in the style of Wilbur Smith, the author explains historical events crucial to the story with clarity and verve.

The book grabs the reader from the start, and the pace quickens as the story enfolds. The stories of two families—one black and the other white—run parallel to each other, giving a sense of deep loyalties and hostilities held by each character.

Chameleon has many twists and turns, which leave the reader guessing until the final chapters. I recommend the book to all those who love mystery, history and romance.

Link to: http://www.goldcoastwritersworkshops.com

 

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