Richard Ford's happy book

Between Them - Remembering My Parents by Richard Ford, published by Jonathan Cape

Author Richard Ford.

Author Richard Ford.

ONE OF the main reasons readers are reverting to reading physical books as opposed to the Kindle is that, despite all its conveniences, the Kindle cannot provide the full book experience.

The reality is that there is more, a lot more, to a book than just words on a page. In fact, there are times when an individual book can exude a distinctive personality. A case in point is Between Them - Remembering My Parents, written by Richard Ford and published by Jonathan Cape, which exudes a personality all of its own. It is a modest volume, but is presented in such a way that it is almost impossible for the reader to resist opening it and be immediately immersed in the Author’s Note, which is worth quoting in full:

“In writing these two memoirs - thirty years apart - I have permitted some inconsistencies to persist between the two, and I have allowed myself the lenience to retell certain events. Both of these choices, I hope, will remind the reader that I was one person raised by two very different people, each with a separate perspective to impress upon me, each trying to act in concert with the other, and each of whose eyes I tried to see the world through. Bringing up a son who can survive to adulthood must sometimes seem to parents little more than a doomed exercise in repetition, an often futile but loving effort at consistency. In all cases, however, entering the past is precarious business, since the past strives but always half-fails to make us who we are.”

This somewhat modest statement is indicative of the powerful narrative that follows, beginning with the sentence: “Somewhere deep in my childhood, my father is coming up the road on a Friday night. He is a traveling salesman. It is 1951 or ‘52.”

The reader meets Parker Ford, a tall country boy with a warm hesitant smile and subsequently his mother Edna Atkins a dark eyed Arkansas beauty whose convent education was cut short by her itinerant parents and who was only seventeen when she fell in love with the travelling salesman. Ford’s prose is honest and forthright but always affectionate and imbued with a deep love for his sometimes nomadic parents who, throughout the 1930s and until his arrival in 1944, lead a life on the road as Edna accompanied her husband on his sales trips to cities like New Orleans, Memphis and Texarkana.

His description of his own childhood and relationship with his parents is equally direct, warm and loving. The reader feels totally welcome and completely at home in their company. Between Them - Remembering My Parents is one of those rare jewels, an uplifting and happy book that the reader will not want to finish. It is the perfect holiday read.

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