Book Review – What I know of me….

April 5, 2023

Although I am known for encouraging people to tell their stories, memoir is not my genre of choice. If I am drawn to read a memoir, typically I am inspired by the little I know about a person and want to read more.

I knew nothing of Carol Garvie, consequently, I was pleasantly surprised and quickly became enchanted with Carol’s, What I know Of me…. It evokes emotion and reflection, inviting us into the heartache, joy, innocence, confusion and anxiety of Carol’s deep vulnerabilities. She shares a piece of her soul.

Carol carefully crafts prose, describing memories, that occurred from her birth to eighteen (1945-1963). They are written with a rich simplicity capturing her emotions while also sharing poignant elements of life in the late forties through to the early 60’s. I could really relate to many of the descriptions from foods, family life, television shows, school, playtime and world events.

Although Carol’s childhood reflects joy, optimism, and adherence to “doing as she is told”, heart wrenching is Carol’s references to her stuttering and anxiety. She doesn’t ruminate, yet she wisely shares just enough so that we are exposed to her deep struggles. In her epilogue she reflects on possible causes of her stuttering and depression.

Compelling is Carol’s infusion of carefully selected and written poetry which adeptly captures the previous prose. The poetry helps convey the deep emotion where the prose may have left off. A unique and charming approach to presenting a memoir.

This is a delightful and refreshing approach to memoir writing. Carol’s story captures the purity and simplicity of 1945 – 1963, while also making us aware of disabilities and struggles that so often were not discussed with the same rigour as today. Bravo Carol, I think your innovative approach and vulnerable sharing will inspire others.

Mary Catherine Rolston

CVWS Book Review Committee