"This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing" | Reviewed by Joan Kletzker
I felt like I was drinking coffee with a friend as I read this memoir by Jacqueline Winspear, a baby boomer in her mid 60s. In her newest book she writes about her growing up years in England, post World War II. Winspear is best known for her “Maisie Dobbs” novels.
Winspear's experiences were similar to mine, my siblings, and friends who grew up during a time of peace. Boomers’ parents came home from the horrors of the war, went to work and built families and neighborhoods. It was an era of unity, faith and goodness.
Her descriptions of family life with a multitude of aunts, uncles and cousins resonated with me. Family get-togethers were boisterous, happy events. Winspear is still in touch with many of her cousins. Her father was a quiet, kind man. Her mother had highs and lows, ups and downs, and was wickedly witty. She was known for telling stories, some embellished, some completely made up.
Much of the time, Jack, as she was called, was on the receiving end of her mother’s very sharp tongue. This caused friction between them. When her mother was quite sick and death was coming, Winspear was able to confront her. The beautiful thing is that Jack truly loved her parents and was able to understand her mother better as she went through her own adulthood.
Winspear relates how she grew up in the countryside and worked hard at different jobs in neighboring areas. She loves the openness and beauty of the country. She knew as a young child she wanted to be a writer.
As I read, I was struck by how very different life was then and how safe people felt. As a young teen Winspear was left in charge of her younger brother. All the neighbors knew each other, so if anything happened someone would be there to help. She talks about exploring the woods by her house and having the freedom to do that. Winspear is still in touch with some of her friends from that time period.
“This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing” may have the greatest appeal to those of us in our 60s and 70s. It made me remember many things about my own youth. Siblings, cousins, and neighbors really did watch out for others and truly cared. It was nice to a read a memoir without angst, without abuse, without mental illness, without poverty, without addictions. This is a refreshing book to be savored.