Archives for posts with tag: memoir writer


The magic of writing a memoir is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, only in reverse. That’s my new theory. When my mother posed for this picture in 1928, just after marrying, coming to Canada and starting life on an Indian reserve, she had no idea I’d write a book from her love letters and adventures some day.

Imagine my joy at receiving these emails from two of the first avid readers of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride in its paperback edition. They’re from Catherine and Fred Dunlop, my second cousins who have a beautiful farm and family.

Here’s what Catherine says about the book, so eloquently:

“Margaret – I have just finished reading this wonderful book and I still have tears in my eyes, it is so well written. Mental images appear with the flow of your words and they transport me, it seems, right into that setting.
I am not a writer, but I am a voracious reader and I so enjoy how you can make a scene come to life with just descriptive passages. I laughed, I shook my head in disbelief many times and, as I said, cried when I had finished. I cannot say enough about this wonderful gift of love to your parents. I am going to order several today. I want to put one in our local library and I also want to give each of our children a copy. Uncle Jack baptized all three of our children.
I often called Uncle Jack ‘the oldest teenager I know’ and he seemed to enjoy that. We also had many discussions around theology topics. He was a man thinking unlike many of the ministers of his time. Aunt Kay was always so quiet and reserved but, once, she and I were talking out in my kitchen as I was cutting meat and she seemed vitally interested in my life, asking me questions about how I was coping with motherhood and a busy husband. Her way of saying “I know exactly what you are going through”?
Anyway, thank you for writing this story, THEIR story, so beautifully.


And here’s what Fred, who sent the photos, had to say:

“Good morning Margaret – we found this picture of your parents in a family trunk that mom had put away. The picture is in a frame made of rabbit skin. Mom has written on the back of the picture Rev Kell, Aunt Kathleen, Oxford House. Manitoba, 1925 (about)

Some people just have all the luck when it comes to parents and cousins, so I have a grateful heart I wanted to share with you.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. To order a copy of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride, please click here.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

imagessearchWhen Ottawa author Margaret Singleton was a child, her loving adoptive mother would tell her the story of how her parents had chosen her as a baby and she was delivered to them in a chauffeur-driven limousine. As she grew up as a farmer’s daughter, so did the physical pain and mental misery of feeling she didn’t belong. Dreams of the city filled her head as she did rough chores like cleaning out the silo, collecting eggs from the hen house and filling the wood box. Distracted and obsessed by the time she was a teen-ager in the 1950’s, she vowed to one day claim her identity and find her real mother. She completed her long, difficult mission by publishing her memoir The Box in the Closet and launching it in the crystal ballroom of Toronto’s King Edward Hotel in 2011. This is the site where her real parents were reunited at a ball in the 1940’s after years of separation.

  • The start for solving the mystery came when, on her deathbed in the 1960’s, Singleton’s adoptive mother told her a green box in the closet held documents about her birth. Until then, except for one or two toys and the limousine story, she knew nothing. Many obstacles frustrated her search: lack of information, shocking prejudices and practices towards the illegitimate and adopted, legal trickery, lack of legal rights protections and the difficulty of coping with her own emotions as well as what her mother had gone through in order to have her. This very sad, horrific story will bring tears to your eyes.
    Extraordinary features of this inspiring, factual yet creative book are:
  • the two brave, strong women (mother and daughter) who fought their way through great challenges
  • passages rife with nostalgic details of dress and setting that recreate the past century
  • vivid, dramatic scenes that involve the reader, as if watching a movie
  • insight into the thinking of a wealthy, privileged, powerful, controlling, iron-willed Rosedale aristocratic patriarch
  • the author’s creative and ingenious narrative techniques, dialogue and embellishments based on “credible theory”. She takes the reader into her confidence
  • an overall attitude of forgiveness and thankfulness after having found her birth family, although big personal and social issues remain

When the book was published and launched, Singleton sent a personal letter to the current residents of the mansion on Cluny Drive in Toronto’s Rosedale district where her story begins. They are Heather Reisman, owner of Indigo/Chapters, the largest book retailer in Canada, and her husband, Charles Schwartz, one of the country’s wealthiest businessmen. They did not respond to the invitation to share in the history of that day in 1935 when a limousine left what is now their mansion’s garage bearing a seven-month-old baby, a chauffeur and a distraught grandmother. Eight tiny silver vases filled with pink rosebuds were lined up across the base of the back-seat window to console her.
Wouldn’t it be the ultimate irony if it went on to become a best seller, and even a movie? It certainly has the potential. I think Reisman may be another prominent Rosedalean who miscalculated. If Singleton’s real Bicknell grandfather had realized that his daughter and her pregnancy would not go away, no matter how much he was determined to protect their social standing, this story could not have happened.

Memoirs find their roots in the bittersweet and, perversely, we love reading them.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!