‘Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post’ says the prompt for today.
‘We have just assembled the French crib which was sent to us in 1934, when we were celebrating our first Christmas in Algiers.’
It’s not a first sentence that many will have read before, bar some members of my family. The crib being talked about is a Provençal nativity scene and the author is my dear Granny.
Granny left us just over two years ago and a little while afterwards I received, from my uncle, a book that was a copy of her original. It’s a handwritten account of her life; her years as a young woman in France, the war years that were spent in Algeria and later her married life spent in England. The first time I read it I was a bit of an emotional mess (being in the first timester of pregnancy did that to me) but I often re-read chunks of it, as Granny used to do with all her books – just dip in and I always find something interesting.
I love the book because as I read it I can hear her voice, I’m transported back to my childhood listening to her wonderful French accent with a bit of Sussex thrown in. Despite her living here for over 50 years, she never lost her accent. There are some wonderful stories and descriptions of the places she had told us about over the years and it’s full of asides containing her thoughts on different subjects. She was a teacher who has never stopped teaching, she continues through her book even now.
Towards the back there is a section written in a different hand, that of my cousin, who recorded the meeting of our Granny and Grandpa during the Second World War. This is my one of my favourite parts of the book, along with a letter from my Grandpa to his boys and a letter from my Granny to my Grandpa quoting a letter from a French officer. They are written so that you can almost feel the depth of love between them and understand why my Granny followed my Grandpa back here after the war with only the contents of a travelling trunk to her name.
The book is a link to my childhood, an explanation of the way we are as a family as well as being a record of our history. It may just look like a spiral bound photocopy but it’s definitely something I will treasure for ever.