Review of “Lillian’s Story” by Sally Patricia Gardner

Lillian’s story traces her journey through life from her birth at the dawn of the 20th century up to her death a hundred years later.

She narrates in a chatty and natural style how as a young girl she leaves home to go into service, leading the reader through two world wars, expressing her fears and joys and her loves and losses. Lillian is a strong, positive and open-minded woman, receptive to the huge changes taking place in her own world and the greater world beyond. She’s interested in international events as much as in her family and friends, and we learn her attitude to the major happenings of the century – the atomic bomb, the Kennedy assassination, the Iraq war and the political scene in Great Britain. I loved it when Lillian wonders whether at the age of 92 she’s too old to learn how to become a computer buff.

I found the character of Lillian totally convincing and likeable, and one reason I enjoyed this book is that she reminded me so much of my dear mother-in-law. Both fiercely loyal to family and friends, both born in the early part of the 20th century, and living through many changes and much heartache, they got on with their lives and dealt with their difficulties without complaint, making their way in the world through hard work.

As Lillian’s family and those of her friends grew exponentially I found it difficult to keep track of all the characters, and although the author includes a dramatis personae at the end, I often struggled to remember who everybody was. Also I felt Lillian’s second marriage, and a certain event that I won’t mention because it would be a spoiler, were just a little contrived.

The ending was completely unexpected. Overall I found this to be a very satisfying read that I would recommend to anybody interested in social history.

I gave Lillian’s Story 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads.

A small niggle, but a niggle nevertheless

Here’s another case of what I regard as dishonesty.

Until we succeeded in prising a Livebox out of, despite them insisting for the last four years that it would not work for us (it does), we routed our telephone calls through Phonexpat. For the benefit of anybody who doesn’t already know, with a Livebox, as well as broadband Internet you get free phone calls to landlines in most parts of the world. Without the Livebox, your calls will by default route via France Telecom and you have to pay for them all. However, if you choose to have your calls routed via Phonexpat, they are considerably cheaper.

Having acquired and installed the precious Livebox, I contacted Phonexpat to say that as delighted as we had been with their service, it was no longer of benefit to us, and would they be kind enough to cancel it. A very quick and polite reply came back, saying that under the terms of their contract we had to give one month’s notice, which I duly did on 22nd May. Phonexpat confirmed that the contract would expire on 22nd June.

Yesterday – 25th June – our calls were still passing via Phonexpat, so I wrote to them to remind them that we had cancelled the contract. Ah yes, came the quick and courteous reply:

“The cancellation request was launched on the 22nd of June. It usually takes a few days to be cancelled.”

Now, why wasn’t the contract cancelled on the 22nd? Why was the cancellation request only launched (by Phonexpat) on the 22nd when they know that it takes a few days to be cancelled? Why don’t they launch the cancellation request in good time so that the cancellation comes into effect on the date when the contract expires?

It isn’t a huge issue – we’ve probably only make a handful of calls since 22nd, but it’s a shame, after giving us excellent service for several years, that this now leaves a slightly sour taste in my mouth, because it is another example of an organisation employing “small print” tactics to squeeze more money out of customers. Our calls are still routing via Phonexpat. 😦


What would you do?

We recently bought 2 items (car parts) from a reputable website.  On each occasion we paid extra for 24 hour delivery, as well as another extra that guaranteed our right to return the item if it was unsatisfactory for any reason.

The first item was delivered after 72 hours. We returned it to exchange for another part.

The second part took 96 hours to arrive, despite paying the extra for 24 hour delivery.

When reimbursement for the returned part did not arrive after a week, I telephoned the company and was told: “Read the small print – it will be returned after 30 days.”

Subsequently I was invited to leave a rating and review for the second part. I left 3 stars, saying that 24 hour delivery should mean 24 hours, and not 96. I then received an email suggesting that I might like to change my rating to 5 stars, in return for free delivery in future. I replied that I would not change the rating, due to the delay in reimbursement for the first part.

One day later, I received another email saying that repayment for the first part had been credited to my bank (less the 24-hour delivery charge and the guaranteed return insurance), and would I now please revise my rating.

What would you do? Stick with the original rating so that future customers should know what to expect? Or revise the rating in view of the fact that the company has addressed my complaints?

Bring me sunshine!

What a good week this has been; so many lovely things happening. And here’s another thing – a Sunshine award from Mrs Fly’s Real France blog.

Fly’s view of France is not all soft and fluffy, as she peels the crust off the baguette and the blows the bubbles off the champagne to reveal some lesser-known and less savoury aspects of real life in the Hexagon. It’s a revelation, and like her blog about life in Costa Rica, always beautifully written, and laser sharp.

Thanks, Fly.

Visitors, if you would like to add the Sunshine award to your blog, with my compliments, please do so.

Oh, just remembered, revelations expected. *Wracks brains furiously*


I can’t understand cupcakes. Seems to me they are simply small cakes smothered in tooth-decaying icing, stuck into messy paper cases, and crazily-priced.

I once ran away from home and was captured by police all because I wouldn’t eat undercooked egg white.

I’ve been inside a battered wives’ hostel.

I don’t like cut flowers. Leave them to live and die naturally.

I can’t be trusted with a bottle of Baileys – I’d probably drink it all in a couple of hours, although I hardly touch alcohol normally.

I bite the skin around my fingernails.

I’d like to see steeplechasing banned.

I’ve sold more than 50,000 paperback copies of my books (and yes, I have the royalty statements to prove it!)

I can happily live on Smash for several months. I have done so.

That’s it, folks.