Book Review. Camera Girl by Doreen Spooner.

This book runs the gamut of one woman’s life. It begins in the present day of Doreen’s domestic life in the 1960’s, where she discovers the debts, and alcoholism, of her French husband. Previously a photographer in Fleet Street, Doreen gave up her career to raise their 2 children. When she makes this discovery, Doreen must return to work.

The narrative then takes us back to Doreen’s childhood. Her mother suffers a miscarriage and that triggers a depression that lasted throughout her life. Her mother’s story is a familiar one for women of that time. She became carer (i.e. skivvy) to a deaf mother, live in grandparents and siblings. This was what was expected of the eldest child.

‘domesticity became her reason for living. Somehow, like millions of other women in those days, she persuaded herself it was the highest calling a woman could have,’

Doreen’s father was where her love of photography came from. He had an editorial role at a largely distributed newspaper at the time The Daily Herald. It is he who encouraged Doreen to achieve her dream of being a photographer.

While in a school of photography, as a young woman, Doreen observed this,

‘all these people wanted to create were pretty paintings, smooth glossy images of bland perfection shot beside an urn with roses or a pair of fake French windows,’

Remind you of anything?

In those days in London, Fleet Street was the place newspapers were put together. It was also no place a woman was expected to want to work. Doreen didn’t care for that. From school we join Doreen in her early journey of capturing on film Lapland, America, Einstein and young royalty. She accompanied famous photographers at the time and learnt her craft.

Back home, Doreen found herself at a crossroads. She was invited by a friend to France, where work was available. This is where Doreen finds romance and her future husband. The narrative tos and fros between France and England, as they marry and have children.

This is when we return to where the book started, where Doreen’s husband is a struggling photographer and is also finding it hard to fit in with English culture. Doreen’s return to work as a newspaper photographer is a success, but this also causes friction within the marriage.

Doreen’s husband slowly retreats into his alcoholism and he loses virtually everything, as eventually Doreen is unable to help him and ends their marriage.

This book has many human stories and it’s a great read. One of my favourites.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Story time. Read a bit more of Jude’s story. In case you forgot I also write fiction.


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I slot the key into the lock and turn it. With my foot on the bottom of the rotten door frame, I push open the door, and step into the shop. The post under my feet crunches. I shut the door and crouch down to scoop them up. Tentatively I weave my way through Betty Boop statues, and Bamboo side tables to the back of the room, where I place the post on the till, which leaves my fingers coated in grime.

 
My phone bings. I swipe up the screen. Name: Dani. I put the phone to my ear. ‘Hello.’ I say.
‘Hi’ Dani says. ‘Can you see me?’
‘When.’
‘Now, later, tonight. Whenever.’
‘I can’t, really. I have a doctor’s appointment, then I go to the council, and the Jobcentre. Then I have to do some shopping.’
‘OK. See ya when I see ya then.’
Beep.

I scratch my shoulder, pulling the vodka out of the plastic bag I bought in with me. I take out the plastic cups, and rip off the wrapping, slipping a cup from the bottom of the tube. My hand shakes as I pour the vodka into the cup, and put the bottle down on the till, sliding a small bottle of lemonade from the bag, and topping it up.
A carriage clock ticks. Ominous. I can’t stand the ticking of a clock. I will have to find a way to silence them. All of them. My eyes run along the shelves of clocks: glinting silver, and gold soldiers.


Thanks for reading. I hope you took something from it. Drop me a comment below if you did.


My Thoughts on Two Non-Fiction reads

Dry by Augustin Burroughs

Published by Atlantic Books

4/5

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I think I prefer that second cover.

Dry is the story of Augustin, of his drinking which isn’t a problem, of entering rehab at the request of his employers, and then navigating life on the outside: sober. I highlighted this part – when Augustin began to realise the consequences of his drinking, demonstrated by the bottles that had piled up in his flat and on his return home, having to bag them all up. I liked that metaphoric imagery of the weight of drinking. (Looking too deeply into things again, Kate?)

Quote 

‘I feel like I drank a bottle of wine. I even feel guilty,’
‘Exactly,’ I say, relieved that he feels it too. Relieved that I am not the only one who is so unaccustomed to happiness and the feeling of impending punishment that follows.’


Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller

Published by Amazon Publishing

3/5

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Coming Clean is a well written memoir, starting with stories from Kimberly’s childhood – then expanding on her family and her father: a hoarder. I liked how she wrote about hoarding realities vs the stereotypical images we have all seen depicted on televisions shows. It was a good read if you want a real, honest account on what it is like to live with and know a hoarder.