Angela’s Ashes comes home to the Bronx in a brilliant, touching, charming, and bittersweet account of a childhood during the Depression from America’s Queen of Suspense.
Mary Higgins Clark’s memoir begins with the death of her father in 1939. With no money in the house—the Higgins Bar and Grill in the Bronx is failing and in debt, and worry about it is one of the things that has killed her father—Mary’s indomitable Irish mother (she devotes a chapter to her “Wild Irish Mother”) puts a classified ad in the Bronx Home News: “Furnished rooms! Kitchen Privileges!” Very shortly there arrives the first in a succession of tenants who will change the lives of the Higgins family and set the young Mary on her start as a writer, while bringing to them all a dose of the Christmas spirit that seemed to have vanished with Mr. Higgins’s death.
Full of hope, faith, memorable characters, and warmth, Kitchen Privileges brings back into sharp, nostalgic focus the feeling of growing up poor, but determined to survive, in a vanished Bronx that was one of white lace curtains instead of a slum, and at a time when everybody was poor and either needed or offered a helping hand.
Clark, author of 27 bestselling novels, has shifted gears and written a memoir that speaks directly to readers. The touching collection of anecdotes begins with a Depression-era childhood in the Bronx lacking in money but rich with love. The author's mother, who told everyone, "Mary is very gifted... going to be a successful writer," supplemented her income by renting out rooms with "kitchen privileges," and raised her children with selfless heroism, proving a shining example when Clark became a young widow, left to bring up five children on her own. The book proves particularly engaging when Clark tells of her writing group and the professor, William Byron Mowery, who taught her to think "what if" and "suppose" as a way of devising interesting plots. She conveys her courtship with her first husband sensitively and humorously, and writes of his death in honest, understated prose. Clark charts her literary road frankly, pointing out the numerous rejection slips and the failure of her first book, Aspire to the Heavens the love story of George and Martha Washington due to a misleading, uncommercial title. It's typical of her optimism that she considered it a triumph ("I knew... I had what it took to actually write a book"). Ranging from stories of illness and struggle to her happy 1996 marriage to Merrill Lynch CEO John Conheeney, this memoir shows what can be done when someone pursues her dreams, remains action-oriented and fights to overcome enormous obstacles. Photos.
The Lost Years
I've been a fan of MHC for years and this storyline has been the most creative. It had me thinking "what if"?! The range of conflicting emotions of the main character was interesting as well as the numerous suspects. It was a great read to end a wonderful vacation.