Best Book Publishers UK | Austin Macauley Publishers

By: Gen Webster

Dear Maggie

Pages: 212 Ratings: 4.0
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What value can an old man have, who no longer leaves his bed and seldom leaves his room located in the attic of his retirement home?

He’s irascible and impatient with his room-mate and any other residents who happen to call by his room.

Inside his head are memories which are alive. Life in a country town after migrating from Scotland at the age of five. Of his birth family he is the last man standing; there is no one who remembers things quite the way that he does. To Andy, his parents, his brothers and his cousins live on, if only in his memory.

For eighty years he lived a full life, but a runaway horse ten years ago, put a stop to his meanderings beside Sydney Harbour. He feels all but forgotten by all his own kith and kin who are busy living their own lives.

This might have been the end of his story, if not for the arrival of Maggie who inspires Andy to write again.

Gen Webster lives in Sydney’s Inner West. Her interests, besides writing, include her four grandchildren, overseas travel, daily walks through the park or by the river, solving cryptic crosswords, reading and watching murder mysteries on television. Poirot is a particular favourite.

Since her retirement, Gen has developed her writing skills through membership of a writers’ group where she has written and submitted short stories.

Dear Maggie is her first full-length novel.

Customer Reviews
2 reviews
2 reviews
  • Sylvia Hogben

    In Dear Maggie, Gen Webster's debut novel. we are introduced to nonagenarian Old Andy who is living in the 'eyrie' of a retirement home in Sydney.
    A journalist all his adult life. and a writer to the end, he embarks on a final piece; a series of letters in which he recollects his long and eventful life. These are to be given to his great grand daughter Maggie on her 15th birthday.

    The letters make up a chronicle of his life - travelling from Scotland at the age of five in 1849 with his family to start a new life in Australia. Growing up in the Outback Andy discovers his 'first love: words'. After the death of his dear wife Mary, his work as a journalist provides him with the means to travel via South Africa to London and, he hopes, back to his birthplace, Taynuilt in the Scottish Highlands. His travels bear witness to to the turbulent world events at the turn of the 20th Century. In the course of his life Andy also finds loves other than words- the happiness these bring but also the sadness and grief of many losses.

    The prose moves between the written recollections of the letters to Andy's unwritten thoughts through which we are privy to the pain and difficulty he experiences as they arise. He also shares his thoughts about his current life and surroundings.

    Gen has evoked a strong sense of place throughout - from Andy's Da's 'spiritual home' in Taynuilt with it's gorse and heather covered hills; the atmosphere of 'The flies! The dust! The heat!' on the family's journey from Sydney to Goulburn (I immediately saw Tom Robert's landscapes in my mind's eye) and the shock of grime, filthy streets and poverty in the streets of Covent Garden in late Victorian London.

    I occasionally found reading between the sections of prose slightly awkward but this didn't impinge on the enjoyment of reading Old Andy's story. I think there is a lot here to enjoy; family history; history; love stories and a good yarn. Happy birthday Maggie!

  • Judith Woolley

    I really enjoyed reading "Dear Maggie", Gen's first novel. Her main character Andy Brander has lived a full creative life. Some of his experiences are examples to us that some things never change. The need to move to a different city to find a job. Family griefs, joys, disappointments all playing their part to grow and change Andy into the character he is at this late time of life. Gen weaves his story well and we get to like and empathise with Andy. Family griefs "on our last day in Redfern we made the trip to the cemetery to say goodbye to Sylvie". Many joys, including a late in life love in Flora.

    Settling down in his later years and moving to the Boarding House where he shares a room with Thommo, Andy has plenty of time to read and think - and he thinks deeply. He feels an affinity with his great granddaughter Maggie because they share the same day and month of their birth. He decides to tell his history to her in the form of newsy, detailed letters. He bundles them up and gives them to his grandson John, (Maggie's father) for safe-keeping and Maggie receives them on her 15th Birthday. "It's a gift from old Andy, he started. writing it on the day you were born". He also digs deep and finds a willingness to put time and effort into mending some family fences, particularly with his eldest son, Bruce. "his affection came more easily to his grandchildren, nieces and nephews".

    Every place he had lived had affected him greatly "I have realised what a great life I have lived" from the U.K, Sydney and Goulburn in Australia then back to England where he finds love again and then back to Australia.

    It is up to the reader. to imagine Maggie's reaction to her Birthday gift, the legacy left to her by her great grandfather for "love for words", factual reporting, storytelling and that it is never too late to put time and effort in improving family relationships and appreciating friends like Thommo!

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