Sunday 1 December 2013

Island Summers

Finished November 25
Island Summers: Memories of a Norwegian Childhood by Tilly Culme-Seymour

This memoir covers not only the author's childhood, but the entire family history of this island and what led to her grandmother purchasing it. Tilly has no real memories of her grandmother Mor-mor as she was very young when she died. But she did have access to the recollections of others and of her grandmother's and mother's diaries. The island is located in the south of Norway, with the nearest mainland town, where supplies were often obtained, being Lillesand.
The family lived mostly in England except to come to this island in the summer, a tradition begun in 1947 when Olga Olsen, Tilly's grandmother bought the island and had a cottage and boathouse built on it. The cottage was finished by 1949 and the family began to visit as a group, but Mor-mor always took some time by herself. Both Tilly's grandmother and mother had second marriages, with Tilly being the youngest daughter of her mother's second marriage. The family history is laid out along with the history of the cottage and the family's use of the island. Tilly's mother took on the cottage from her mother with the blessing of her siblings, and the new generation is using it extensively, with Tilly herself loving the off-season when things are quieter, after spending some late winter months there in 2006.
This is an engaging open memoir and the maps and photos help make the island come alive. The stories detail everyday life on the island, and give a sense of how the family dynamics work both now and in the past. A very interesting family memoir.

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