OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)

Today I have a book review and recommendation to share with you. Our Kate: Her Personal Story is a deeply touching work of literature. It is a literary autobiography of writer Catherine Cookson and her mother Kate. The relationships between mother and daughter is the focus of this novel. The stories of their lives are interwoven, their relationship close but strained. Our Kate is, in many way,  a story of a mother and  daughter relationship troubled by dire poverty and other problems. This was my first book by this author. Catherine Cookson, or to give you a full title and name: Dame Catherine Ann Cookson was a British author that somehow remains somewhat unknown, especially when compared to her other better known British colleagues. Dame Catherine Ann Cookson is one of twenty most widely read British novelists. Her sales top 100 million and yet many do not know of her. I must admit that until recently I was one of those 'many'. Fortunately, I came upon this second hand copy in a book exchange box. What a lucky find! I discovered an author whose  candid writing style impressed me deeply.
 OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)
OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)
OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)
I think I mentioned here on the blog, how in Jelsa there are these lovely wood boxes all around the place where you can leave a book. I often see German and English books there as well, I presume they're left there by tourists. When you're have a book a spare, you leave it there. Isn't it brilliant? Anyhow, that is how I came upon this book, it was left there by some tourist. Not that I have any issues finding books to read here. The library in Jelsa is well equipped and run by professional staff. I can only praise it. I'm happy to see that such a small village has such a wonderful and well equipped  library. These photographs however were taken in Stari Grad city. Let's get to reviewing the book, shall we?

OUR KATE- A HEART-BREAKING BUT INSPIRING AUTOBIOGRAPHY 5/5

Our Kate is perhaps the best book I've read this year and certainly one of the best autobiographies I've ever come across. The reason why it took me so long to read this book is because it was so filled with different emotions, meanings and meditations. Some paragraphs I had to read very slowly so I can decipher the meaning intended. This book does not only a fantastic job of transporting us back to a certain historical time and place but also manages to capture the heart and soul of its characters. This is a writer that made her break-through as a regional writer. Catherine is brilliant at capturing the idiom of the place she grew up with. Her characters speak the English  of their region and background and this makes the dialogues sound very natural and convincing. 

The psychological portrayal of Catherine Cookson and her family is amazingly detailed but very warm at the same time. Her family members (her mother, aunt and uncle, grandma and grandpa) feel like real people. Even those individuals that are seldom mentioned seem convincing and well rounded. This book is not a light read but it is a very meaningful one. The topics this book touches on (such as alcoholism, cruelty, domestic abuse, depression, miscarriages, illegitimate or unwanted children, extreme poverty) are extremely hard to read about at times. However, there is such sincerity to Catherine's writing that it is find to put down this book, no matter how depressive it gets at times.

I like how Catherine approached many of the difficult topics this novel dwells on. Catherine doesn't make excuses for her characters, but she chooses not to look back in anger, if you understand what I mean. She paints her characters as flawed but human. You see all the nuances of their personalities and that it hard for you to judge them, but at the same time, you can judge their behaviour. I feel that as a reader you are made to see that extreme poverty is not an excuse for certain types of cruel behaviour. The author does a great job of making it clear that certain things like alcoholism should not be pardoned or bad behaviour excused, but at the same time there is forgiveness in her heart. I think that's a very health way to look on things, both in life and writing. It can be tempting to make excuses for both ourselves and others, but at the end of the day- everyone has got a choice.  That's what I love about the writing, it is both emotional and rational. In fact, there is a very good balance between the heart and the mind in this book. The overall impression was very touching. It must have been hard to write this book for Catherine as the matters discussed are deeply personal. I was very touched by the author's honest, emotional and rational way of looking at things. 

The only time I ever remember being so touched and impressed by an autobiography was when I read A Portrait of an Artist As a Young Man. Like Joyce's famous book, this one is a literary autobiography. Plus, it's really the only autobiography I can compare this book with. It is seldom that one comes across a book that feels so thoroughly honest and authentic. Our Kate is a book about the mother of Catherine Cookson, but it is just as much about Catherine Cookson herself. In many ways, it is a book about a troubled relationship between an alcoholic mother and an illegitimate daughter. The author showed with perfect clarity the horrible reality of growing up and living with an alcoholic and yet at the same time, Catherine did not demonize her mother but showed her as a person with weaknesses and strengths. At one point in the novel, when Catherine descends into depression, she realized how much hate she has gathered against her mother. In a way, it is her mother that was the reason for her mental breakdown as the years of worrying about her took their toll. Still, despite everything their bond remains strong. I was glad that Kate (the mother) found peace at the end. I hope Catherine the writer did too. If this book is any judge, Catherine was definitely an inspiring and brave woman and a wonderful human being. If there is a lesson we can take from this book, for me it is this one: Love others, but don't make excuses for them. The truth is always liberating. 
OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)

I sang praises to this novel, but I distinctly remember being profoundly sad when I finished it. I suppose that it also speaks for the author's  writing prowess for making me feel so deeply about her story. I felt really sorry for Catherine reading about the mental breakdown she went through. It felt really unfair that she she suffer so much mentally after being strong for everyone for so long, after working so incredibly hard all her life. However, when I read about how sharing her experience helped others, I felt a little better. To share her experiences back in those days when mental illness was strictly taboo, that was an incredibly brave move on Catherine Cookson's part. I don't think younger generations understand how stoic the British who survived the first and the second world world were and in some cases still are. They were a generation that suffered much and didn't have the liberty to express it. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that in these days so much more is known about mental illnesses and the stigma is not as hard as it once was. It was painful to read about Catherine's experiences in the hospital she was treated in. As sad as I felt finishing this book, with time this feeling changed and I realized how inspiring this story truly is. As I said, I really hope this wonderful woman found the piece she deserved. I for one am really happy I learned about this author. It is always great when you find a new author whose writing style suits you. I've pretty much been a bookworm all my life, but it never gets old, the thrill of finding a new writer you can connect with. It feels like finding a kindred soul at times. 

OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)



OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)
OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)
OUR KATE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY CATHERINE COOKSON (BOOK REVIEW)
Have you read anything interesting lately? As always, THANK YOU for your visits and comments!

Comments

  1. I love reading autobiographies the most. This would be a great read!
    Happy day Ivana!

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  2. Amazing place.
    Thanks for sharing that book
    I have a lot of time to read.

    Ann
    https://roomsofinspiration.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, I hope you find something worth reading.

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  3. It sounds like an interesting book, although I haven't heard of the author before either! It's nice you enjoyed the auto biography and thoughtful for someone to leave it behind in the book exchange :)

    Hope that you are having a good week! :)

    Away From Blue

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  4. I don't know who Catherine Cookson is, but autobiographies are usually very interesting

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  5. It sounds like a fantastic book. I didn't know Catherine Cookson, but now I would like to read her book. I'm curious about her relationship with her mother. Amazing review!

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  6. Catherine Cookson was huge here in the UK, everyone's mother read her books in the 1970s (my mum certainly did) and many of her novels were serialised and shown on prime time TV.
    Lovely views of Jelsa! xxx

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    Replies
    1. That's interesting about her novels being serialised!

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  7. Non conoscevo questo libro, grazie per avermelo fatto scoprire! Bellissima gonna!

    The World Of A Vet
    Bloglovin
    Instagram

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  8. This autobiography seams interesting.

    You look great in your skirt.

    xoxo Sabine

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  9. Sounds great. You are beautiful.

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  10. Hello dear Ivana, hope you had a lovely weekend!

    Thanks again for another great book recommendations, autobiographies are not my hit, but maybe it is a genre that I should start exploring since there are many interesting lives that can connect with you, specially if you're a writer.

    I loved the fact that you found this treasure in an exchange box, the greatest discoveries are found almost by casual and that's magical! And I totally understand you, that bittersweet feeling you have after finishing a book and connecting so much with an author or the story, it never ends and that's one of the best things related to create stories!

    PS: That skirt is lovely and enjoy the weekend!
    Pablo
    Hey Fungi

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Pablo. Yes, it is one of the best things, isn't it?

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  11. Catherine Cookson is a huge, best-selling author of romantic novels, popular not just in the UK, but here in Belgium and I guess in a lot of other countries as well. Although not usually my cup of tea, I do love to read autobiographical novels, so I would give this a go. You can find these book exchange boxes here too! xxx

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  12. Our Kate sounds perfect, I love your photos, great place and you look lovely ❤

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  13. Ciao tesoro meravigliosa tu e la tua lettura

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  14. Wonderful review! I have seen some of her work, but not this. Great find! Love your outfit. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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  15. Sounds like some true problems many of us face with our families in the past and in the present. Sounds like a very touching book. Thank you so much for sharing it. Awesome post. And beautiful location and wonderful wardrobe as well!

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  16. I enjoy autobiographies, and this sounds excellent, Ivana - thanks for the recommendation. I've heard of Catherine Cookson, but not read any of her books either! Agatha Christie's autobiography is also good (another woman writer), although she makes no mention of her "mysterious" disappearance.

    Have a great weekend!

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    Replies
    1. I will look it up, I read a fair number of her works but not her autobiography.

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  17. I really love reading autobiography and this novel sounds like a must read. Btw You are looking very pretty. Lovely Post!
    Allurerage
    Thetrendybride

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  18. Nemmeno io conoscevo questo autore ma ora mi hai davvero incuriosita, cercherò questo libro. Ivana stai da dio con questo look!

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  19. The book sounds so good! My mum loves Catherine Cookson I bet she would really like this.

    I love the skirt also, it looks really good one you.

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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  20. I love those book libraries where you take one and leave one. That's such a cool idea and we have them here too!!
    You give me such good recommendations for reading Ivana....thanks!!!
    OOOXX
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  21. Very fine photos, this books seems very interesting ;)

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  22. I haven't heard of this book, but I'd love to read it :)

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  23. Thank you for your interesting book recommendation!
    I love you cute skirt! You look georgeous, Ivana!
    Have a great week,
    xoxo Nadine

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  24. I'm not familiar with this author but she certainly sounds like she is a good writer to be able to convey so much emotion while also sharing her personal life story. It's terrible that she ended up suffering a mental breakdown but still opened up about her experience especially since it helped others. It's sad that there is a stigma around mental illness that still exists even today.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it is sad that stigma still exists but I think things are looking up, thanks to individuals willing to share their experience, treament and recovery stories.

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  25. That book sounds so great, and I started to be interested in her books!
    I really love your phrase "finding a kindred soul" in the last sentence, Ivana<3

    akiko

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  26. My great gran used to read her stuff a lot.

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All your comments mean a lot to me, even the criticism. Naravno da mi puno znači što ste uzeli vrijeme da nešto napišete, pa makar to bila i kritika. Per me le vostre parole sono sempre preziose anche quando si tratta di critiche.

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