They Left Us Everything

They Left Us Everything

A Memoir

Book - 2016
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s
SCL_BookClubs
Oct 09, 2019

Our Monday Afternoon Book Club could have discussed this book for hours! Plum Johnson packed so much into one book about the highs and lows of settling her parents' estate. While dealing with the monumental task of cleaning out their 23 room house, she takes us back to when her parents first met and then through the decades of their relationship.

m
movar
Dec 03, 2018

Every woman should read this book to know what to expect! for herself and the rest of the family. Reality can be hard to stomach and even harder to face. Emotions and "stuff" to clear in a big house full of furniture too massive for condo, precious books no one wants to buy, silverware worth hardly anything, old letters, souvenirs and regrets! (very good interviews with the author on the Web)

j
julia_sedai
Oct 08, 2018

Very interesting story about the author's parents and their relationships with each other and their children. It made me cry a few times.

It makes me realize my life is pretty boring. At 26 their dad was in the British Navy and escaping from the Japanese and their mom was working as a war nurse. They met by a series of chance circumstances. They both have incredibly interesting backgrounds and are nothing alike.

One thing I loved was that the author doesn't downplay their faith, even if she doesn't share it.

It also made me want to go back to Ontario!

a
altybiz
Sep 03, 2018

The Canadian author, Plum Johnson, cited a true history of her parents and siblings that was unique. They lived in a 23-room house and when her mother finally followed her father in death, it was Plum's self selected job to clean the place out. The problem: her mom never got rid of anything, so she had many years of items and memories to deal with. I know that the things she told about had to have been true, as I am a senior and recognized probably 90% of them from my youth. I recommend this book and have already told my siblings that it's an enjoyable read for "our type", plus upcoming generations. What a magnifying glass it provides, especially about finding out that historic documents and artifacts may be worth almost nothing when you go to sell them. Fun book.

0Charlie Feb 13, 2018

Having reached a certain age, this story resonated with me as my family prepares themselves for the inevitable loss of our aging parents. The claiming and clearing of the family "heirlooms" can be a difficult and contentious process for those left behind. This work was interesting and thought-provoking, suggesting ways for each family member to come to terms with their loss, understanding their place in the family, both in the past and moving forward. At just under 300 pages, it was an easy read. Recommended.

g
GrandmaKing
Jan 24, 2018

I found this book quite disturbing. Plum seems totally enamoured with her father who was a cruel and horrible man. The first chapter held so much promise but from there on it was such a sad story of a dysfunctional family that I wonder how anyone could enjoy it. The close relationship of the siblings is quite heartwarming.

n
nhoj
Oct 31, 2017

After 20 years of caring for her elderly parents, the author feels only frustration and resentment. Although her brothers have helped, they haven't been there for the day-to-day slog. Her father died a few years earlier with Alzheimer's disease and her mother has just quietly died a few weeks after Christmas. Plum's American mother and English father settled in Canada as a compromise after World War II and a few years in Asian countries. Like so many of their Depression-era peers, nothing was ever thrown away. The author thinks it will only take her 6 weeks to clean out a 23-room house that's been occupied since 1952. Instead she embarks on a 16-month journey that includes grief, discovering her parents as people, and coming to terms with her often rocky relationship with her mother.

l
LindaMarion
Oct 12, 2017

familiar with oakville ontario so trying to place house. good book, read it in 2 days. liked the history of the home and how much work it was to clear to sell. would recommend to read!

b
becker
Jul 17, 2017

A very pleasant and thoughtful read. Anyone would enjoy this memoir but if you are in your Golden years or are taking care of someone in their Golden years, you will really relate to and enjoy this. It is a wonderful combination of funny, sad and interesting and it will leave you feeling reflective. Good book!

d
daysleeper236
Mar 05, 2017

A poignant, beautifully-written memoir.

sydniec Jan 20, 2017

a touching story set in Oakville, about an old house and the family that loved it. the title reflexs the realization that comes towards the end of the book

h
haileyj
Oct 12, 2016

I enjoyed this book because I am presently going through a very similar situation and so many of the incidents described are spot on. I gave it to my 95 year old mother to read and she enjoyed it too just because it is so topical. A good read for anyone facing the gargantuan task of emptying out a family home and sharing the work and the treasures among the siblings.

JudeLee Oct 04, 2016

I loved, loved this book. It made me laugh and cry. The story was so believable and spoke to me. Her writing was superb. It gets my vote for the Evergreen Award.

t
TheresaAJ
Sep 06, 2016

After 20 years of caring for her elderly parents, the author feels only frustration and resentment. Although her brothers have helped, they haven't been there for the day-to-day slog. Her father died a few years earlier with Alzheimer's disease and her mother has just quietly died a few weeks after Christmas. Plum's American mother and English father settled in Canada as a compromise after World War II and a few years in Asian countries. Like so many of their Depression-era peers, nothing was ever thrown away. The author thinks it will only take her 6 weeks to clean out a 23-room house that's been occupied since 1952. Instead she embarks on a 16-month journey that includes grief, discovering her parents as people, and coming to terms with her often rocky relationship with her mother.

e
empbee
Aug 01, 2016

A very well written serious, funny, touching, practical and educational memoir.

claire1 Jan 13, 2016

very emotional book about parents not having a will and children having to go thru belongings

dairyqueen Dec 22, 2015

Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
It is both funny and sad. I also enjoyed the stories within the story.

ehbooklover Dec 18, 2015

4.5 stars. A heart-warming and emotional memoir that explores themes of grief, loss, and family. My favourite part was the descriptive writing, especially with regards to the family home, which is so well described that it seems to have its own personality.

g
gingerbeer
Nov 16, 2015

This memoir is funny, sad, sweet and heart-breaking. It deals with family, memories, loss and letting go in a way that anyone who has packed up the possessions of a parent can relate to.

t
thebritlass
Nov 04, 2015

Absorbing in its own right, this book is especially poignant for those of us with aging (or deceased) parents.

bibliotechnocrat Sep 23, 2015

The Depression generation can't throw anything away, and this is nowhere more evident than in this memoir centred around the inheritance of an enormous family home filled with detritus and memories. The daunting task of dealing with the strata of decades falls largely to Johnson, the "First Daughter,' whose problematic relationship with her late mother is gradually transformed as Johnson discovers more and more about who her parents really were through the evidence they've left behind. It's a touching narrative of loss, grief, love and hope, and truly a good read.

patcumming Sep 11, 2015

After the death of her mother, Plum Johnson empties her parents' home. In the process, she reflects on family relationships, her mother's life and the challenges of elder care.

n
newsknit
Aug 16, 2015

Reflective and a good reminder that life is about relationships of all sorts.

samdog123 Jul 20, 2015

I don't read much non-fiction, but this book is exceptional! Plum Johnson takes us through the emotional and physical work of going through her parent's home after their deaths. This house is in Oakville, and I've walked past it many times on my walks along the Lakeshore. I really enjoyed reading about Plum's memories of her family and all the other things she discovers about her parents when going through the family home. I can identify with this, having done the same thing, although not with a house this big! for my own parents. Loved reading about all the antiques and collectables. Just a wonderful, nostalgic read that conjures up times gone by.

o
ownedbydoxies
Apr 08, 2015

Actually couldn't get into this one. By the time she finished describing her father's behavior towards the family dog and the whippings he gave her brothers, I made a decision to shelve this one. In fact, reading her details about the dog, I said aloud 'you selfish, f-ing bastard' to whatever remains of her dad and that's the point I figure, yeah maybe I don't need to know anything more about this family. Yuck.


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