“And Then Like My Dreams” by Margaret Rose Stringer (Not A Review)


This is not a review. I don’t like book reviews. To me, reading a book is such a subjective act, how can one assess the quality of a book with true neutrality? With a book, one person may snort with laughter, drawing attention from fellow commuters on the train while another gets only ten pages in and wonders what was so funny. Or one may find the richness and sophistication of a narrative inspiring while another has no idea what the author is talking about.

Those who have already stumbled across the blog of Margaret-Rose Stringer (better known as M-R out here in the Blogosphere) will know that she has written a book. She claims she began the blog as a publicity vehicle for her book. Whatever the reason, I am glad she did. She is a fresh, wicked voice in the Blogosphere and book or no book, long may she reign.

I’ve read her book – And Then Like My Dreams {a memoir} – the story of her life with Charles ‘Chic’ Stringer, master stills photographer in the Australian film industry. But I’m not going to review it. What I am going to do is offer a response – the depths of my feelings while reading this remarkable book.

I must first confess that I had to put this book down twice before I got to page three. That’s not M-R’s fault. She describes the impending death of her beloved Chic and the news of her father’s death on those first two pages with such raw emotion that I, having lost my own father mere days before, could not read those passages without time to recover. But such is her writing that it was only minutes before I just had to pick it up again to see what else she had to say.

I feel I’ve got to know M-R’s voice pretty well through her blog and reading her book was like an extended conversation. Well, okay, she was talking and I was listening so it was a somewhat one-sided conversation, but as she had such a great story to tell, I didn’t mind.

This book made me laugh loudly, cry quietly and – being a sheltered wallflower – blush frequently. I moved through anticipation of the beginning to dread of the ending.

It almost drove me mad that my life went crazy just as this book arrived in the post. It meant little time to read and this was a book I didn’t want to put down. So desperate was I to keep reading, more than once it fell out of my hands late at night as I squeezed in what reading time I could before my eyes got the better of me and closed against my wishes.

Some of her memories are described in film script form. I loved these, having grown up reading and memorising Monty Python and Goon Show scripts. It set the scene perfectly and gave me a visual response to whatever memory she was conveying.

Her pithy little footnotes were also a delight. I do so love a pithy footnote.

I was insanely jealous in parts – of her experiences, her travels, her oh-so-capable husband (he builds their house, for Pete’s sake!).

The last quarter of the book is a difficult read. In fact, I almost contacted M-R to tell her the promised review would not be forthcoming as I wasn’t sure I could finish the book. Having watched my father’s deterioration and death less than a year after his diagnosis of mesothelioma, this section of their story hit a little too close to home. I can imagine it an emotional read for anyone who has watched a loved one battle cancer.

But I felt I owed it to M-R and to her beloved Chic to finish the story. To know and to understand the whole story.

So, after a not-so-little cry and a good blow of the nose, I pushed on. I’m glad I did and I encourage anyone who feels the emotion too much to keep going. There is hope and light and laughter to be had in the ending of the story.

I know that M-R did not write this book for fame (it is so often fleeting anyway) or fortune (she assures us this is certainly not forthcoming) but because she wanted as many people as possible to know about her wonderful and amazing husband. I encourage you to read this book and meet this most remarkable of men.

M-R, thank you for sharing your story and your ‘Stringer’ as you loved to call him. I am so glad to have met him. I am only sorry not to have shared one of Chic’s meals with you both over a bottle of Italian red. I do so love an Italian red. And what fun that would have been.

Check out Margaret-Rose Stringer’s blog here for details on how to purchase this book. Then buy it. Then read it. Trust me.



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37 thoughts on ““And Then Like My Dreams” by Margaret Rose Stringer (Not A Review)

  1. Wow. I am really glad you don’t believe in book reviews. But I have to say…I now HAVE to read this book! I’m sorry it was such bad timing on the subject matter at the beginning of the book, but I’m so glad you had “company” in the horrible place you were/are.


  2. A great review. I finally reached M-R’s book in the stack of books to read on my bedside table. My reaction to the first few pages echoed yours.
    M-R has such a rich writing style, I feel like I’ve been drawn into her life. I’m looking forward to burying myself further into her powerful writing.


  3. I so enjoyed your post. A book review hidden within a non book review.
    I send my sympathy to you on the loss of your father. Having read and reviewed M-R’s book I can so appreciate how challenging it must have been to push through. Like you I couldn’t put it down and I confess many pages have grown dog ears at those pithy footnotes which I feared I might not find again. Thank you for your honest and touching ‘response’ to the read.


  4. How beautifully written! M-R has such a clear voice when she writes about her life with Chic. I loved the book, too, and I think you captured why it is so compelling. This is a quality un-review! 🙂


  5. M-R nudged me in your direction this morning. 🙂 I haven’t read the book. My eyes often fall shut in the bath and I almost dunk my book in. But I will now seek it out. Thanks for sharing.


  6. I am sorry to hear about your Father’s death. It is hard to watch someone you love suffer and then heartbreaking when it is over and they are finally at peace. Despite your own sadness you did a great job with M-R’s book. She’ll probably see a huge blip in the number of sales which will thrill her as her beloved Stringer will be known to many more.


  7. I agree with every word and I, too, know what it is like to sit with a beloved dying father, though I’ve had more time than you to accustom myself to that event. Your non-review was masterly in conveying the delights as well as the heart-grabbing effects of this book. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not easy, is it? I’m still at the stage of having to remind myself that he’s gone. We’ve held a monthly family dinner for years and this weekend will be the first without him. That will be a tough one.
      Thank you for your lovely comments.


  8. I, too, enjoyed your non-review. I’ve read two reviews of it now, yours and Hilary Custance Green’s and feel I simply must add this book to my list. Beautifully written and I extend my sympathies on the loss of your father.


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