Books Review February 2012
Up The Wooden Hill by Jill Schaefer is a 180-page historical memoir divided over 32 chapters with 32 small black and white photos. The book is about growing up in England and Germany before, during and after WWII, featuring two tales seen through different viewpoints. Stories of love, war, tears, laughter, families, friends and foes. From school days fraught with sibling rivalry and controversies with parents, to lives rebuilt, the Deutsche mark revalued and a father de-nazified. Both the young people mentioned in the book learn apprenticeships, experience love and the beginning of a post-war world. The book’s cover is a collage of 12 photos significant to the book (dancing couple, Sir Winston Churchill, London, British flag, Nazi flag and troops, Hitler, big black poodle dog and the Late Night Confessions Nun!)
Author Jill has lived on California’s West Coast for the past thirty-five years, fifteen years in Santa Barbara and Goleta and twenty in Lompoc. She, her late husband and three sons emigrated from England and Germany in 1974.
The story starts off with the author “venturing into the attic of her parent’s home in London, Jill stumbles upon belongings from the past, including a family history compiled from a photo album.” The non-titled chapters continue the conversation of the couple as they sit and review the photo album and exchange perspectives of their memories.
Comments by the author – Jill’s daughter-in-law Michelle: “Often in school we get only a glimpse of the history of the WWII era, as told from US military and political perspectives, but what intrigued me so much about this book is getting the firsthand, slice of life feeling of what it was actually like to be a young person coming of age in this time period. You get to learn not only about the challenges but also the optimism of these two growing up and looking for fun and adventure wherever they could find it.
“The writer takes you back then forward as you grow up with these two people – from once opposing countries – and share in their culture and eventually in their meeting and marrying. For me one of the amazing aspects of this book was that these were two people’s actual lives and the tale told from two perspectives, two cultures and from two countries.”
Jill is also the author of Coming of Age in California – English Style – which is a lighthearted account of the author’s true story of herself, a naive English teen, fresh from home and convent school, venturing forth with a girlfriend to the California of the nineteen-fifties.
Up The Wooden Hill is available at CreateSpace.com/3580244 (discount ZT5D2K4E) or Amazon.com/dp/1461003903. Also it is available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle.