Tuesday, July 4, 2017

They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson

4 Star

Author Plum Johnson and her three younger brothers experience conflicted feelings of grief and relief when their mother, the surviving parent, dies. 
Now they must empty and sell the beloved family home, which hasn't been de-cluttered in more than half a century. Twenty-three rooms bulge with history, antiques, and oxygen tanks. Plum remembers her loving but difficult parents who could not have been more different: the British father, a handsome, disciplined patriarch who nonetheless could not control his opinionated,extroverted Southern-belle wife who loved tennis and gin gimlets. The task consumes her, becoming more rewarding than she ever imagined. 
Items from childhood trigger memories of her eccentric family growing up in a small town on the shores of Lake Ontario in the 1950's and 60's. But unearthing new facts about her parents helps her reconcile those relationships with a more accepting perspective about who they were and what they valued.

Kathryn - 4 Star

I was handed this book by my mother, she told me I would laugh, so I put it on my shelf for a few months until curiosity took over.    I found this memoir completely enthralling.  

It’s strange to find someone else’s family, history and house full of stuff so engaging.  You wouldn’t think it would be of much interest but the family dynamic and history was diverse enough that I wanted to know more.  More importantly though there’s a cathartic nature to the systematic clearing of her parents’ home that almost everyone can relate to if they have experienced loss.  Though they were expecting their mother to pass (as she was of quite an impressive age) the magnitude of the memories evoked by the sorting of a life time’s worth of things seemed to surprise each of the siblings.   While many would see this as a burden, something to get done, I was gifted with the concept of the joy or accomplishment that can be gained by taking things slowly.   

Sometimes I wished to know more about the author’s own family and then I would remember that this was a memoir and not fiction- that perhaps the family wasn’t too keen on having their daily lived paraded through a novel- but that just shows how naturally this book was written.

 It took her months, granted it was a very big house, and at some points I’m sure she was incredibly frustrated but the author also made me laugh and cry and I am so pleased I took my mother’s advice and read it.  Perhaps it was a message of some kind- to slow down sometimes.

Thank you to my mother for this review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Plum Johnson:
Website      Goodreads


  1. Hi Kathryn, this looks like a goodie. Please bring this over to Books You Loved: July so everyone can see it. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  2. Sounds very good.

    Thanks for your nice review and comments.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog



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