Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Daddy’s Rules – Rachel Sontag

Memoir 4*'s

I picked this book up at a second-hand book sale to raise funds for Guide Dogs for the Blind and it has sat on my shelf since October unopened. This morning I picked it up to read the first few pages whilst I was running a bath and read right until the end.

Stories about families fascinate me. I didn’t have what you could call a conventional childhood and so I have an almost prurient interest in what happens in other families, particularly dysfunctional ones. Rachel Sontag illustrates perfectly just how easy it is for everything to go badly wrong for some families.

This memoir is written in a way which never seems to exaggerate the psychological abuse Rachel suffered at the hands of her father but at the same time leaves the reader in no doubt about how damaging this was. Of course this kind of abuse is the hardest to detect, the hardest to reason with and the hardest to do anything about. Steve Sontag played his part in public (mostly) and appeared to be a hard-working, funny, Jewish doctor but behind closed doors, and often in public places his sheer unreasonableness, the lectures dressed up as life lessons endlessly repeated and the damaging way he viewed her every action continued until Rachel was at breaking point . I say was, because ultimately this is a positive book, Rachel had the strength of character to live her life and this book is her story of how she did so.

Families are complicated, no two operate in the same way and there is often a cast of many, whether that cast is separated by distance or emotions all have a part to play. Rachel tells the story of her ‘monster’ of a father but also the story of her ineffective mother and her ‘invisible’ sister. A story where all the normal relationships were turned on their heads as these three tried in their own way to avoid being the one who Steve Sontag noticed, as being noticed was never good in this household.

A good book to read for those who want an insight on how a certain combination of parents can be catastrophic and that psychological abuse is no less damaging for the lack of broken bones.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (October 25)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

We had a really big book sale here on this little island last Saturday in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind. So despite flying home late on Friday evening I was ready to see my best friend to go and see what we could find at 9 am Saturday morning.

I was really restrained and only chose three books all non-fiction, how good am I?

We Danced All Night by Martin Pugh

We Danced All Night

Martin Pugh offers a uniquely untraditional view of Britain’s inter-war period; that among the many dramatic social changes taking place, our modern consumer society of dedicated shoppers effectively took shape during the 1930s. Goodreads

Daddy’s Rules by Rachel Sontag

Daddy's Rules


Her father ruled her world. Her mother couldn’t save her. So she had to save herself.
Rachel Sontag grew up in a family of four whose apparently happy exterior concealed a disturbing pattern of psychological abuse by her father and a distressing passivity on her mother’s part.
Rachel was a bright and loving girl who tried to please her parents. But nothing was ever good enough for her pathologically controlling father, who would drag her out of bed in the middle of the night and force her to repeat after him: ‘I’m stupid, I’m worthless, I wish I had never been born’. Her mother, on and off anti-depressants and entirely under the sway of her husband, could – or would – do nothing but watch.
As Rachel’s family slowly crumbles under the pressure of a man who refuses to accept his children for what they are, Rachel is forced to ever greater extremes in order to free herself from his crushing grip, in this compelling and beautifully written memoir. Amazon

The Human Mind by Robert Winston

The Human Mind


Professor Winston takes us deep into the workings of the enigmatic human mind and shows us how we can boost our intelligence and dip into creative powers we never knew we had. By becoming the master of our own mind, we can break old habits, fight bad moods, keep our brain fit as we enter old age, and prevent illness. But perhaps the great paradox is this: because ultimately the human mind is all we have to help us understand itself, science may never quite explain everything about the complex and mysterious object that makes each of us who we are. Amazon

I have also added one more to my TBR which took my fancy.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein which I came across on Chrissie Reads 

Code Name Verity


Two young women become unlikely best friends during WWII, until one is captured by the Gestapo. Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted to each other. But then a vital mission
goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in “Verity’s” own words, as she writes her account for her captors. Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they’ve ever believed in is put to the test… Amazon

The only downside to this is that Elizabeth Wein has another book called Rose Under Fire so this one book may well turn into two!