Book review: Journey Around My Family

Journey Around My Family is a poignant, albeit confusing memoir by Jan Gross.
Journey Around My Family is a poignant, albeit confusing memoir by Jan Gross.

BOOK: Journey Around My Family

AUTHOR: Jan Gross

PUBLISHER: Sid Harta Publications Pty Ltd


JAN Gross worked as a solicitor before retiring to look after her husband who was suffering from dementia.

When he died in 2003, Jan, a keen reader, cook and sports spectator, decided to embark on a journey which she hoped would assuage her grief.

Her family and friends, far from encouraging her, disapproved of Jan undertaking a trip, leaving only a day after the funeral.

Nor could she escape from them as letters and phone calls followed her.

Retracing holidays that she took with her husband, Jan is determined to overcome their anger and hers.

Travelling around Tasmania, her memories come back to haunt her, while she tries to immerse herself in the island's history and its forgotten indigenous people, and soak up its beauty.

These memoirs are interspersed with vignettes of a visit alone to Western Australia, taken many years before. Here Jan attempts to retrace family history.

She went to blot out memories and absorb the sights, but wasn't prepared for how much the past intruded.

Overall I found her writing confusing and fragmented.

Over two pages she jumps from Fremantle, WA to Cradle Mountain, then to the isle of Capri, to Melbourne, and then back to Strahan. While inevitably, one memory triggers another, it doesn't really hang together in the recounting, with irrelevant detail clogging the story.

Jan's chronicle of self-discovery is poignant but needs tighter organisation and less side-tracking.

Topics:  book review entertainment reading

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