Love and the LifeBook
At the heart of many a LifeBook sits a love story which brings pleasure to authors and readers alike.
Some of the best stories are love stories. The reason, it may be fair to say, is that everyone can have a love story of their own. Few of us can solve a crime (although some of our authors have done so!), travel to a mythical land or lead a revolution, but there is at least hope that a love story is attainable for us all. It might not be lifelong and it might not be extraordinary, but it’s usually a wonderful thing for those who are asked to tell theirs.
On Valentine’s Day, I had a think about some of the LifeBooks I’ve had the privilege of working on and about how love has been the foundation of so many. In doing so, I noticed some common threads as to what makes working on and producing such books so special for all involved.
The first joy of a love story comes for the storyteller, the memory recaller. Telling their interviewer the story for the first time gives them a chance to comb over fondly remembered details, to reminisce with their loved one and to say, perhaps at a time of life in which they’re not able to be as active as they once had been, “Look at what we did and what we achieved together!”
For some, it’s a chance to reflect and to relive times spent with a lost love. Many authors have enjoyed the opportunity of introducing someone special to the next generation of their family, to people who weren’t able to know them in person. Before Christmas, we delivered a memoir called Love Across the Seas, which similarly gave the author’s children a rich insight into her relationship with their father, who had spent so much time away at sea in the navy. The author used excerpts from their love letters to each other to build a greater picture of her husband and of the impressive work he’d been part of while away from home.
A regular treat for the whole LifeBook Memoirs team is to work with couples who write their books alongside each other. It’s always fascinating to hear two sides of what may at first appear to be the same story but which often turn out to be very different indeed! I have noticed that, when asked about their wedding, many a wife/bride will remember the dress, the cake, the flowers, the service, the guests, the reception and any family dramas before the event in great detail. The husbands/grooms, on the other hand, tend to remember little more than the uncomfortable rented suit they wore and the bill! It is also surprising how often a couple can entirely disagree on the events of their life together; a married couple I’m currently working with disagree as to when and where they met ‒ a debate that has endured for 70-something years!
Perhaps more importantly, working with a couple has been known to bring renewed confidence to one partner or the other. Often, especially with more mature couples in their 80s and 90s, the wives primarily played homemaker roles and it’s common for them to need more encouragement in order to feel that they have as much of a story to tell as their more career-focused spouses. By the time their projects have concluded, they almost always feel a greater sense of achievement and both authors see in greater detail, perhaps for the first time, how they’ve both worked hard to build the life together that they enjoy.
Then, when the lovers have told their stories, they are shared with family and friends. Like the authors of any book, our authors often feel nervous or apprehensive about the reception their work will receive. Inevitably, however, and without fail, they find themselves bowled over by how much joy their stories have brought to those closest to them. Some authors find it particularly thrilling to have reminded their grandchildren and great-grandchildren that they were once young too and faced similar affairs of the heart!
It is perhaps inevitable that so many of our books have love at their core. LifeBook Memoirs’ philosophy is that everyone has a story to tell and that no legacy is too small to share, and love stories, after all, are amongst the strongest legacies which can be left to a family.
Isabella Samuels, LifeBook Memoirs project manager
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