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A Book of Kells:: Growing Up in an Ego Void [Kindle Edition]

Margaret Kell Virany
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

A Book of Kells recalls the lives and unearths the egos of John Kell and Kathleen Ward who meet in 1917 when he is a Canadian sailor stationed in Portsmouth, England. Her father, a Methodist Sunday School teacher, brings him home for tea. Kathleen's sister writes to Jack until she gets married in 1924 and Kathleen takes up the correspondence. Meanwhile, Jack has been getting an education and has spent a year evangelizing the Swampy Cree to whom he plans to return for another five years. When he gets Kathleen's letter it is like manna from heaven. He proposes awkwardly and she asks him to come over for another look. But, when he does, she smashes him at tennis and banishes him to his far northern post. However, they agree to give themselves a year to reconsider. Seventy-two letters get through, even though the native reserve is cut off from civilization for six months of the year. They marry in 1927 and she goes up to Oxford House, Manitoba, by canoe along the old fur trade route. Nine months later, in mid-winter, she treks for five days by horse-drawn cariole to find a place to give birth. When I enter the picture during the Great Depression, a stressed-out minister's wife and three little girls are crammed into a duplex on a working-class street in Toronto. We're working our hearts out as little "examples," trying to help Father. In later years, I discovered an emotional toll to pay. I couldn't sit through a church service without breaking into unrestrained weeping. My teen-age and college years were near-suicidal. What seemed to be the fundamental problem was that I had been trained to put away my ego in favor of redeeming my soul. Still, religion was a great strength, protecting our family from tendencies towards alcoholism and mental illness. I struggle desperately to avoid the pitfall of black sheep, which seemed inevitable for the youngest of three "perfect" minister's daughters. The name of this family voyage recalls the famous ninth-century illuminated gospel manuscript, The Book of Kells.

About the Author

Born on a farm on the northern fringe of Toronto, I got a degree in English Language & Literature and married my Varsity heart throb. Early employment was at the Toronto Telegram, Maclean-Hunter and freelancing for the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Star and Montreal Gazette. My most fun jobs were as professional public relations secretary first of the Montreal YMCA and then of the Toronto YMCA, and as a program organizer of CBC-TV's first live nationally televised conference The Real World of Woman (1961). Following a move to Canada's capital region, I became editor/co-owner of the weekly newspaper in my home town of Aylmer, QC and had the busiest, best career of a lifetime. Upon discovering the keepsake box full of love letters, journals and photos my parents left, I published A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void. It records my family's lives and my uneasy coming of age as a minister's daughter. Then I wrote Kathleen's Cariole Ride recounting my parents' transatlantic courtship and adventures living on a Cree reserve in the north. At the 2012 Centennial Conference honoring the literary critic, Northrop Frye, I learned that my notes of his lectures would be among those posted on the fryeblog, available for public download. This success brought me back to the day when I dropped out of college for a year and learned shorthand on my very first job, as a receptionist at the 'Tely'.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 365 KB
  • Print Length: 205 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0969914210
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Virany&Virany (CreateSpace); Third edition (Sept. 21 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00440DQNA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Kells Nov. 11 2010
Format:Paperback
Margaret Kell Virany tells in superb writing style almost a century of her family story, notable that of her mother Kathleen, a courageous British women who made immense personal sacrifices, left everything behind - family, friends and way of life - to follow her husband in 1927, as (probably) the last war bride from WWI.

War brides, moved thousands of miles away - usually to Canadian cities, villages and farms - joining their husband, a man they barely knew. But Kathleen's future husband, a minister, worked and lived on an extremely remote reservation in Canada's wilderness close to Hudson Bay in Canada's North.

It is a fascinating social history, describing challenges and details of pioneer life on this Northern reserve and struggle in a minister's family, by using old love letters, photographs and diaries of her parents.

Many touching stories and exciting details include canoe trips along the old fur trade route, generous native neighbors, a dangerous journey to hospital in mid-winter on a horse drawn toboggan to deliver her baby, life-threatening forest fires, pre-television social life and her daughters friendship with Tim (Miles) Horton, the later famous NHL star.

I red "A Book of Kells" with great pleasure, almost non-stop, it is a real page turner and I highly recommend it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Riveting Search for Ego's and Souls March 4 2012
By Diane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderfully personal tale of one family that sweeps through Canadian history from the 1800's onwards. The descriptions of the ordinary details of life, as well as the big events and traditions, puts the reader into every scene. But the strength of the story is a grown woman searching her family's past for an understanding of her parents' and her egos and souls. Its a both a historical and a psychological story interwoven masterfully into one riveting seamless tale.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Slice of Canadian History March 5 2012
By Sigrid Macdonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A Book of Kells is a fascinating account of the early lives of the author's parents - how they met, the nature of their courtship, and what they did with their lives before and after they had children. Margaret Kell's father, John, was a farmer turned minister. Her mother came from England and together they became missionaries of sorts, being one of the first people - if not the first - to bring the Word and the Bible to the Cree Indians. These parents were strict and devout, living through the Great Depression and the days of the milkman's wagon.

The book is a wonderful historical account of hard-working, devoted Canadians, with powerful scenes such as the parents kayaking and logging for 40 miles in the brutally cold northern Manitoba wind: so cold that the father's nose froze.

It is also a work of candor. Margaret tells it like it is. She is very straightforward talking about relationships, feelings, and her own adult beliefs about religion.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Moving Memoir-Honest And Erudite March 24 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is a moving memoir of a personal journey of a grown woman who wished to reconstruct, examine and understand what exactly was the relationship and love her parents shared between themselves and in turn were able to bequeath to their children and the community to which they belonged. It lovingly reconstructs without passing judgement how the parents met in England, what prompted them to move to Canada. It details a period in History in a first person account of someone who had lived through the turmoil of the war and was thus better able to give a dispassionate account
of events in Europe and their repercussions abroad. The descriptions were vivid as they were witnessed. The settings especially the one where her Mother accuses her Father of neglecting her and taking her for granted, the breakdown and then an attempt at reconciliation will remain forever etched in my mind. Has the Author been able to forgive her Father for neglecting her Mother?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different and interesting July 16 2012
By BRENDA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another book written from letters. Enjoyed this book and the historical background is always intriguing to me.Learned much about early Canada and their natives. Recommend this book.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating story May 11 2012
By MJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The story was romantic and unique, and definitely worth reading. It made you want to learn more about the characters. The book could be improved with some editing and perhaps some work on fleshing out the story and developing the characters a little more.
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