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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on December 3, 2000
Here is a memoir that deserved far more care in editing than it received. As a result, the misspellings and anachronisms seriously detract from the pleasure of reading about one of the most eccentric families ever. As the overactive only child of two truly fascinating people, Catherine Gildiner started working in her father's pharmacy at the age of four. Her adventures with customers and with her peers, but most especially with her parents are told with great good humor and kindness. Unfortunately, the problems mentioned above get in the way so badly that it made for tedious, sometimes maddening reading of what would, with judicious editing, have been a wonderful autobiographical piece. Just to cite two examples: the Jackie Gleason show aired on Saturday nights, not on Fridays. And the spelling of famous names often varies within a single paragraph.
Unfortunate, too, are the last few chapters. They come as a letdown to an otherwise thoroughly engaging memoir. Ms. Gildiner deserved far better treatment. One can only hope that her next publisher/next editor will do the job right.
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on April 25, 2016
This book is so entertaining! I love the fact that I'm familiar with the area - and era. It had been recommended by a friend and I couldn't find it in the local bookstore so took a chance and looked on it for a great price and received it in a timely fashion.
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on March 22, 2001
One of the very best memoirs I have ever read and I specialize in girlhood memoirs. Born in the same year as the author, I very much enjoyed her recollections of how it was to grow up female in the early fifties. However the writer's childhood was undoubtedly more eccentric and adventurous than mine and probably most of our contemporaries. Her recounting of the wonderful and unique characters she encountered and how they shaped her perceptions of life is both hilarious and deeply affecting. I am truly grateful that she has brought them into my life to entertain and educate me as well. This book ends as she begins her teen years. Should she write a sequel, and I fervently hope she will, I will be first in line to buy it. This book is quite simply a remarkable reading experience!
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on May 22, 2001
A beautifully written memoir - my mother recommended it to me, that's always a plus. The author really made me feel connected to her, and women/girls growing up in general. Although my childhood was completely different (on the surface), I could completely identify with the feelings and experiences Gildiner describes. Too Close to the Falls is one of those archetypal stories that describes a life that we've all lived to some extent. Message to the author: PLEASE WRITE A SEQUEL!
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on January 7, 2002
I grew up in Lewiston 20 years after Ms. Gildiner (in the same neighborhood, I believe) and really enjoyed her book. She did a great job at capturing the essence of the place... small town charm filled with careless (dangerous) adventures in the gorge and river plus an assortment of oddball characters. I make it a point to visit at least once a year. The only problem I had was that she seemed to stretch her facts a bit at times. Catherine, did you really ride your sled from the power project cliffs to the Riverside Inn? I need some clarification on that one.
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on December 19, 2009
I suppose we all have the memories within ourselves which would enable us to write an autobiography, but few persons manage to put pen to paper and create a book such as "Too Close To The Falls: A Memoir". I was captivated from the very first chapter and was most disappointed when I reached the end. As a result I went back and reread certain chapters. One of my favourites was the one about the arrival of the television. I could imagine peeking into the living room watching Catherine decorating her TV (shrine?) with packs of Camel cigarettes in time for John Cameron Swayze's nightly visit with his "Camel Caravan". It was fascinating to read of her early years with her off-beat family. She had so much energy that she burned if off by working at her father's Drug Store tarting at 4 years of age. How she and Roy became a team is a great story in itself.

I grew up in Toronto not too far from Lewiston (and Niagara) as the crow flies, during the same time period. Reading her book triggered many similar memories of my youth. As an example, I remember visiting Niagara Falls while some outdoor pieces of the movie set used in "Niagara" were still in place (the motel). I'm glad she has such a good memory.

I heard Catherine being interview on CBC radio. After the interview I ordered a copy of both her biographical books from Amazon. I was not disappointed.

Ron Vanderburgh
Shallow Lake, Ontario
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on December 18, 2009
Too Close to the Falls is supposed to be a true story; it comes off as surreal bio that strains credulity. I purchased Catherine Gildiner's book and her sequel after hearing her being interviewed on CBC radio. In that delightful interview she spoke of times in her life covered in both books. She is an excellent, humourous oral racconteur. Alas, her speaking skills do not translate as well to the written page. It is a good read, to be sure and it easily passed my test of interest, reading uninterupted by other books' attention.

The fault I find is her attempt to capture the innocent's POV so many years later while relating details which would have had little meaning to a child but which the author must explain to make the story meaningful.

The author is of my generation and the references she makes ring true. But that they were experienced by one so young ( age four to eight for much of the tale ) is difficult to imagine. The nub of her story is her early bestriding of the child/adult worlds enabled by her unconventional parents. Her mother in particular stands out as a work of fancy rather than reality. She strikes me as tragi-comical, a combination of Blanche Dubois and June Cleaver.

The sequel should prove easier to accept, as Catherine's life as teenager should be free of the aforementioned drawbacks.
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on August 7, 2001
This magical book came into my hands from two separate sources (in the same week--go figure) and has been shared with others since. One friend claims it completely changed her life and promptly went out, bought another 3 copies and passed them along to her friends. If you've ever felt that somehow you were an odd kid, this charming and insightful book is a great way to see challenges strengthen and enhance a woman's character, probably much like it did yours. I want a sequel.
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on July 4, 2001
I grew up in Lewiston, which during my childhood was a small, sleepy village where my father was mayor for four terms (He ran on both tickets!) Tho I left a few years before this book, I recognized names and places the author mentioned.
My Catholic school education differed from hers, as I went to a different school but am enthralled with her changes, both as a Catholic and a person.
I had heard only sketchy stories about the take over of the Tuscarora land and was incensed when I read her account.
I'm almost finished with it, and I hate to get to the last page. At some point, I'm sure I'll reread it and digest more.
Good book! Excellent storytelling!
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on June 1, 2000
Shades of Russell Baker's Growing Up--thank goodness for writers like Dr. Gildiner who with such enormous talent bring us back to relive the joys, tears, injustices, delights of childhood--her writing brought me closer to my kids as she refreshed my understanding of how people learn about life and love--I'm waiting for volume II please.
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