An Honest House: A Memoir by Cynthia Reyes

I don’t often reblog but Diane’s review expressed, so perfectly, my feelings about Cynthia’s latest memoir that I couldn’t resist. Thank you, Diane; thank you, Cynthia.

Diane Taylor

An Honest House is a rich memoir that moves through a ten-year period of Cynthia Reyes’s life. In the midst of a successful career, family life with children blooming, she and her husband move to an old farmhouse surrounded by gardens they love. It’s just north of Toronto. Against this idyllic backdrop, PTSD strikes.

An Honest House, a second memoir by Cynthia Reyes An Honest House, a second memoir by Cynthia Reyes

A car accident leaves Reyes with debilitating pain and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its attendant depression, inability to concentrate, inability to sleep, nightmares, regimens of pain killers, difficulty walking and years of physio. The dream house becomes a prison.

In case you are thinking this is a hard luck story, it’s not. Good memoirs bring light into the world, and An Honest House beams light from every page. Bit by bit, from deepest despair to light-hearted jocularity, we accompany Cynthia Reyes as she “grows up”, to use…

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52 thoughts on “An Honest House: A Memoir by Cynthia Reyes

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I bought Kindle editions of Cynthia’s book but I felt I really wanted to hold them in my hands so I also bought the paperbacks. Cynthia’s blog, her words, and her friendship are wonderful companions.

      Reply
  1. Wendy L. Macdonald

    Diane’s review was spot on. It makes me want to read both books again. Actually I already have reread many sections of each. Beautiful writing by a beautiful lady. Thank you for reblogging this as I easily lose track of all the blogs I follow. Diane’s posts are helping me understand much more about “The Gift of Memoir”. I loved her how-to book too.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Glad you enjoyed Diane’s review. I bought the Kindle editions of both of Cynthia’s books, but have since ordered hard copies of both books. I am hoping I will be able to share them with my mother and/or others who like a real book in their hands.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, give it a go! Have you ever done a post on the houses you have lived in? I am sure you would have some wonderful places to show us. Houses or our homes fascinate me. In the forward to Margaret Forster’s My Life in Houses, there is a quote from Leonard Woolf https://www.amazon.com/My-Life-Houses-Margaret-Forster/dp/070118910X?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 which summarizes my thoughts on the houses we live in. As an architect I am sure you agree that a good house contributes to our well being. 🙂

      Reply
  2. roughseasinthemed

    Thanks for visiting mine and commenting on my thoughts about Honest. I think Cynthia deserves endorsement for not just her personal achievements, but the eloquent way in which she writes about them.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That’s lovely to know. Do you follow Cynthia’s blog? The book is the icing on her blog cake. 🙂 She is a very courageous and determined woman.

      Reply
      1. lisadorenfest

        I did not know Cynthia’s blog but will have a look. Unfortunately, I lost internet before I was able to download her book, but I should be able to do so now that we are back on line.

        Reply
  3. Steve Schwartzman

    I don’t often read memoirs, so instead let me mention that the piece in your sidebar’s “Music to my Ears” is familiar from childhood. The Wikipedia piece about Ketèlbey at

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Ket%C3%A8lbey

    says that “In a Monastery Garden” sold more than a million copies. It seems the composer added an accent to his name to show people it was stressed on the middle syllable. I guess he didn’t want to be likened to a kettle.

    According to the article about Ketèlbey, “By the time of his death he had slipped into obscurity. Only a handful of mourners attended his funeral.”

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It’s so nice when readers notice my side bar. Thank you. 🙂 It is a lovely piece of music which I heard for the first time during an interview with Sister Loyola who was the subject of a wonderful NZ documentary called Gardening with Soul http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/gardening-with-soul-2013

      I do like memoirs, diaries, letters, and biographies. Autobiographies sometimes. I have always liked them but now they are my preferred reading material. I suppose one could say that Ketelbey’s memoir is his music.

      Reply
      1. Steve Schwartzman

        At the same website I also watched the half-minute trailer for “Old Man’s Beard Must Go,” featuring David Bellamy. It wasn’t his beard that he said must go, but a Clematis that’s apparently invading New Zealand. On Friday I discovered that one of the best stands I knew of our most common native Texas old man’s beard has been lost to construction. Maybe I should write a memoir about all the properties here that have been lost to me because of development over the past 16 years.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Just before the earthquakes a Christchurch couple printed a book with photographs ( and text ) of all the churches in the Canterbury region. Touring around and identifying all our lovely churches was their hobby and passion.They published the book at their own expense, and I am so glad they did. It is one of my favourite books, and one of my saddest books, because so many of those churches are gone now. The point of this comment…….. to encourage you to produce a memoir of all the lost places in your area. Interestingly ,after the earthquakes, all those areas once built on are returning to wildflowers and native vegetation, and old man’s beard!

      2. Steve Schwartzman

        I understand your nostalgia for the churches, which at least got documented before their demise. It’s good to hear that at least temporarily you’re getting back some of your native vegetation, but I’m sorry the old man’s beard is sneaking in as well.

        Even when I began my native plant photography in 1999 some properties where I’d taken pictures were already getting developed. Occasionally in slide shows that I’ve given over the years since then I’ve included some before/after photographs to show people what had been lost. It has even occurred to me that I could probably sell framed nature photographs to the management of some of the companies now occupying land where I’d worked. That way people in each of those businesses could see how their properties used to look.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I am sure the people who move into the properties have no idea what the landscape looked like before. It would be good for them to know via your photos. Recently, I took a copy of an old photo of mine, added a message, and left it in the mailbox of a house where I used to live. The tenant who wasn’t there when I went by rang me later and was so thankful to have the old photo. He said he would pass it on to the landlord. He invited me to come and look through the house when I was free but I haven’t had time yet.

        2. Steve Schwartzman

          Good for you for leaving a copy of that old photograph. It’s gratifying to connect the present with the past.

          A week ago today was the twelfth anniversary of the day Eve and I began moving into our current house, which was built in 1985. A few years ago there was a knock at the door one day and it turned out to be the original owner of the house. (The people we bought the house from came after that guy.) He wondered if he could look inside for old time’s sake, and I said sure.

  4. April

    Thanks for the review. I think I would like to read the book. Of course, my therapist always asks me questions and one of them was if I thought I had PTSD. How would I know? She is the professional. However, moving across the states was very stressful but everything that happened after that was even more stressful. As my husband and I are readying (slowly) to move to a very small, rural home, I’m wondering how I will handle it. This book sounds like it would be a good read.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Exactly! How would one know? I suspect my grandfather had PTSD (from WW1) but his troubles were never labelled as such, not even diagnosed as far as I know. Cynthia brings light and her own perspective to the subject of living with PTSD. What I see in common with my grandfather’s situation is the important support which comes from a loving spouse and loving family. I would love for you to read Cynthia’s book . 🙂 My daughter has PTSD. She is not yet able to read Cynthia’s book but I tell her stories from it, and she loves that.

      Reply
      1. April

        You know, my dad may have suffered from PTSD from WWII. We had no ideas of the memories he held inside until he was diagnosed with dementia. Short term memory was clouded with hallucinations but his long term memory was clear. He broke down crying when he told my brother about his time in the Navy.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Exactly, exactly. My father doesn’t have PTSD but we have certainly heard some interesting stories in the last few years, and there have been tears. It’s heart breaking really. All the more reason for blogs and books, and people like you and Cynthia to encourage us to talk about mental health.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Great courage, Jo. And, of course, her story is of particular interest to me because of my daughter’s ongoing struggle with PTSD. She is entering her 6th year with it and still cannot say the word “earthquake”. Cynthia shows, in her own lovely way, the story of her own courage and the courage of her family.

      Reply
      1. restlessjo

        It has to be a joint family effort, doesn’t it? A mighty struggle for all concerned. So sorry for your daughter! Sending a few more of those useless but well meant hugs. 🙂 🙂

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is an excellent review.:) I would love to have a hard copy of the book but the postage we pay to Amazon is just too ridiculous. I would rather spend that amount on gifting a Kindle copy to someone.

      Reply
      1. Cynthia Reyes

        I’m laughing as I read this! You are the third reader to mention all the delicious food in the book. Would you believe that I did not realize there was so much food in the book? Haha….

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am so pleased Cynthia found the strength to tell us more of her story. I added An Honest House to my Kindle pile! 😉 But I put it at the top of the pile so I am already well into it.

      Reply
  5. angesco

    Sorry, false alarm. I got it all in the end… Sounds like she’s found much inspiration from dark places.

    xx

    Reply

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