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Review: His Father’s Will

By Suzanne Clark

You know you’ve read a good book when you start slowing down because you don’t want the book to end. That is how His Father’s Will by Suzanne Clark gripped me.

Mainly based on Sue’s own grandfather’s life story, the book is written as a novel, yet it brings home so clearly the contrasts of pioneer life in New Zealand and the life risks faced by so many children in the early 1900s at an age when today’s youngsters are joyfully anticipating a transition from pre-school to primary school. Nowadays the rules of Health and Safety may be seen as restrictive, but the comparison offered by the life journey of Will and his five siblings will fill you with awe.

Family Skeletons

The novel is filled with iconic New Zealand scenery, history, pioneer trappings and tools which add to the flavour of the tale. There are good and bad or ‘trapped’ characters as well as the helpful and kind – each helping to flesh out the story of Will son of William Tyrell.

Sue’s writing is easy to read and the storyline holds your attention, which is probably a challenge when based so closely on the real life actions of a real life family. Family skeletons are unmasked, as are the institutions that were supposed to care for deprived children. Considering their tough upbringing most of the children lived beyond their three score years and 10.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Old Records Herald a Story

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

A little left behind the tide of Spotify and iTunes, I purchased a couple of years ago a turntable on which to play the records I had collected in the 1060s and 1970s.

Back to the future

What fun I’ve had as I’m flooded by the memories and melodies of those decades – the lyrics full of promise and blind faith that life would always be filled by the sentiments expressed within the tracks. As you can imagine there were a lot of golden oldies. But how I enjoyed the sounds, coloured as they were by the filter of those good old days. (I never thought I’d EVER say that!)

Ian_SylviaTyson

Music changes as the decades pass and newer generations have also marked their special moments with songs of significance. Often it’s the singer not the song that matters. And realising this I embarked on a remarkable journey into the life-story of one of the singers in an album I purchased – Four Strong Winds by Ian and Sylvia Tyson. I wanted to know what became of these singer song writers who were equally at home singing songs penned by Bob Dylan as blue grass and folk.

Sylvia Tyson as a member of the group Quartette

Early lyrics set their stars

Originally Sylvia Fricker, Sylvia started performing in 1959 and then joined Ian Tyson in the folk duo, Ian and Sylvia. The first song she wrote that gained acclaim was “You Were On My Mind”. It hit the charts in 1962, and three years later it reached #3 on the Billboard chart for a group called We Five, and then rose through the British charts as a hit for Crispian St Peter.

Contemporaries of Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, The Band, and Janis Joplin, the Tysons continued as a duo from the early sixties until 1975 when they broke up(personally and professionally), but both remained active in musical circles. Ian, a longtime rancher and cowboy country singer, still lives on the same south-of-Calgary ranch he bought with royalties from Young’s cover of “Four Strong Winds.” Sylvia became (eventually) a member of Quartette, a collaboration of four women and singer-songwriters.

Quartette formed in the early 90s, and used their distinctive voices to create amazing harmonies in country and folk styles. Click Here for a little sample.

From left: Gwen Swick, Sylvia Tyson, Caitlin Hanford and Cindy Church.

Not surprisingly, in 1994 Quartette won the Canadian Country Music Association‘s award for best vocal collaboration. The following two years the group was nominated in the category of best country group at the Juno Awards.

More than just a songwriter

One of the more unusual outputs from Sylvia Tyson has been the recent release of a novel and related MP3 – Joyner’s Dream. A mixture of folksy strings and guitar with voice thrown in, I can imagine the music being used as background music for a film version of the novel. Maybe that is what Sylvia, now in her seventies, had in mind.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author