biography

The Stranger in my Life

The Stranger in my Life
Janet Holt & Helen Parker
Biography, Creative non-fiction
Kindle
1 January, 2014
E-book
366

I was first made aware of Janet Holt's book, 'The Stranger in my Life' when I read 'Take Three Birds', a sort of autobiographical travelogue co-written by Jill Pennington, Tottie Limejuice and Janet Holt. Both Jill and Tottie made various mentions of the difficult times Janet had been through in her past, and also that she had written a book to tell her personal story.

My curiosity was piqued, and as soon as I completed 'Take Three Birds' I delved straight into Janet's story.

All through the book I had to remind myself that I was reading a true story -- Helen Parker, who wrote the story for Janet, is what I would describe as a skilled creative writer of non-fiction. In spite of the book using considerable use of backtracking in order to put events into perspective, at no point did I feel confused by the frequent shift in time. Perhaps it was her use of first person point of view which rendered the whole more credible in spite of the seemingly far-fetched subject matter.

In substance, Janet Holt loses all recollection of a few days of her life during March 1976. The story tells of her quest to resolve the puzzle which has haunted her for some 34 years, during which time she suffered terrible nightmares and frequest bouts of anxiety. Nonetheless, she manages to successfully run a farm and hold down rewarding employment and a long-standing relationship for much of that time.

Thanks to the concern of a close friend, in 2010 she seeks out medical care to find the root of her anxiety problems. The sessions with the psychologist lead to a series of revelations which deeply affect her and present her with a new set of problems to resolve.

I found the writing very convincing and at no time did I question that I was in Janet's head as she lived through each phase of her traumatic story. Top marks to Helen Parker for her role in the creation of the finished work, and to Janet who opened up her amazing story to the general public.

NB. Don't do as I did -- I Googled Janet to understand her story more fully, and ended up 'spoiling' the end for myself!