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A Life in Shadow:: Divine Spark or Chemical Imbalance? Paperback – January 12, 2006


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Paperback, January 12, 2006
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (January 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419611232
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419611230
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,771,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Alan I. Davies, born in 1932, grew up in a working-class family in London's East End. During World War II, he and most other city children, had to be evacuated several times to avoid being killed by the merciless German bombing. The ongoing war, and the need to begin working at whatever jobs were available to an unskilled teenager, undermined his emotional health as well as his chance for a solid education. A turning point occurred when he entered the newspaper business and discovered the world of books. He developed a voracious appetite for reading and learning what he had earlier missed. His attempts at cultvating a writer's life lead to a period of travel overseas. During this time, he fell into a clinical dpression. He felt shame and tried to hide the difficult malady. After eight years of malaise, a new medication enabled him to overcome the illness. He secured a worthwhile job , married, and raised two pretty daughters, both of whom are now hard-working adults. He and his wife currently live in Marietta, Georgia.

Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. A. Pringle on June 12, 2006
As someone who has only ever known peace time England, and whose generation is post National Service requirements, it was eye opening to read about the author's experiences as an evacuee and unwilling conscript. These wittily recounted memories, together with his working through of the psychological aftermath of his wartime upbringing as recorded in his diaries, paint a vivid picture of life as faced by working class families in post depression England.

It is frightening to realise that there are many children of World War 2 who like the author will have felt `let down' by the educational system and who will have had to really struggle in order to achieve opportunities that post-war children have taken for granted.

The anger and bitterness the author feels at the deck that life has dealt him are almost tangible, the wilderness wanderings that are now the equivalent of `gap years' very understandable and the eventual immergence from the darkness of frustration and depression, with a life that puts him on a par with many `normal' families must surely give hope to others who feel that they too have been betrayed.

The author achieves this in his writing with a diary of accurate recollections often recorded in a humorous manner, and it is this that makes it so entertainingly readable. As with all psychoanalytical biographies, it is very ego-centrical, but it could be anyone's story; anyone that is whose childhood contains early trauma with long term deep seated effects, such as are caused by war, bereavement or an inherent sense of failure.

It is a really enjoyable read that not only reminds us of the effects of wartime disruption on innocent children - effects that are probably still perpetuated today - but could also explain some of the attitudes held by many others of the author's age-group who underwent similar experiences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. L. Campbell on May 5, 2006
A child of a blue-collar family in London's grungy pre-WWII East End, Alan Davies endured prolonged separations from his parents imposed by the British government to protect children from the ravages of Hitler's bombing blitz and subsequent V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks. Deprived of formal education beyond age 14 because of the war, Davies embarked on a life-long program of self-improvement through extensive reading and night school courses, determined to rise above Britain's class-ridden society.

A conscientious journal-keeper from an early age, he has produced this remarkable book recounting his experiences as a 22-year-old emigrant to Canada and his peripatetic life, accompanied by his friend Eddie, across Canada and the United States from east to west, and in reverse again, followed by an extensive incursion into Mexico and several returns to Britain. They traveled by seond-hand auto, prone to frequent breakdowns, as well as by bus and hitch-hiking, surviving on earnings from various jobs obtained at a number of prolonged stops along the way.

Davies writes of periods of near despair interspersed with flashes of delightful humor, telling of often bizarre encounters with people and circumstances. A notable example of the latter was the two friends' ill-advised attempt to climb a 17,000-foot dormant volcano in Mexico that almost ended in disaster. In perceptive detail Davies comments on attitudes, living conditions, and mores of British, Canadian, American and Mexican inhabitants with whom he interacted during his peregrinations.

In his early thirties, Davies' fortunes took a decided turn for the better when he obtained employment with American post exchange facilites for the U.S. armed forces in Europe.
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I have to start this review with a confession: I know Alan Davies personally, and I was part of the critique group that listened and gave helpful suggestions when Alan was birthing his memoir.

Having said that, it is a real pleasure to read the finished product, all 411 pages, instead of just a few pages here and a few pages there. Although the book is long, it is well-written and easy to read. It is jam-packed with amusing and interesting stories, along with some that are sadder.

Alan skillfully weaves what was going on in the world into his personal story to give you the historical context and how it affected him personally. He is also honest and open about his life (without putting himself down), both the good parts and the bad. Having personally struggled with depression, I know how hard it can be to talk about, let alone admit and own fully.

Having read all of Alan's adventures that he had up to his marriage and age 34, I wonder what happened during the rest of his life. How did he end up in Georgia, for instance? Within the book itself, some things just suddenly happen - for instance, his sister Vera suddenly has a child and husband, and I'm wondering, when did she get married? Granted, the book is about Alan, not his sister, but I still wondered. There is also the minor annoyance of typos and extra periods, but easily overlooked.

I choose to believe Alan has a "divine spark", and I hope lots of people buy his book!
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By John Toben on September 5, 2007
As a lesson to all: Read and you will learn.
Alan is self taught and his stubbornness and his 'Never give up' spirit, is an inspiration for all of us. Had he had 'every thing served on a silver platter' we may never have had a chance to read his delightful adventures across several continents, and smitten by his wanderlust.
Alan remembers his blue collar Father reading several News papers a day, from cover to cover. Even if he was born in a duck pond, he came out a Royal Swan.
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