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A daughter is forced to confront the uncomfortable truth of her mother's seemingly ordinary life. By trying to make sense of the past, will she feel able to move on with her future? Honest yet unsentimental and told with abundant love and compassion, Castles in the Air is a profoundly moving portrait of a woman's life, hopes and dreams, in an era when women couldn't have i A daughter is forced to confront the uncomfortable truth of her mother's seemingly ordinary life. By trying to make sense of the past, will she feel able to move on with her future? Honest yet unsentimental and told with abundant love and compassion, Castles in the Air is a profoundly moving portrait of a woman's life, hopes and dreams, in an era when women couldn't have it all.


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A daughter is forced to confront the uncomfortable truth of her mother's seemingly ordinary life. By trying to make sense of the past, will she feel able to move on with her future? Honest yet unsentimental and told with abundant love and compassion, Castles in the Air is a profoundly moving portrait of a woman's life, hopes and dreams, in an era when women couldn't have i A daughter is forced to confront the uncomfortable truth of her mother's seemingly ordinary life. By trying to make sense of the past, will she feel able to move on with her future? Honest yet unsentimental and told with abundant love and compassion, Castles in the Air is a profoundly moving portrait of a woman's life, hopes and dreams, in an era when women couldn't have it all.

30 review for Castles in the Air: A Family Memoir of Love and Loss

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Castles in the Air by Alison Ripley Cubitt was published independently on 25 November 2015 and is a family memoir. Alison Ripley Cubitt has written her mother's story, using her letters and her memories. In her introduction to Castles in the Air, the author explains what made her want to write her mother's story. She talks about one incident that she witnessed in 1967, and how as she grew older she began to question her eight-year-old self. She wondered if her memory was reliable or misunderstood Castles in the Air by Alison Ripley Cubitt was published independently on 25 November 2015 and is a family memoir. Alison Ripley Cubitt has written her mother's story, using her letters and her memories. In her introduction to Castles in the Air, the author explains what made her want to write her mother's story. She talks about one incident that she witnessed in 1967, and how as she grew older she began to question her eight-year-old self. She wondered if her memory was reliable or misunderstood. Alison's mother, Molly Ripley had kept a diary for most of her life and started to write her own memoirs in 1988. When Molly died in 1992, Alison hoped that she could piece together the story, but in the back of her mind, she was still a little scared. Remembering that day in 1967, and knowing that the truth would be revealed in her mother's writing. Molly's story begins in 1937, she was eleven-years-old and her family were about to leave England. They were setting sail for the Far East where her father was about to take up an intriguing job offer. This is certainly a book of two halves. The first, and for me, the most fascinating part is told with the help of journals kept by Molly and by her father Don. The details of their life in Hong Kong, Singapore and later Molly's time at boarding school are intriguing. The family move around, leaving one place, as the war escalates, becoming separated and experiencing difficulties and hardships that young Molly could not have imagined. Throughout this, Molly corresponded with family friend Steve. Readers are only aware of her letters to him, it would have been really interesting to read his replies as it is clear that young Molly is besotted by him. I'd love to know more about Steve's life, and his feelings towards her. The second part of Castles in the Air has a feeling of sadness about it. The young, vibrant, lively Molly that readers have followed becomes a totally different person as she ages. Life is not easy for her, and she battles many demons of her own, along with her husband's insecurities and illnesses. This is a starkly honest memoir, and at times it can be quite uncomfortable to read, I imagine that writing this could have been painful for Alison Ripley Cubitt. It is clear that she uncovers truths about her mother that do answer her questions, but also uncover sadness and pain. An honest memoir and a fascinating piece of social history. http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    2 stars for this barely okay book chronicling a mother's life in the 50's, 60's and 70's. I am not quite sure what Alison's motivation was for writing this book. Her mother Molly had an interesting life, living in Hong King, Singapore and Malaysia as a child, then Mombasa as a young adult, then trains as nurse at Guys Hospital in England and eventually moves to NZ with her husband Ian. The first part of the book is told in the form of letters written to family friend Steve, with whom she has a clo 2 stars for this barely okay book chronicling a mother's life in the 50's, 60's and 70's. I am not quite sure what Alison's motivation was for writing this book. Her mother Molly had an interesting life, living in Hong King, Singapore and Malaysia as a child, then Mombasa as a young adult, then trains as nurse at Guys Hospital in England and eventually moves to NZ with her husband Ian. The first part of the book is told in the form of letters written to family friend Steve, with whom she has a close relationship and a genuine affection for. This would have been so much more interesting had we been able to read some of Steve's replies! Both Molly and Ian battle depression, Molly's worsened by the drugs she has become addicted to during her years of nursing, when she has used them to combat the effects of erratic shift work. There are large passages of time missing from this book, which I found frustrating. Sorry, but this is not a read I would recommend. This book has a lot of potential and could be vastly improved by a more balanced approach to the writing and some strong editing. Thank you to NetGalley and Lambert Nagle Media for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristian Hall

    Castles in the Air is a memoir written by the daughter of Molly Ripley. It follows Molly's life through a wartime childhood and adolescence through education and worklife, living in several different continents. We get a moving look into Molly and her family, as they struggle with life, including mental health issues and drug abuse. I have to admit I found the first part of this book a hard read. The author has reproduced a lot of the letter correspondence between Molly and her friend, Steve. The Castles in the Air is a memoir written by the daughter of Molly Ripley. It follows Molly's life through a wartime childhood and adolescence through education and worklife, living in several different continents. We get a moving look into Molly and her family, as they struggle with life, including mental health issues and drug abuse. I have to admit I found the first part of this book a hard read. The author has reproduced a lot of the letter correspondence between Molly and her friend, Steve. These letters were not extraordinary enough for me to find a great interest in reading. However, the last two parts of the book was much more interesting to me. It was fascinating to read about the struggles of Molly and her family, as it's all so human. I think it represents a moving example of how life sometimes leads you into very difficult situations.

  4. 4 out of 5

    E.J. Bauer

    This memoir is essentially by two people, the author, Alison, and her mother, Molly. Much of Molly's early life is courtesy of letters she wrote as a teen during the Second World War and her later life is related by her daughter. I found that this gave the memoir a very poignant edge and I had to keep reminding myself of young Molly as I read further, seeing the mother through the eyes of her daughter. I think it takes courage to write about family and as I finished reading, I felt privileged to This memoir is essentially by two people, the author, Alison, and her mother, Molly. Much of Molly's early life is courtesy of letters she wrote as a teen during the Second World War and her later life is related by her daughter. I found that this gave the memoir a very poignant edge and I had to keep reminding myself of young Molly as I read further, seeing the mother through the eyes of her daughter. I think it takes courage to write about family and as I finished reading, I felt privileged to have had a glimpse of Molly's journey.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Val Robson

    Castles in the Air was a fascinating memoir of a family who travel all over the world at a time when most people rarely left their area, let alone went abroad. The tale centres on Molly whose parents worked in the overseas code-breaking operation (an outpost of Bletchley Park) before and during WW2. While an interesting story, I found the writing style frustrating at time. The initial chapters detail a ship's log written by Molly's father as the family travelled from England to Hong Kong. There Castles in the Air was a fascinating memoir of a family who travel all over the world at a time when most people rarely left their area, let alone went abroad. The tale centres on Molly whose parents worked in the overseas code-breaking operation (an outpost of Bletchley Park) before and during WW2. While an interesting story, I found the writing style frustrating at time. The initial chapters detail a ship's log written by Molly's father as the family travelled from England to Hong Kong. There is a lot of trivia about life on the ship but little about the ports they stopped in. I would have preferred this to be written as regular prose, with maybe some extra information about the places visited and what was happening at that period of time. In other places there are extracts from unpublished memoirs and a blog entry. These are referenced within the main test instead of endnotes which I found distracting. The war causes a lot of drama in the family life with them having to move countries several times to escape the enemy. A lot of this is told in the form of letters from teenage Molly to Steve who is a family friend 12 years her elder. There is a gap in the tale, from the last letter to Steve in October 1943 to after the war. The latter half of the book is based on Molly's diary at a stressful time of her life. Again I struggled with the writing as there is a lot of detail of medication Molly was on. So much so that I felt time and time again that a major event was going to be over the page but it wasn't. It's a great story to tell, I just would have liked it to be fleshed out more into one. At present it feels a little like all the research material was put into the final book with the bit between not quite flowing. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark Tilbury

    This is a story of family, love, secrets, and truth written by a daughter about her mother. Alison uses diaries and letters passed on after the death of her mother, Molly, to tell the story of her mother's remarkable life. From an early childhood in Hong Kong, escaping bombing during World War Two and working for an outpost of Bletchley Park, Molly had an eventful life. As the years pass and she marries, has children and becomes a maternity nurse, life begins to take it's toll. Through Molly's o This is a story of family, love, secrets, and truth written by a daughter about her mother. Alison uses diaries and letters passed on after the death of her mother, Molly, to tell the story of her mother's remarkable life. From an early childhood in Hong Kong, escaping bombing during World War Two and working for an outpost of Bletchley Park, Molly had an eventful life. As the years pass and she marries, has children and becomes a maternity nurse, life begins to take it's toll. Through Molly's own words, Alison finds out how much her mother had kept hidden from her family. I thought that this was an interesting memoir that was well constructed. Diary entries and letters written and received by Molly are used well throughout the book. I got the impression that Alison found out a lot about her mother that she wasn't aware of. That being the case, I can only imagine how difficult this book must have been to write. It is a moving book to read. Some parts funny as you see things through a young Molly's eyes, and other times uncomfortable as Alison recounts her mothers troubles in later life. Molly certainly had a life of ups and downs with plenty of drama and tragedy. Alison tells us about it with sensitivity and understanding. A recommended memoir.

  7. 5 out of 5

    CL

    As a young child Alison realizes all is not as it seems with her mother but she is too young to really understand what she has just witnessed. As children we do not ordinarily realize our parents are human until we are adults ourselves and that even our parents have their secrets. Alison uses letters and diaries of her mother Molly to write a very moving story about her mother and faces that she may have never really known her. Great story about a daughter trying to find her path after she uncov As a young child Alison realizes all is not as it seems with her mother but she is too young to really understand what she has just witnessed. As children we do not ordinarily realize our parents are human until we are adults ourselves and that even our parents have their secrets. Alison uses letters and diaries of her mother Molly to write a very moving story about her mother and faces that she may have never really known her. Great story about a daughter trying to find her path after she uncovers her mother’s life and secrets. I would like to thank the Publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this ARC.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    The description intrigued me. I love both fiction and non fiction from this time period so I read through this memoir in a single night. After a young girl witnesses what was meant to be a private moment she begins to question how much she really knows about her mother Molly. The story of Molly's life is told partly through letters and diaries, and a ship's log type journal. It was a bit disjointed at times but worth a read. The description intrigued me. I love both fiction and non fiction from this time period so I read through this memoir in a single night. After a young girl witnesses what was meant to be a private moment she begins to question how much she really knows about her mother Molly. The story of Molly's life is told partly through letters and diaries, and a ship's log type journal. It was a bit disjointed at times but worth a read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Judith Barrow

    Castles in the Air is a form of an epistolary memoir, written by the daughter of Molly Ripley. that, through diary journals belonging to the author’s father, Don, and letters sent by Molly to a family friend, Steve, traces her mother’s life through childhood in wartime and later through her education and work. From the tone of the letters it seems her attraction to Steve lasts well into adulthood. I wondered why his letters were not kept. The story begins when Molly’ is eleven in 1937. Her letter Castles in the Air is a form of an epistolary memoir, written by the daughter of Molly Ripley. that, through diary journals belonging to the author’s father, Don, and letters sent by Molly to a family friend, Steve, traces her mother’s life through childhood in wartime and later through her education and work. From the tone of the letters it seems her attraction to Steve lasts well into adulthood. I wondered why his letters were not kept. The story begins when Molly’ is eleven in 1937. Her letters date from when she and her parents were about to leave England to go to the Far East where her father has important work. These are minutely detailed and, I’m afraid to say, laborious letters of life on the ship, shopping trips, parties, friendships. I would have loved some setting, some information of the world around Molly at this time but, of course, it needs to be kept in mind that this was a child writing. The father’s journals are really sparse notes also. I found the second half of the story more interesting; the accounts of the family’s struggles, financially and emotionally, from the author’s point of view as she sees her parents from a distance. There is both sadness and poignancy threaded throughout the text after Molly’s marriage, the move to Malaysia, to a rubber plantation,back to England, and then on to New Zealand. there is also the interesting/curious continuing friendship with Steve (seemingly resented by Molly’s husband?) And copious accounts of Molly’s drug addiction. Time and again throughout Castles in the Air it occurred to me that it would have been fascinating to use all of Molly’s letter and journals as research for a fictitious story. But I am aware that this is a memoir; lovingly and obviously sometimes painfully written by Alison Ripley Cubitt. The Book Description is so enticing I was eager to read this memoir but I have to say I was disappointed overall. It is a good family memoir which is surely fascinating to and for the author’s family. I think what I wanted more of, was a greater sense of place and more rounded characters. I realise this is probably impossible to glean from the scant details through letters and journals. After writing this review I have looked for Castles in the Air on Amazon. There are some good five star reviews there; it may be this was just not the style of memoir I enjoy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Valerie Poore

    This is one of those books I just opened to have a quick look at and ended up not being able to put it down. I was in the middle of reading something else, which I was enjoying, but Alison Ripley Cubitt's story of her mother's life and how it ultimately affected her whole family grabbed me and held me until I'd finished. It is a moving book on many levels: an unfulfilled love story, a fascinating account of a war-time service family moving about the world, and a sad tale of stress and anxiety res This is one of those books I just opened to have a quick look at and ended up not being able to put it down. I was in the middle of reading something else, which I was enjoying, but Alison Ripley Cubitt's story of her mother's life and how it ultimately affected her whole family grabbed me and held me until I'd finished. It is a moving book on many levels: an unfulfilled love story, a fascinating account of a war-time service family moving about the world, and a sad tale of stress and anxiety resulting in tragedy. I loved all the letters the bright, sparkly Molly (the author's mother) wrote to the family friend, Steven, over decades. They are so full of life and vibrancy. I also liked the way Alison uses the letters as a way to reveal her mother's character and development in the years before she (Alison) was born. She then gradually weaves her own memories of their family life in New Zealand into the story in a way that is quite seamless. The focus shifts from Molly's point of view in her letters to Alison's view of her mother and father as she tries to make sense of what ultimately went wrong for them all. For me, the book added to the number of accounts I've heard and read about problematic post-war relationships and makes me realise how hard it must have been for our parents to adjust to life when the war ended. I'm very glad that, in the end, Alison came to terms with what happened and has found fulfilment and happiness in her own adult life. This was a very well written and composed biographical memoir and is one I will remember for a long time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Using letters and journal entries, this book traces the life of the author’s mother, Molly, from her childhood in Hong Kong and Malaya, through marriage and motherhood, detailing her career in nursing, living in New Zealand and her struggles in adult life. I enjoyed the letters -they give an honest and authentic glimpse into Molly’s life and the upheaval she faces in the war years. As the book progresses, the narrative is unflinching. The author hides nothing, and even though Molly has demons to Using letters and journal entries, this book traces the life of the author’s mother, Molly, from her childhood in Hong Kong and Malaya, through marriage and motherhood, detailing her career in nursing, living in New Zealand and her struggles in adult life. I enjoyed the letters -they give an honest and authentic glimpse into Molly’s life and the upheaval she faces in the war years. As the book progresses, the narrative is unflinching. The author hides nothing, and even though Molly has demons to struggle with, and even though these must have affected the author in her childhood and beyond, the love and affection she felt for her children shines through and brings a real warmth to the book. I found the historical detail fascinating and thought that Molly was so interesting. She must have been a fascinating lady, with so many experiences to share. That said, there was some repetition, and some details that, while I can see how they would be interest for the family, did become a little monotonous. The book is well-written, and the author is obviously a competent writer. I found myself wishing that she’d taken the letters and journals and made them into a novel. I feel this would be much more interesting for most readers and there’s an absolute wealth of material here. An enjoyable read, but something I felt had the potential to be a great deal more. 3.5 out of 5 stars

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jill's Book Cafe

    More 3.5 than 3 stars Castles in the Air is a very personal memoir that opens with the author's mother's childhood and teenage years told largely through her diaries and letters. We then follow her into early adult hood and marriage and pick up in more detail her later years as both she and her husband struggle with depression. It is a fascinating story as we follow Molly as she leaves England, with her parents, to take up residence in various colonial outposts due to their work as code breakers c More 3.5 than 3 stars Castles in the Air is a very personal memoir that opens with the author's mother's childhood and teenage years told largely through her diaries and letters. We then follow her into early adult hood and marriage and pick up in more detail her later years as both she and her husband struggle with depression. It is a fascinating story as we follow Molly as she leaves England, with her parents, to take up residence in various colonial outposts due to their work as code breakers connected to Bletchley Park. From Hong Kong, to Singapore, Malaysia and Kenya, it traces a story of unrest, war and danger from an ex pat perspective. This is not a tale of aristocratic 'Happy Valley' style hedonism and decadence, but a portrayal of middle class, civil servants, whose life in the UK would have been far more humdrum. As Molly grows we start to hear more about the mysterious, avuncular figure who will feature throughout her life. As we only see Molly's letters it's hard to know exactly what the relationship was, especially as she is by now a teenager and her letters display a bravado and selfishness that I suspect we might all have been guilty of at a similar age. What does transpire is that whatever the relationship, it wasn't one sided and it continued to exert a hold over Molly for the rest of her life. As Molly returns to the UK to train as a nurse, her letters and diary entries become more infrequent and less introspective so we rely more on the author to fill in the story of Molly's marriage and life in Malaya with her husband during the Emergency. As she becomes a mother we get to know about the children and the wider family dynamics. As the author is increasingly able to speak for herself and tell the families story, we rely less on Molly's memoirs and pick up more of the authors own, memories, especially when the family leave Malaya for New Zealand and yet another phase of their life. For the most part I really enjoyed reading this, at times Molly's letters could get repetitive and in her later years there was a similar sense of repetition. However I suspect this was not an easy thing to write, not only because of the emotions it must have inevitably invoked, but also in how to deal with the material at hand. I think it needs to be stated at this point with regard to editing and content this book clearly states that it is a memoir. While a memoir is often seen as being autobiographical there is a subtle difference. A memoir tells only about a certain period of time, or incidents in a person’s life, as they saw it. It is not chronological, or necessarily filled with historical fact and background, it purely reflects memories and feelings. In that regard that is what this book does. The author has chosen for the most part to largely let the letters and diary entries speak for themselves, without sanitising or editing the material. The reality is if Molly was pre-occupied, and repetitive and somewhat superficial, then that is what we are getting. There are authorial interjections to provide some historical context and background which Molly omits and I found helpful without being intrusive, but others may disagree. I was particularly interested in Molly's life in the Far East. I enjoy reading about colonial life and more so for countries I've been fortunate enough to visit. Having been to Kenya, Singapore, and Malaya, I could visualise the places and the cultural references. As my own father was in the Royal Navy and based in Singapore and my father in law was in the Army and deployed in Malaya during the Emergency. the politics and history of the region, with its changing colonial dynamics had an added pertinence for me. As we reach Molly’s later years and her struggles with work, her husband and depression it is clear that none if this was really understand by the family at the time. It must have been a shock to discover the extent to which a much loved mother had been dissembling to maintain the façade that everything was alright. The fact that in this case, the author is also her daughter makes the discovery and the writing about it more poignant. This memoir serves as a very real reminder to us all, that our parents are so much more than just parents. They have had their own lives and histories, however normal or different and it is often when they are gone, that we discover the individuals they really were. I was alerted to this book by the author after I’d reviewed a fictional story set during the Emergency, so thank you for the opportunity to experience some first-hand memories. I received a review copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This was a very difficult read for me and did take me way longer than normal to finish. The book felt disjointed from beginning to end. You start off with a little background and then read letters & diary entries written by the authors mother. By the end of the book you are reading about the authors mother as seen through the eyes of her daughter. I have to say I found the second half much more interesting than the first. I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an h This was a very difficult read for me and did take me way longer than normal to finish. The book felt disjointed from beginning to end. You start off with a little background and then read letters & diary entries written by the authors mother. By the end of the book you are reading about the authors mother as seen through the eyes of her daughter. I have to say I found the second half much more interesting than the first. I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cleopatra Pullen

    This book is billed as a memoir of love and loss with the synopsis based around an incident as viewed by the eight year old Alison on the eve of the family’s departure for New Zealand. So what is the book about? Well it is definitely a book of two halves, the first which covers Molly’s, Alison’s mother, surviving documents from the early part of the Second World War. The family were travelling for Molly’s father’s work in various outposts of Bletchley Park cracking codes in Asia. Through Molly’s This book is billed as a memoir of love and loss with the synopsis based around an incident as viewed by the eight year old Alison on the eve of the family’s departure for New Zealand. So what is the book about? Well it is definitely a book of two halves, the first which covers Molly’s, Alison’s mother, surviving documents from the early part of the Second World War. The family were travelling for Molly’s father’s work in various outposts of Bletchley Park cracking codes in Asia. Through Molly’s letters, mainly those to family friend Steve, and a ship’s log given to her to record an early voyage at this time, we get plenty of information about the people they met, the kind of life they led and some snippets of the context of the world at that time, but sadly not enough. Molly I suspect was a typical teenage girl of her time. Longing to be grown up, maybe especially in Steve’s eyes, but betraying her age with the everyday events of friends lost and found, shopping trips when the ship called at port and tales of parties attended and school exams. The loss of detail about the surrounding world, the real sense of danger the family sometimes found themselves in is not necessarily telling of Molly’s natural introspection, but a by-product of the censorship operating. To be honest the news of other families soon wore thin and this part could have done with more editing and some context for those not familiar with the war being fought in these far-flung parts of the world. In the second half of the book we hear far more from Alison who details the downward spiral of her parents just when she was going away to college. Here we had the opportunity to see how life had turned out for the optimistic Molly after she had trained as a midwife. From my point of view these chapters were far more interesting although perhaps Alison is still too worried about family members reading this poignant memoir as the episodes are littered with excuses for the behaviour of both parents to a degree that became intrusive to the narrative. That isn’t to say the sadness of the tale being told was completely lost, it wasn’t, and the everyday struggles of making a life far from their family albeit one that was built on an itinerant background were expertly revealed. An interesting read but I felt that this could have been far better presented, especially in the first half which revolved around various sea voyages and staying in unsuitable lodgings with far too little money. Molly’s tale is worth hearing and it was interesting to understand a little of the pressure on the code-crackers, no matter where they were posted, something I had been unaware of until I read this memoir. I’d like to thank the publishers Lambert Nagle Media who allowed me to read a proof copy of this book in return for this honest opinion. Castles in the Air was published on 25 November 2015.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathrin

    I received a free copy of the book through NetGalley. I'm a big fan of memoirs. Usually enjoy them a lot because I like to think about the process of writing a lot. What made the person leave behind thoughts and wishes? There's also some voyeurism involved as I just love to get an insight into other people's lives. I used to read a lot memoirs in the past and just recently picked them up again. The setting and the promise of a big family secret convinced me to choose this book. 'Castles in the Ai I received a free copy of the book through NetGalley. I'm a big fan of memoirs. Usually enjoy them a lot because I like to think about the process of writing a lot. What made the person leave behind thoughts and wishes? There's also some voyeurism involved as I just love to get an insight into other people's lives. I used to read a lot memoirs in the past and just recently picked them up again. The setting and the promise of a big family secret convinced me to choose this book. 'Castles in the Air' is the live of Molly Ripley told through letters, diary entries as well as the memories of her daughter, Alison. Molly lived quite an interesting life in the 1950s through 1960s. Having been an expat for a while myself I found her travels and try to fit into new places intriguing. However, as much as I liked the actual story I was, at least in the first half of the book, bored out of my mind. The happenings were told through letters to the family friend Steve. While I understand that letters are hardly ever written with a memoir in mind and the author could only use the given materials I didn't get what the author wanted to tell us by presenting endless ship travels. The book could've been a lot shorter without losing information. I guess it was quite obvious how important Steve was to Molly without repeating stuff over and over again. The last part of the book was actually the most important and interesting one. We follow Molly's was into addiction and experience how she's slowly losing touch with reality. Unfortunately, this part was really short and rushed. Probably because there weren't any letter or other materials to be found. I just wished the author would fill some of the gaps with her own memories. In the end, this was an interesting, although slow read. I got to know a lot of interesting details and facts but for me there wasn't an overall picture. What was the intention of Alison to write about her mother? Why did she pay attention to certain details while others were hardly mentioned? Sometimes I got the impression that the book was written mainly for the author and not that much for the reader. I still enjoyed it but it's probably not the easiest memoir to pick up.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Lewis

    I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This was a fascinating journey from World War II right through the 1950s, 60s and 70s told in two halves- the first through a series of letters written by the author's mother as the family travelled the world as part of overseas operations during and after the war, and the second via a mixture of memories and diary anecdotes. The diary entries give a compelling insight into life on board ship in a time when travel took we I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This was a fascinating journey from World War II right through the 1950s, 60s and 70s told in two halves- the first through a series of letters written by the author's mother as the family travelled the world as part of overseas operations during and after the war, and the second via a mixture of memories and diary anecdotes. The diary entries give a compelling insight into life on board ship in a time when travel took weeks or even months and builds up a picture of Molly's personality and her friendship with her father's friend Steve, which endured long into her adulthood. The second half gives more of a perspective on how circumstance can affect relationships as Molly struggles to adapt to a new life in New Zealand with her husband. The pressures of a job which involves long, continuous night-shifts and an increasing dependency on prescription drugs (which bizarrely were not controlled between GPs in those days and therefore were easily acquired in dangerous amounts) sees Molly's world become one of turmoil and increasing anxiety and eventually takes its toll on her relationship with her husband. What unfolds depicts, in unflinching detail, the vulnerability of the human soul. In sharing her family's journey, both literally and metaphorically, Alison Ripley Cubitt offers a frank and honest account of enduring love and heartache. This review can also be found here: https://pickledthoughtsandpinot.wordp...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Lloyd

    Castles in the air is a book of two halves. It tells us the life story of Alison’s mother Molly; the first half mainly using Molly’s own letters to a dear older friend, Steve and the second half a combination of Alison’s memories and her mother’s diaries. I chose this book because I wanted to read about Molly’s experiences before and during the war as a teenager living in Hong Kong, Singapore, Ceylon and Mombasa and also her life as an expat in Malaya during the Emergency. I especially enjoyed Mo Castles in the air is a book of two halves. It tells us the life story of Alison’s mother Molly; the first half mainly using Molly’s own letters to a dear older friend, Steve and the second half a combination of Alison’s memories and her mother’s diaries. I chose this book because I wanted to read about Molly’s experiences before and during the war as a teenager living in Hong Kong, Singapore, Ceylon and Mombasa and also her life as an expat in Malaya during the Emergency. I especially enjoyed Molly’s father’s log of their trip out to Hong Kong through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal as it reminded me of my 6-week voyage to Singapore when I was 15. Despite periods of boredom and hard times, keeping ahead of the Japanese invasion with very little money, the early period of Molly’s life is full of interest, but her married life is not so easy and despite or maybe because of sheer hard work both Molly and her husband endure considerable unhappiness. In this memoir, Alison is frank and honest, exposing the rifts and suffering in her family life while also showing clearly how much her mother loved her and did her best for all three children. There are so many “if onlys” in Molly’s life which could have made it so much better or so much worse. An interesting read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tony Hynes

    An account of her mother Molly's life, Castles In the Air gives the reader insight into life during a different era. I enjoyed hearing about air mail and "cable" as phone calls were called during the time. The most important story here is the relationship between Molly and Steve, a family friend, which is documented in Molly's diary and in letters back and forth between the two. The pain of that unfulfilled friendship, sets up everything that will come to pass in the books final act, a dramatic, An account of her mother Molly's life, Castles In the Air gives the reader insight into life during a different era. I enjoyed hearing about air mail and "cable" as phone calls were called during the time. The most important story here is the relationship between Molly and Steve, a family friend, which is documented in Molly's diary and in letters back and forth between the two. The pain of that unfulfilled friendship, sets up everything that will come to pass in the books final act, a dramatic, and tragic end. Ripley does a fabulous job infusing herself into the story without taking the spotlight, which the reader understands belongs to her mother. Even Ripley's father, who is instrumental as well, becomes a secondary character in her mother's journey through depression, pain, and new beginnings. On a personal note, this book helped me better understand how depression can develop on a day to day basis, and how that depression can lead to addiction. An important read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Stancomb

    The first part of the book is a combination of the author’s narrative and her mother’s diary – the diary of a fairly standard, nicely-brought-up, self-preoccupied teenager, and as such it is a good account of that kind of ex-pat, war-time middle class life in colonies. Not overly observant , there is little probing into the family dynamics as the mother’s life unfolds and the cracks appear, but then in the last part of the book, the story suddenly becomes electrifying as the lives of the parents The first part of the book is a combination of the author’s narrative and her mother’s diary – the diary of a fairly standard, nicely-brought-up, self-preoccupied teenager, and as such it is a good account of that kind of ex-pat, war-time middle class life in colonies. Not overly observant , there is little probing into the family dynamics as the mother’s life unfolds and the cracks appear, but then in the last part of the book, the story suddenly becomes electrifying as the lives of the parents spiral into depression, work problems, alcohol, prescription drugs, suicide and death. At this point, the book becomes filled with drama, and begins to resemble a last act in a Shakespearean tragedy, with bodies littering the stage. But here, at last, the reader is involved in the lives of the characters, and gets a glimpse of who they really were – and the book is redeemed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jossie Solheim

    I'm afraid to say that I couldn't finish this book. I forced myself to get to the halfway mark, but I just found Molly to be incredibly Pretentious and felt that her letters to Steve were dole and boring. The constant interruptions within Molly's letters, from Alison, were irritating and often pointless. I think there are far more interesting accounts of life during this period out there, than that of a silly and seemingly spoilt, little girl, who was clearly involved in a very suspect relations I'm afraid to say that I couldn't finish this book. I forced myself to get to the halfway mark, but I just found Molly to be incredibly Pretentious and felt that her letters to Steve were dole and boring. The constant interruptions within Molly's letters, from Alison, were irritating and often pointless. I think there are far more interesting accounts of life during this period out there, than that of a silly and seemingly spoilt, little girl, who was clearly involved in a very suspect relationship. I would not recommend this book and am sad to say that I could find nothing positive to say about it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Book Wormy

    Molly is a fascinating character living through a dangerous period of history, however the narrow focus of the book for me let it down. Full review to appear here soon http://thereadersroom.org/ Molly is a fascinating character living through a dangerous period of history, however the narrow focus of the book for me let it down. Full review to appear here soon http://thereadersroom.org/

  22. 4 out of 5

    gj indieBRAG

    We are proud to announce that CASTLES IN THE AIR by Alison Ripley Cubitt is a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. This tells a reader that this book is well worth their time and money!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wilhelmina Hoftyzer

    This was a well written book telling the story of the life of Molly Ripley, whose letters and experiences as a child during World War II living in Asia...Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Mombasa. As a teenager she writes letters to "Steve", an older man who was a friend of her father, and who was also a part of British secret intelligence service. It almost seemed as one reads the letters that she was in love with this man. She was an only child, and her life is detailed in many of these letters. This was a well written book telling the story of the life of Molly Ripley, whose letters and experiences as a child during World War II living in Asia...Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Mombasa. As a teenager she writes letters to "Steve", an older man who was a friend of her father, and who was also a part of British secret intelligence service. It almost seemed as one reads the letters that she was in love with this man. She was an only child, and her life is detailed in many of these letters. The second half of the book occurs after the war, when she becomes a nurse, marries a man she met on one of the many trips. She had 3 children, and eventually she and her husband move to New Zealand to become orchard farmers. From my reading it appears that she may have been bipolar, as she had periods of deep depression and then more frenzied activity. She was very social, while Ian, her husband appears to have been a quiet man. While both suffered from depression, Ian had debilitating migraines, which Molly often treated with "an injection"; and Molly herself became dependent on barbituates and benzodiazepines, and both of their lives spiraled out of control. They often had nasty "rows", and eventually Ian kills himself in his orchard. Molly's death follows soon after, when she "falls" off a train in the UK. Ultimately a life of so much promise turned to be so tragic. It was a fairly compelling memoir, although I did find some of Molly's letters to Steve somewhat tedious, but remembering that she wrote them while in her teens. It definitely is a story of love and loss, well written with great compassion by her loving daughter.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    This memoir contained large sections of letters written by a young girl whose family was caught up in the situation in the Far East prior to, and during, World War Two. The latter part of the book is written by the young girl’s daughter, many years later, which gives further insight into the long-term effects of these difficult past experiences.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Awesome Indies Book Awards

    Awesome Indies Book Awards is pleased to include CASTLES IN THE AIR by ALISON RIPLEY CUBITT in the library of Awesome Indies' Badge of Approval recipients at http://j.mp/AwesIndBk265 Awesome Indies Book Awards is pleased to include CASTLES IN THE AIR by ALISON RIPLEY CUBITT in the library of Awesome Indies' Badge of Approval recipients at http://j.mp/AwesIndBk265

  26. 4 out of 5

    vivian bryant

    To much repeating. You lose your thoughts. Repeat i just wanted to get to end of story. Cut out half of drug taking. StAte it and move on People's are interesting. Drug out to much. Skipped half of it. To much repeating. You lose your thoughts. Repeat i just wanted to get to end of story. Cut out half of drug taking. StAte it and move on People's are interesting. Drug out to much. Skipped half of it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    CLAIR Withers

    A Family Memoir Really enjoyed reading this memoir about Molly’s life from young to death. Found it informative & learnt about the family dynamics. Thanks

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ronesa Aveela

    I'm sure this book is a work of love by the author since it's the story about her mother, Molly (and her relationship with a friend named Steve), but I had a difficult time getting interested in it. The first half consists of travel logs from Molly's father as they journey to Hong Kong, and later by Molly herself as they flee with the advance of the Japanese (during WWII). The book would have been better if the travel logs had been condensed, rather than a day-by-day account of events, none of w I'm sure this book is a work of love by the author since it's the story about her mother, Molly (and her relationship with a friend named Steve), but I had a difficult time getting interested in it. The first half consists of travel logs from Molly's father as they journey to Hong Kong, and later by Molly herself as they flee with the advance of the Japanese (during WWII). The book would have been better if the travel logs had been condensed, rather than a day-by-day account of events, none of which were earth-shattering and quite often described dancing or how bored they were. If the author writes about being bored, the reader will be, too. And then, there are Molly's letters to Steve. Normally, I like to read a book in a day or two. However, I found it difficult to do that with this one, as the pace was slow as Molly prattled on about shopping, friends, and other such things in her letters to Steve. The author inserted thoughts from time to time, identifying people, titles, and such, or adding her thoughts about what was going on. It was all one-sided. None of Steve's letters to Molly were included. Perhaps they don't exist, but they would have added depth to the story, and perhaps given us a glimpse into what their relationship was supposed to be. The final half of the book took on a new style of writing, almost as if it were a different story, since there were no more letters from Molly to Steve to relate to the reader. From here to the end, the story became more enjoyable. Molly is now married, and she and her husband have moved to Malaysia to manage a rubber plantation. It documents the family as they move from Malaysia, to the UK, to New Zealand. Scattered within, are glimpses from time to time about Steve, and how Molly's husband seemed to resent Molly's friendship with him (especially since Molly hid the fact that she still wrote to Steve). From there, it talked a lot of Molly's drug addiction and how it affected her life and marriage. Overall, the book could have used a good edit for consistency. The first half would have made better "research" and not word-for-word recounting of logs and letters. With that research, the author could have painted a better account of Molly's and Steve's relationship, instead of just a teenage girl writing letters to a friend much older than she was. I never "felt" the relationship. It wasn't all bad. There were some interesting documentary of life in the Pacific on the advent of WWII, bit about the advance of the Japanese that don't normally make it into US History lessons. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Molly McHugh

    Absolutely loved this book - and the talent of the author(s) is on the scale of JK Rowling imho. A beautifully told narrative story about a family and it's tragic at times, tumultuous at times and victorious at times history living abroad from England throughout SouthEast Asia (the parents were expats living and working in Malaysia) - through the eyes of a grown daughter trying to understand her mother, whous life ended in a bit of sorrow and tragedy (the full extent of which not known until aft Absolutely loved this book - and the talent of the author(s) is on the scale of JK Rowling imho. A beautifully told narrative story about a family and it's tragic at times, tumultuous at times and victorious at times history living abroad from England throughout SouthEast Asia (the parents were expats living and working in Malaysia) - through the eyes of a grown daughter trying to understand her mother, whous life ended in a bit of sorrow and tragedy (the full extent of which not known until after she died). Facts from history are weaved into the story throughout, and there was much English WWII history I did not know about but was interesting to learn. I can't say more, or I will give away too much, but I can say this is an excellent read and most will love it as I did I think. Fiction often bores me, this book kept me captivated until the very end, with the open heart and open mind of the narrator herself keeping me entertained as well and as if I was a trusted friend sharing a very personal journey into her family’s past.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This book is well worth the read for someone interested in life in the Pacific and Africa during WWII or see what happens to someone who is forced to constantly work the night shift when they have a family and a house to run. i had some difficulty as the book is told through her mother's letters to her friend Steve and later through her journal entries and they tend to ramble and be either complaining or forcefully cheery but the story comes through and is well told over all. This book is well worth the read for someone interested in life in the Pacific and Africa during WWII or see what happens to someone who is forced to constantly work the night shift when they have a family and a house to run. i had some difficulty as the book is told through her mother's letters to her friend Steve and later through her journal entries and they tend to ramble and be either complaining or forcefully cheery but the story comes through and is well told over all.

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