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Bits of String Too Short to Use by Jennifer Beck


Bits of String too Short to Use is a fascinating memoir about collecting and then downsizing, writing, and the many highs and lows of life.


Jennifer Beck is a well-respected New Zealand writer, and for her memoir, she has taken the approach of looking at her life as a series of ‘bits’ – engaging episodes from her life that she shares that provide a beautiful tapestry by the end of reading her life story.


Jennifer’s early life was being brought up in a rural community, in a large, eccentric family without much money, but it instilled in her a lifelong determination to follow her dreams. She shares about becoming a teacher, and of hitchhiking overseas and having many adventures in places like Greece, London and Sri Lanka, before having new experiences at home.


There is romance, weddings and children. She even helps run a successful transport business from her phone in the kitchen. Later there is university study and a new career as a writer for children and adults. All the while, there is a lifetime interest in collecting antiques and restoring furniture. And along the way, there are wonderful friendships and encounters with people such as Margaret Mahy, Dorothy Butler and Fiona Kidman.


There are also heartbreaking losses, including the death of her much-loved daughter, and the challenges of getting older.


Beautifully written, Bits of String too Short to Use is such a wonderful read. Jennifer Beck has lived an extraordinary life, and her recollections are warm and insightful, and I’m sure they will be enjoyed by readers of all ages and backgrounds. She is such an accomplished, successful woman, but humble and modest about her many achievements. Jennifer is an inspiration to other women, especially any thinking of becoming writers.


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Mary Egan Publishing

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