3 Oct 2015



(An abridged) BACK COVER BLURB: My memoirs of my first twenty years provide an insight into Northeast, Post-War life in hilarious and painful detail. The fourth lad of eleven children raised by a chauvinistic father and self-obsessed, vindictive mother, I was initially raised in Pont Street, considered at the time to be one of the toughest but friendliest streets in Ashington. Badly burnt, almost drowned, battered and bruised, I had to learn quickly how to survive my environment and my mother. After seven eventful years, we move to the Fifth Row, another wild but friendly street where my growing pains continue on into my time as a Pit Lad and finally, a faltering soldier.

FIRST SENTENCE {Part 1 - Pont Street: 1 - A Painful Beginning}: Completely unaware that I was doing my utmost to drown out his voice, Winston Churchill growled triumphantly from within the wooden boxed radio standing on the sideboard in the kitchen of our gloomy miners' terraced house.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 62}: 'Trust ye to say something stupid,' she growled, 'how the bloody hell could he hit himself on the back of his heed with an axe ye simple bugger, eh?

SOURCE: A GoodReads win.

MY THOUGHTS: One of eleven, from his Ashington childhood (by far my favourite portion of the book) in one of the 'toughest but friendliest streets in one of the toughest towns of the North East' The Fourth Lad chronicles a childhood (by far my favourite part of the book) that, yes, harsh in so many ways is nevertheless filled with a certain innocent carefreeness that few (if indeed any) of today's children will ever experience through to his time as a soldier via time 'doon the pit' in an extraordinary book written by an 'ordinary' man.

As far as memoirs go one of my favourites of 2015. Whilst not particularly well written and in my opinion a book that could have benefited from a good editing nevertheless a natural story teller Sydney Carr's The Fourth Lad is a real page turner. 

A nostalgic read that will no doubt take some readers back in time. Both funny and sad, whilst the happenings make for compelling enough reading, as is very often the case with this genre it is the characters themselves who truly make the book. Characters such as the larger than life Ma Carr (a woman we'd describe as 'as rough as a badger's a**e' who despite her seemingly cruelty was one of my favourites) who give a great cultural insight into many of the women of this time and place.

Whilst I believe this will be a huge hit amongst 'the locals' I should think it holds just as much appeal to those with an interest in social history or indeed those who simply enjoy a good yarn. Be warned though there are some colloquialisms used that may well baffle though this is aided somewhat by a dictionary at the back of the book.

TBR READ-A-THON.The first book of three read for this Read-A-Thon. Reviews of Cranky, Beautiful Faith: For Irregular (And Regular) People by Nadia Bolz-Weber and Demons Not Included by Cheyenne McCray are to follow.


Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I hadn't heard of this one before- but glad to hear you enjoyed it. It says a lot about the story telling that you enjoyed it so much, even if a bit more editing might need to be done. Thanks for sharing. :)

Gina R said...

Sounds like you enjoyed it. It's fun to read about other places and people but when they are a but more familiar, it gives you another fun connection. Thanks for the share!

Natasha Hill said...

I always enjoy your reviews and posts, so many books to discover and add to my to-read list! And thank you for the lovely comments, always, they always make me smile! - Tasha

Brian Joseph said...

This sounds really good.

I like your point about this being of interest for those who are trying to understand social history. Books like this tend to illuminate so much about society in general.

Kelly said...

If I'm going to read a memoir, I normally prefer to know the person or at least more about their situation. I'm not sure if I'd like this or not, but you certainly make a good case for it. If it crossed my path, I'd be willing to give it a shot.

Lily B said...

I am not a big memoir person, but glad you somewhat enjoyed it. Always good to read a book with a range of emotion in it. The writing doesn't seem too bad.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Sorry you thought it could have used more editing, but regardless, it seems like you enjoyed the book overall. Thanks for sharing!!

Melliane said...

It's the first time I hear about it but I'm glad to see you had a good time with it.

Brandi Kosiner said...

The nostalgia sounds like it is well done in this one

Sherry Ellis said...

Sounds like a book those who enjoy history would like.

Syd Carr said...

Many thanks for your positive comments and I agree my memoirs would be all the better for a comprehensive edit. The book was my first attempt at writing anything more than a training pamphlet and was very much completed on my own, editing is more difficult than writing if you are the author! I do intend to revisit the book and 'Re- edit, again many thanks for your comments they are very much appreciated, Sydney Carr, Lieutenant Colonel.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

Whilst this isn't a book for me (I simply don't read memoirs), I work with someone who actually comes from Ashington and has never quite put her roots behind her, despite the fact that she has been down here with us Southerners in Somerset for almost 30 years now!

This will definitely be one for me to recommend on to her, so thanks for sharing :)