Book Jacket

 

rank 829
word count 30954
date submitted 29.05.2011
date updated 24.04.2012
genres: Non-fiction, History, Biography, Ha...
classification: universal
incomplete

Displaced

Andy Evans and Vesna Kovac

Displaced tells the story of a twenty year search to uncover long lost family history from the former Yugoslavia.

 

Bosnia has become an old country of scars, tightly guarding her secrets tightly within the realms of brutal acceptance.
A country's bloody past lost, and purposely forgotten, in the new age of post communist eastern Europe.
Displaced delves deep into the chapters of a past never before told. A family torn apart, neither side knowing of the others continued existence.
From extensive research, use of private investigators and hand writing specialists to my own, self induced danger of asking questions inside a country that never truly forgets her violent past.
Displaced finally opens the pages of a family divided for over sixty years.

 
rate the book

to rate this book please Register or Login

 

tags

, bosnia, displaced, family, genealogy, history, murder, travel, war, yugoslavia

on 33 watchlists

52 comments

 

To leave comments on this or any book please Register or Login

subscribe to comments for this book
Searcher wrote 663 days ago

Hi Andy, Your writing is that of a seasoned writer...so descriptive and full of warmth. You bring the reader right along with you in your journey. I'm only on chapter 4 but took a trip down memory lane with you in Chapt 1 even though we live in two different countries... your memories of your grandfather growing & hanging his tobacco out to dry in his wooden huts made me think of my grandfather in Kentucky, growing & hanging his tobacco to dry in his barn.

I was so glad in Chapt 2 he identified himself to you in his military picture.

The horrors of war are so hard to comprehend and understand and yet it is uplifting and amazing to hear your grandfather was still able to show such tremendous love. The two of you shared a special bond.

I am struck with the realization that you were meant from a young age to write this story. It's your grandfather's story but so beautifully told that I think many others will enjoy reading this heart felt story, especially those who also have lost their ancestral homeland. Although, I've never done any research in Yugoslavia, I know first hand how difficult and many times impossible it is to find records in those war torn countries.

I plan to keep reading and am putting your book in my watchlist. ******6stars Thanks for sharing this amazing story!

Jane

Annabel Watkinson wrote 80 days ago

Hi Andy, here for a return read, and sorry it took me a while.

I've read the first two chapters of Displaced. You have a lovely flow to your writing, and although I'm not usually drawn to non-fiction / memoirs, I found this quite captivating. The attention to detail in the description really brings it to life - I could so easily see, and smell, those ripe, home-grown tomatoes, the immaculately clipped hedge, and so on. There were some brutal images in chapter 2, and I'm glad you didn't dwell on them, but a tale like this can't be told without that. And there's a strong hook at the end of chapter 2 - why the scratched-out faces?

Well-written, worthwhile story. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. High stars from me.

Best of luck with this,
Annabel Watkinson.
The Year of Us.

M.J. Fahy wrote 81 days ago

I came back and read Chapter 2.

What a mysterious man your grandfather was. I was brought up quite short when I read of his son's death - was not expecting that, at all. Horrible. We take for granted, don't we, the amount of help given nowadays (still not enough) for post-traumatic stress disorder. I had a great-uncle, who was in the navy, and saw his friend's head blown off (by all accounts the chap still ran, headless, for a distance), and he never, ever spoke of those days - even to his own sons. Terrible really, to have all that emotion bottled and stoppered for a lifetime.
The well episode with the ghostly disembodied voice was hilarious.
And I remember the hot summers' of '76 and '77 with fondness (there was a plague of ladybirds in '76, too, and flipping heck, did those buggers bite!).
I love your writing, Andy; it's as though I can see through your eyes - a true gift :o)

Did your granddad give you some of his whiskey? Mine did, starting from about the age of 5 upwards. He'd slip me a little tot when no one was looking.

Beautiful. I'll keep reading.

Jane x

M.J. Fahy wrote 84 days ago

Andy,

I only had time for the first chapter tonight. Displaced is on my WL so I'll read further as and when. I really like your writing style, very easy and straightforward. I found myself thinking of my own Grandfather as I read (he kept a small-holding and sold fruit and veg, with two huge glasshouses. The tomato aroma took me right back), we're probably of an age (50 for me). The love you still feel for your grandfather shines through this chapter - the quiet strength of the man is palpable.
I cringed at the baby blackbird incident. Poor man; the guilt.
There's such a sense of place and time, too, with the scrubbing of the doorsteps, and the scrambling over the slagheaps - think of the Health and Safety brigade today! They'd have kittens.
The only word that brought me up short was the use of 'realm'. I would have said: I would be given free 'rein' to chop down the giant plants.

Well done, Andy, on a poignant piece of writing. Max stars.

Jane x

Josephine O Brien wrote 187 days ago

Hi Andy,
I chose Displaced because family histories are so fascinating.

A very engaging book. Told in an easy, friendly casual manner which doesn't avoid the nasty, evil side of life but doesn't allow it to overshadow family bonds. There was some repetition of words that I'd have picked up in a different type of novel but seemed to fit into your style.

Small nit-pick in the long pitch- 'TIGHTLY guarding her secret TIGHTLY' I think you could lose one of those.

Maybe ' ..a country that HAS NEVER TRULY FORGOTTEN....'?

What a really lovely window on the past you open here in your first chapter. Not hiding the poverty and hard work but making us realize that love, time well spent and simple pleasures made that world a happy secure place. I fear this is going to contrast with the horrors you are about to find out.

Okay, the darkness in people is mentioned here in chapter two but not dwelt on. I love the picture youbuild up of your grandfather. You do it in a very nice layered manner, not just an info dump. I feel as if I'm having a conversation with you. Oh, it's sad that he defaced the photos. What despair or horrible memories, faced alone, made him do it.

Chap 3 What a love story that was. To 'live in sin' back then took two very strong minded people, not to mention, deeply in love!

The only thing I would like here is a clearer idea of how old you were at the time of various events in your grandparents life.. You seemed to have an extraordinary relationship with your grandparents.

Chap 4: Here as well you build up a picture of life at that time, without it reading like a history lesson. In chapter 5 I can feel myself being drawn into your quest.You have a very gentle way of drawing the reader along with you.

What a treasure trove in the desk. It's amazing he kept it hidden all those years. Poor man. What a burden to be carrying and trying to forget.

Ha! The casual mention of bootleg whiskey, opens another facet of the man!

Chapter 7 still has me wondering how old you are with your mother refusing to help you, and then, arranging it and travelling with you. But it is also leading me to suspect that she wanted answers herself.

Chapters 7 and 8. You describe the country so well and affectionately, I really want to see it. Will your book have the photos you spoke about, in it? Some photos of the countryside would be lovely too.

Thank you for the read, please let me know if you post more chapters. This looks as if it will be a valuable record on things hidden to the rest of the world. Well done. High stars and watch listed.
Josephine.
Chapter 9ends on a cliffhanger. It must have been so exciting, those days when you were getting all those calls and information.






L.M.Bell wrote 215 days ago

Hey Andy,

I have read the first two chapters. What can I say – this is really well written. I usually don’t read this kind of books, because I find the subject matter just too upsetting. But the message you communicate in what I have read so far is one of hope, the affection you have for your grandfather and his resilience in life that contrasts so sharply with the horrors of war.
I don’t have much to offer in terms of writing feedback, as your writing is really strong. Below I have jotted down some of my thoughts more from a reader’s perspective.

Introduction
I am usually not a fan of intros, I always see them as a delay to get stuck into the story, but I think here it works. Your intro is heartfelt, and I feel it opens the dialogue with the reader on what is going to be a very personal story.

Chapter 1
As this is not my usual kind of read, I don’t know what the balance between historical facts and personal recollections should be. I can tell you I have enjoyed more the latters, but this is just my personal approach to reading. Moreover I understand the need for historical context. The only thing I would say is that the beginning of chapter one feels like a second introduction – not so much the historical facts (which naturally sit here), but rather your explanation about your search (ch.1, 3rd paragraph). I think this echoes to an extent the theme of the introduction. Perhaps some of this could be moved to the intro?
Also in this chapter we have a bit of back and forth between the two (historical fact/methods of research vs. personal recollection) and it felt to me that at time your explanation of the methods interrupted the story (e.g. ch.1/paragraph 26). And I really want you to get stuck into the story, because when you do, your writing is absolutely compelling. You portray your childhood beautifully through sketchy memories/impressions of events, so that the overall effect is almost dreamlike. I really liked the memory of the sparrows. It’s beautiful. And the description of Feeatherstone during funerals is really vivid.

Chapter 2
Here you become more focused on the introduction of your grandfather’s character – the hardship he had to go through, his strength, the mystery surrounding him. I like this sketchy characterisation of your grandfather, you do a good job of picturing him through the vignettes of your memories.
This is a chapter of contrasts. There’s a lot of light – I particularly like the description of the allotment as a magical playground – and this clashes so sternly with the shock of the war atrocities. I have to say some descriptions were just a little too brutal for me, yet I think you shouldn’t change a word. This is what happened and the story needs to be told. I mean, what is wrong with the human race?

I wish you best of luck with this project. Plenty of star for the exceptional writing.

Laura

Iden wrote 228 days ago

This true story about the search of one's identity through discovering a grandfather's past also presents a view into a world we know little of. It is well-written with a lot of sensitivity that creates empathy with the narrator in the first person. Well done, highest stars, best wishes, Iden

nilgun wrote 252 days ago

Hi Andy,

Sebnem recommended your book to me. I read a few chapters of your wonderful true story regarding your search for your grandfather's past. It is indeed a very touching story, written with a lot of feeling and sincerity. The descriptions of the grandfather from the grandson's POV are exquisite and their fond memories make a good read. I congradulate you for your perseverance in finding out about your roots and the real story behind your grandfather's exile to the UK.

High stars, backed, best wishes,

Nilgun

nese wrote 298 days ago

Hi Andy,
A very good friend of mine recommended me your story. I read through your well-written first few chapters. It must have been such a challenge to delve into your grandfather's hidden past. I congradulate you for giving us this interesting true story.
Well done, high stars,
Nese

MadReader wrote 325 days ago

Im not so much into history but family history everyone finds fascinating and this was fascinating. My family is so boring compared to this and to thisnk that a life can be lost so easily and rebuilt again was just wonderful. High stars. Loved it.

MR

DJ-Gargoyle Chronicles wrote 328 days ago

Displaced – Review – Chapter 1

I must say that having spent the past few years retracing my family through western Europe successfully, the idea of this intrigues me. I can trace my mum’s side back to 1610 (the year of the first written parish records)… 1946 seems utterly fantastic in comparison.

Back to this though, the introduction was essential I think, although a little dry in tone, but from your story proper your prose is lighter and I like the dropping in of the history of the mining town and the historic remnants. I love all the little details – the hedge for instance – and the tone, but I am a dramatist and I think I would have left the little tell about the brother until later. It’s a lovely section and fits nicely here, but adding a bit of drama to the memoir would elevate it into something just that little more special. It’s lat e here, I shall return. Well done so far, something different to the YA and Fantasy stuff you find saturated up here. Feel free to ignore any or all of what I say, just my opinion. Some notes below, so far.

:DJ

Chapter 1:
“…even more impressive(,) we can…” – characters in ( ) are missing
“…where we originated(,) (h)as never been…” – I also would remove FROM in this sentence
“…are now (there) for all…”
Careful of missing comma before BUT
“…however,,” – remove the second comma
Sleepwalking back – nice line
“…birth grew in the…” – probably should be ‘grew out of’
Feathered mice – cute
The funeral recollection was quaint

Al Carty wrote 407 days ago

Hello again, Andy. I finished the nine chapters and look forward to the conclusion. It is a story that makes the reader follow along to see what happens next. That's a very good sign. The search for your grandfather's story is compelling and well told. There are a number of corrections that need to be made and many of your readers have offered suggestions as to their remedies. I am giving you four stars but certainly can't back an unfinished piece. It is a mystery to me why you would back my book when you obviously have not read it. You made no comments on it, and I wonder if you expect tit for tat, you back mine and I back yours? It doesn't work that way, so let me know why I got no comments from you. When I hear from you, you will hear more from me.

Cathy Hardy wrote 463 days ago

This is lovely, descriptive, captivating writing. A touching tale. High stars!!!

evermoore wrote 465 days ago

Andrew....What makes you such a powerful writer, is the love you use to weave your words together. I may never have met your granddad, Max, but I can see him...I can imagine the smile that was meant to warm a thousand hearts, for reading those words, warmed mine. What's more, Andrew, I can 'feel' the love between you. It's tangible to me. When you say he'd mentioned once about writing a book and how you wished you hadn't let it go by at the time, in my own heart, Andrew, I know he's beaming with pride over the fact that you've honored him this way. He must be so amazed at the time and effort, the research and work you've put into this cherished gift. I'm proud of you myself, for goodness sake! Six stars and a want for more...I'm so glad for the privilege of reading your work---
Linda

Sebnem wrote 472 days ago

Displaced-Andy Evans and Vesna Kovac

Hi Andy,
I have just read your first chapter and I am very impressed by your sincere and moving style of narration. Your approach of telling a true lifestory through fond childhood memories works very well. It engages the reader's attention while depicting the atmosphere of Featherstone of the past at the same time as arousing interest in the story of the Grandfather the narrator likes so much. Your language is smooth and flowing. I am curious about your Grandfather's story which I believe will reveal the history of Tito's Yugoslavia as we used to know. I am quite familiar with the unfortunate events that shook up the entire country in the '90's causing much anguish. I shall read on and back you as soon as I can. I have also star-rated your work. Good luck, best wishes, Sebnem-The Child of Heaven

Blancherose wrote 562 days ago

Hello Andy, your writing is setting you apart form many writing on this site. I am only on chapter one but can feel and hear the difference! I love learning from historical writing so I will continue on. you are on my WL, hope you will check out my writing. ROz

maretha wrote 659 days ago

Andy Evans and Vesna Kovac Displaced
On reading further in your book, I had to tell you that I love the story. Coming from Europe myself, then living in one African country and then moving to another through force of circumstances, one sees there's a common thread for people throughout the globe. So many similarities, which you have described beautifully. So I lifted my star rating to six. Thank you for a well-written story.
Maretha/African Adventures of Flame, Family, Furry and Feathered Friends

Searcher wrote 663 days ago

Hi Andy, Your writing is that of a seasoned writer...so descriptive and full of warmth. You bring the reader right along with you in your journey. I'm only on chapter 4 but took a trip down memory lane with you in Chapt 1 even though we live in two different countries... your memories of your grandfather growing & hanging his tobacco out to dry in his wooden huts made me think of my grandfather in Kentucky, growing & hanging his tobacco to dry in his barn.

I was so glad in Chapt 2 he identified himself to you in his military picture.

The horrors of war are so hard to comprehend and understand and yet it is uplifting and amazing to hear your grandfather was still able to show such tremendous love. The two of you shared a special bond.

I am struck with the realization that you were meant from a young age to write this story. It's your grandfather's story but so beautifully told that I think many others will enjoy reading this heart felt story, especially those who also have lost their ancestral homeland. Although, I've never done any research in Yugoslavia, I know first hand how difficult and many times impossible it is to find records in those war torn countries.

I plan to keep reading and am putting your book in my watchlist. ******6stars Thanks for sharing this amazing story!

Jane

Ekattri wrote 671 days ago

Original, lovely. Just simply enjoyable. :)

maretha wrote 677 days ago

Dear Andy, "Displaced" is on my watchlist and certainly has a synopsis I'm most interested to read more about. Your introduction is thought provoking, willing the reader to continue.
I am looking forward to contimue reading your endearing, sometimes sad accounts of your grandfather. Many of us never had the privilege to know our grandfathers, because they perished during the Second World War.
Thank you for putting this book on Authonomy
High stars
Maretha/African Adventures of Flame, Family, Furry and Feathered Friends

Karamak wrote 708 days ago

Oh this is a super tale, really evocative and the flavour of Yorkshire, that was nice. A great read (sorry it has taken so long been in hospital) thoroughly enjoyed this, Karen. (not bothered about typos etc at this stage to me it's all about the story)

Laura Dennis wrote 709 days ago

Please ... make sure to remove typos from the book description! Makes it difficult to read! (of the others continued -- others'), and using the word "tightly" two times in the 1st sentence is distracting ... Thanks! I'm looking forward to reading the book now, as I'm an American living in Belgrade!

patio wrote 714 days ago

Displaced is a fascinating story

Jilli wrote 729 days ago

I have read some of this before but just had another look, it's well written and I love your memories of Yorkshire. I will read on. Thanks for backing mine.

Barbara Gaskell Denvil wrote 732 days ago

I love the story and I love the characters. This sort of historical detail is always absolutely fascinating to me and you make it wondrously vivid and believable.
My only slight complaint is that it reads more as journalism - and although it is not (I assume) fictional - I think the writing style could benefit from a little more punch - rather than the strictly explanatory.
However, this is a genuinely interesting and pleasurable read. Good luck.

FRAN MACILVEY wrote 778 days ago

Dear Andy and Vesna

I have read the first three and part of the fourth chapter of "Displaced" this evening. What I find is an intriguing account of your grandfather's life and times, told from a perspective that is all but forgotten: that of the ordinary, family man, cast off from his roots and making a new life in England after 1945.

I enjoyed what I have read: the historical context is arresting, the social backdrop adds colour and interest, so that your story steers well clear of the usual blandishments of biography. I have learned a lot from what you have written.

Your prose is clean and straightforward, though there were occasions when sentences might be shortened for clarity. Like us all, you may also want to comb your MS to remove repetition, and the occasional typo. When I am writing, I find that I am most at risk of repeating myself when I feel no-one is listening to me. When you accept that yes, people are listening, and yes, you are being heard, almost by magic you will be able to find and remove passages that feel long-winded or heavy, without any loss of meaning. It is very liberating!

There is a tension, also, a balance to be struck, between the historical context that you need in order to illuminate the private story of your family, your grandparents, and the wider historical context that you bring to your book. Sometimes, though it may be painful, we have to make a choice to trim back some great writing, because it is not essential to the story. Again, if I may speak from my own experience, "Trapped" is actually the outcome of three books, and the first two were fine. They were just the wrong stories. If in doubt, trim down, and if in places you end up with the barebones, at least then you can more clearly see where you are heading.

For example, it is clear that you formed a deep bond of love with your grandfather. If you would make this the starting point of your narrative - something like paragraph 6 of chapter 1 feels like a good place to start - this would send a clear message to your readers that love was the impulse behind your quest, rather than, say, confusion or curiosity. Knowing that your readers then understand, you can relax more into the story telling, where I felt your writing was at its best.

I most enjoyed the pictures you painted of an intensely private man, with his pride, his strength and his losses. You make him at once powerful, and vulnerable in ways that are very moving.

You have had a long journey to get here, and your trials and endeavours are of great interest to us all. I hope you will keep writing, keep polishing, so that your narrative shines.

All the best

Fran Macilvey, "Trapped" xxx :)

grantdavid wrote 780 days ago

Andy and Vesna.
I remember commenting on "Displaced" some months ago and expressing the hope that the errors I pointed out would be eliminated, so that I could place it on my Shelf. I'm happy to say that, while there may be still imperfections, which others are helping you to detect, nothing has spoiled my reading of four chapters tonight.
Instead, I found it a fascinating and colourful account of a closely observed facet of English and also Balkan history, seen from the viewpoint of a poetic and sensitive soul.
The story of Max and Andy is so unbearably beautiful, that I had to stop and go to bed, promising myself to put it on my Shelf at the next opportunity.
Very best wishes to you both,
David Grant,
"Pompey Chimes"

Wanttobeawriter wrote 785 days ago

DISPLACED
This is an interesting book. I love the description of how Featherstone used to look – I’d forgotten how women used to scrub their doorsteps; who does that anymore? Or children noticed such things as what sparrows ate; too busy pushing buttons on their remote control. I think you have just the right writing style for this: a little melancholy, but obviously intent on sticking to the facts and reporting on this window in history. Highly rated and added to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

Juliet Ann wrote 800 days ago

This a lovely book and a testament to your family. I am sure you have gained much from writing it and the sharing of information with your Bosnian cousins. I found the read a little slow for my tastes and would have preferred to read Maskim's story reconstructed (rather than the story of how it was put together), but this is a book for your family to treasure. Highly starred. Juliet

Salwa Samra wrote 805 days ago

Wow - the historical account of this book is spot on! You have detailed thoroughly your experience and that of you Grandfathers. I absolutely love hearing about other nations, nationalities, and especially those nations whom have suffered the effects of war and injustice as Lebanon did.

I recall vividly the accounts on the news of Yugoslavia, I remember the horrors of the news reports and your book again took me there. You allowed the reader to become part of the book as you shared your joys, pains, hardships and sorrows. I was extremely touched by the emphasis you placed on legacy - the legacy of your grandfather - how you intended to carry that on. I loved that! Legacy to me is also of utmost importance.

In certain areas you pulled the reader in to almost feel as if they were searching for the truth with you. What a joy and an honour your grandfather would have felt if he had known, or maybe he did know in spirit, of the journey you took to step onto the land, the place, the life of his life as it were before the war.

There were a few spelling errors here and there, but I'm sure as you go over this, you'll correct them.

Well done, I do hope that this book reaches the bookstore shelves. Salwa.

Mrs. Job wrote 823 days ago

This is a magnificent real-life who-dun-it with tragic historical significance, beautiful love, ultimate extended family caring and a travelogue to boot. How little we really know of the horror of human against human. How impressive is the ability to recover love and even joy after such evil. This book deserves to be read. Whatever my impression of being too flowery in the first chapter did not remain for the rest of the book. Your straightforward style in these chapters (with a few delightful touches of humor) enhances the feel of the mystery -- and you do convey the emotion of the search beautifully.

I kept reading, choosing to ignore whatever small grammatical errors or typos I might run into -- and there were hardly any -- but I will comment that you used the word "illusive" in several spots, and I think you really mean "elusive."

My bookshelf is full right now with books I want to back, and two in the wings waiting to be added, plus one temporarily removed waiting to be reinstated. I tell you this only because I want you on my bookshelf, but for now I'll have to content myself with keeping you on the list of folks to add ASAP, a five-start rating, and maintenance on my watch list.

Thank you for this. I assume there is another chapter or two to come. Please let me know when you've added them. Also, please feel free to remind me sometime down the road that I wanted to add your book.

Mona

Mrs. Job wrote 833 days ago

Hi Andy,

I've felt remiss in not paying attention to my "friends" who deserve to be first on my list of those to be read. I've had very little time to spend on authonomy lately, but now I'm back, and I've read your first chapter. I'm hooked. I will definitely go on, not because I feel committed to, but because I am drawn to. I do have a couple of comments, however.

The first is just in reference to a typo. I believe you meant to refer to "existing" regimes rather than "exiting" one ...

Another kind of specific observation regarding the breakfast scene. Who was stripped to the waist, the author or the granddad?

You refer to his washing off the results of his earlier labour. Did you mean that he had been out working before breakfast and washed up before preparing food? Or did you mean he had developed almost a compulsion to be clean after his many former years of labour?

What is a "beloved allotment?" (I think you answered that later, but it would be good to understand it in context.)

I'm intrigued with the focus on cleanliness and order. It feels like a metaphor, as well as a reaction to the apparent dirt and blackness of the earlier mines and miners. I hope you'll be doing more with that.

I do have a comment about style. Perhaps it reflects something more about me than you and your writing, but it struck me, especially in the beginning, as needlessly flowery. It doesn't seem like you and those you write about are flowery people, so it feels like an effort to write like you think others would expect you to. I would much prefer just straightforward statements. I would feel a better flow.

The flow comment applies to the content of this first chapter as well. It feels a little choppy to me, which conveys a choppy sense of your life as a child and of the neighborhood. It would be really neat if you could write this the way you would if you were reporting directly to a friend, wanting to be sure he or she gets the meaning and context easily and clearly.

As I said in the beginning, I am hooked and anxious to go on and learn more about your genealogical progress. This is going on my watch list. And I will be back.

FrancesK wrote 837 days ago

Andy, I have read this all the way through. The material you have so carefully put together is a powerful testament to your love for your Grandfather. Your story is poignant and unique - and what a fantastic document it will be for your children and grandchildren to have in the family.
Reading the narrative, I wanted more about yourself. What was the bond that linked you and Maksim? Are you like him in personality? Do you look like him? I ask because the great lengths you have gone to to find out his history, even at risk to yourself, in foreign countries where you could not understand the language, suggest a real compulsion to get closer to this mysterious and tragic man. And I would be interested to know more about that.
The other thing I think you need to do with this book is to make the language simpler. Perhaps you feel that people will not be interested unless you make it 'literary'. But the memories, the details, the facts as you state them, are enough in themselves. Try and make every sentence as direct and unadorned as you can. Give detail, say 'starling', not just 'bird' - but you don't need to say 'feathered friend.' Please trust in your story and its power. I wish you success with it. - Frances K

leelah wrote 842 days ago

What a story - and what a spirit in the authors and their family. I sense this fabric you are talking about in your last paragraph chapter one. Seen from above - from they eye of Spirit - you have woven a fantastic carpet with intricate details. That touches me deeply: this love you are demonstrating with your book here. May it be of help to many others who have not had the guts you have - but maybe now will see the beautiful rich results, changing souls forever.
Thank you for writing this
leelah saachi

Michael Johnson wrote 843 days ago

Hello Andy/Vesna.

I've read the online chapters of your search for your grandfather's roots. This makes a tremendously interesting story, with mystery, drama and suspense, a heady mixture in real life. Your sense of attachment to your grandtather and his memory, your sense of loss and commitment to the search are utterly convincing and very moving.

I think in your narrative you follow the sequence of the actual events in your search and there's no reason to vary this. It would have been possible to move backwards and forwards in time, but as you are delving into the past there is sufficient tension between different time periods to grasp the reader's attention and force him to identify with your questioning. He needs the answers to satisfy his own curiosity.

Throughout this history you emphasise your own emotions and the cumulative effect of this seems to be suiccessful. The events in the account are so interesting in themselves, though, I think perhaps you could have achieved the same effect through a barer account of events, bringing in your feelings only at strategic points. This isn't so much a criticism as a suggestion for an alternative approach.

I look forward to being able to read the remainder of the book, to hearing what you discovered about your grandfather. I'll put your book on my watchlist, give it some stars and I hope to be able to give it some backing in the future.

The best of luck with it.
Michael (Felix Bradninch, Just Making Sure).

jlbwye wrote 869 days ago

Displaced. I read on after finding you three whole months ago..

Ch.2. Life was hard in the '40's and yet the immigrants (displaced persons) were falling over each other to come and work the mines here, rather than be forced to face death by returning to their home countries. Shouldnt that make us all ashamed of our present day demands for 'rights' and pampered living -

You have some memorable turns of phrase: @As the slow passing of childhood years changed gear and seemed to accelerate away from me...'

Your grandfather was indeed an amazing man, to show so much love and tenderness to others, after such suffering. Perhaps his secret is the answer: horrific atrocities are best forgotten - buried, so that love can blossom again. We should not be so keen to revive horrible memories at every anniversary, thus fuelling the fires of hatred. But unless we delve into them, how can we avoid similar mistakes in the future? What an enigma it all is.

That story of Grandad and the well in the allotment is very well described.

Your writing has improved since I read the first chapter. Have you had it edited? But there are three 'some..'s in the one sentence, which might be re-phrased something like this:
'They say some people have the gift of sensing the background of a person, merely through their presence...' (even that's not strictly grammatical; sorry!)

And you mention memory twice in one sentence later on.

I'm so glad I decided to return to your grandfather's world, and will come back for more. Meanwhile, here are even more stars than last time -

Jane (Breath of Africa).

AudreyB wrote 913 days ago

Hi, there – this is a review from AudreyB. I have had your book on my WL for a while, and when AndrewW put us both on his faves for the week, I figured I better get over here and read it! I am often accompanied on my reviews by my English teacher alter-ego, The Grammar Hag. If I say anything you don’t like, it was probably her idea.

I was interested in your book because my mom and her sister were born in East Prussia, which was at the time the eastern-most province of Germany. Their father was reluctant to leave because he owned the most property and would also inherit his uncle’s granary. By the time the family knew they would have to leave, it was too late. The Nazis took my grandfather to fight (he was 44), leaving my grandmother to care for the farm alone with two young children. When the Red Army arrived, she worked as a cook for the officers, but eventually starved to death. My grandfather eventually found my mother in a Red Cross orphanage, and my aunt found her way to relatives in Bavaria via another route. I don’t know if I will ever be able to research them because their church was burned to the ground. I am therefore interested in stories about other families whose lives have been disrupted by war.

“Alas, now genealogy has put paid to such claims.” What does this mean?

When you begin chapter 1, we don’t have any indication of where we are in history until you mention the German army. Do you want to offer clearer info sooner?

Your exhausting search should be your exhaustive search. Though I expect the search was also exhausting. I am just guessing you meant it was thorough.

This is lovely. I’m not paying any attention to the grammar or punctuation of your work. It’s just so interesting! You are making me just as curious about your grandfather as you were. I love reading about the allotment and the day Grandfather got stuck in the well.

Your grandfather and my mom would get along very well. She grows quite a tomato herself. The commitment to work weighed just as heavily on my mom and her sister. That’s all my mom remembers of the years after the war: that everyone must work. And like your grandfather, my mom speaks a peculiar angry language in her sleep. She does things her way or not at all. And like you, I eventually got to visit East Prussia, in the summer of 2000.

You have dependant near the top of chapter 3; should be dependent. Carer should be caregiver.
“…this man who’s past she knew little about….” Should be whose.

It’s late and I have to go to bed. I will read more tomorrow.

~AudreyB
Forgiveness Fits

Andrew W. wrote 922 days ago

Displaced

Hi Andy and Vesna,

Sorry it has taken me a while to get to you, but it is worth the wait. An observant, intelligent biographical journey, words chosen carefully to convey just the right effect. The nostalgia for the idea of Granddad and of the unearthing of his story suffuses the entire piece. The enjoyment was spoiled a little by the long lead-in, you seem to have have pseudo-prologue thing going on, for me everything to the north of the sentence that begins: "Featherstone is a town in the Wakefield district..." is surplus to requirements in terms of storying this piece. You have such a clear style, weighty words, thoughtfully deployed, a tragic mystery to unfurl, the navel-gazing beginning where you enter the story and occlude in some respects its simple power - Granddad's the star and your love of him - detract from the moment when you can truly hook your reader. There is nothing that I read in that preamble, almost like you're giving yourself a run up to the truly difficult and full-on memories, which could not be disposed of and be of benefit to the story. The self-reflection there weighs it down, whereas starting with a simple prosaic geographical and demographic reference to Wakefield is the sharp snap of reality and history colliding. This is about a real person and the secret life before we knew them. Let's know them first through your memories of them, preambling is not required.

Beautifully and cleverly written, harrowing to behold in many places and delivered throughout with the gentle voice of love and deep, deep respect.

Best wishes and the best of luck
Andrew W
(Benevolence)

Hogan W wrote 937 days ago

Backed and highly starred, you've both been very brave to go through this journey, let alone write a book about it.

Annabelle Hinkley wrote 947 days ago

Although I had to stop reading at the end of Chapter Two as I found the descriptions horrifyingly accurate and very harrowing, I found Displaced to be a beautifully written book and I have no doubt your style of writing is consistent throughout.

I have read others' comments and agree that there is a lot of research gone into your book, but more importantly a lot of your soul.

There is much to capture the reader. Anyone from a northern town in the 70's will remember how funerals were conducted. In our street, when I was little, not only would the steps be scrubbed, but everyone would close their curtains out of respect, and children would be chastised if they were caught peering through the gaps in them. Anyone who has ever read about the horrors of war from the siege of Leningrad to the civil atrocities in Africa will connect with the horrors of your family's past.

I wish that I could read more, and I hope that others continue the review that I cannot.

Constructive comments:

I struggled to find anything which could improve your book so I forced myself to find at least one thing. Chapter two. When you wrote 'who really are you' did you mean 'who are you really?'

I genuinely wish you every success in what is obviously a very deep and personal journey and have every opportunity to share it with others.

Tom Bye wrote 952 days ago

Hello to you both .Andy and Vesna--

Book- Displaced-

A book that involved painstaking research to discover past family history.
After reading the first four chapters, i can see that it's all of the above,
It is very well documented and will certainly be of interest to social historians; as it does, depictions the hardship of strife as it was then.
A book written from heart and relates to harrowing scenes.
All in All, it's a most accomplished book.
good luck, it will do very well in its genre

Tom Bye Dublin Ireland
book- from hugs to kisses.
please glance at mine, again a saga of social history, however it's laced with humour to hide the deprivation.
thanks

jlbwye wrote 960 days ago

Displaced. Your cover is interesting, and looks appropriate to your story, and your pitches tell me what to expect (you repeat the word tightly in the first sentence of the long pitch). I am fascinated by your unusual story.

I take notes as I write, and dont pretend to be an expert.

Intro. I like your beginning, but take care not to repeat words in a paragraph, throughout your chapters. (before, n/ever, country, sadly, strange).
You could just say Yugoslavia's bloody and violent past. Unnecessary words jump out at me and detract from what you want to say.

Ch.1. What a clear, succinct summary of the aftermath of the war in that first paragraph. Better than most history books, and I've read many.
Sometimes I wonder at the advisability of delving into past wars, as they do serve to re-ignite old hatreds and vengeful thoughts, which would be better buried, leaving the generations that follow greater opportunity to live together in love, peace and forgiveness. But I do understand the inner compulsion to find out about one's ancestors. It is natural, and we want to identify who we are, also for the benefit of our children. Isnt it a difficult world we live in.
I like the metaphor of the coin. You have an original way of describing things, and you create a compulsion in the reader to find out about those secret days your grandfather. I wonder why he kept them secret, and if, perhaps, his family were right in not respecting his great desire for secrecy. There are two sides to a coin!
'The East European accent remaining strong within his words...' (a great way of saying it) should continue: 'made him difficult to understand by those not accustomed to his voice.'
'Like a warm pillow of protection' - a lovely simile.

You paint a simple, healthy picture of your grandfather and Featherstone in those days, in a very pleasing style. Your grammar needs editing in places, some changes in scene need smoothing, and repetitions need addressing, but we all need to revise.
And then you lead the reader onward with a tantalising mention of the brother.

Thankyou for this lovely read.
Jane (Breath of Africa).

Walden Carrington wrote 967 days ago

The research which went into writing Displaced is truly remarkable. This is unlike any other work I've seen and I applaud your brave look into your fascinating family history. Six stars for originality.

Walden Carrington
Titanic: Rose Dawson's Story

Margaret Anthony wrote 1008 days ago

It's quite hard to pass on in-depth comment when the work is non-fiction simply because I think fiction is written from the head whereas non-fiction is more likely to come from the heart. A pretty sweeping statement, I know but I hope it makes sense.
All I will say is this makes an interesting story told with a thoughtful flow which brings the reader close to the events which unfold. The setting is different and the story individual but neverthless anyone who has searched in order to trace family or roots will quickly identify with the set-backs, blind alleys and lost leads which are inevitable in such a search.
I think if you tweak the detail so we feel a greater sense of reality, you'll add colour to a well told story. But this is your story and the premise is unusal so I wish you well with it. Starred and on my shelf. Margaret.

grantdavid wrote 1014 days ago

This is an unusual tale, although describing factual boyhood memories and narrated in the simplest and most natural way.
This has led to a sometimes loose, over-colloquial style, with long verbless sentences and meaningless repetitions (e.g. "each and every"), besides an excessive use of adjectives. In a live, spoken commentary this would go unnoticed, and perhaps add a sense of expressiveness. However, in a written text, it causes the reader to stop and reorganise the pattern of thoughts.
If all this could be passed through a sieve,, I'd have no hesitation in putting the book on my shelf.
Best wishes,
David Grant
"Pompey Chimes"

RossClark1981 wrote 1029 days ago

- Displaced -

(Based on the prologue and chapters 1 and 2)

There are many reasons why the premise of this drew me in: I’m getting to that age now where I am starting to think about where I came from and becoming interested in my forbears in a way that I would never have been in earlier years. I have an interest in Yugoslav history stemming from a project at university. And I teach a course in migration studies. Displaced combines all of this elements so, for me personally, it’s a wonderful premise for a book.

I should note two points before going on to comment any further. The first is that, although there was once a time when I read nothing but biographies, it’s been about five years since I read one and I have rather forgotten how they ‘work’. So my comments can be taken within the context that I wouldn’t be able to write one myself. Secondly, I actually read this three days ago but lost my notes and haven’t been able to find them since. As such, I will be relying on memory and will not manage as detailed a comment as I had hoped so I apologise for that.

So....

For me, the prologue didn’t really feel like a prologue as such but more of a foreword. I could see the rationale behind laying out the purpose of the book but it did seem more of a note to the reader than anything else. There were also a few times I was lost in sentences that felt a little long and unwieldy, particularly in the last four paragraphs.

In the first chapter, I enjoyed the hints at something dramatic to be unearthed later about the grandfather’s past in the old country and the mix of this with the Yorkshire setting and salt of the earth people that a working class Scotsman will never tire of reading about. I began to note hear though that there appears to be some repetition of the prologue, i.e., hints at how the search for the Grandfather’s past will be carried out. It made me begin to wonder whether the prologue was at all necessary.

The main thing I began to notice was that I didn’t really have a feel for who the grandfather was. There is a lot on the narrator’s love for him but I didn’t get anything from the text that gave me a sense of the man and the relationship with the narrator. Why does he love him so much? I would have liked more character defining anecdotes in there to really draw me a clearer picture. The short parts about him not wanting to marry or to get UK citizenship were excellent as they gave me an idea of a hard man, strong in his beliefs. But other anecdotal parts, like the incident in the allotment, seem more about the narrator and didn’t give me enough of the grandfather to know who he was.

In chapter two I began to feel that there was more scene setting going on than anything else. Again, I want to know more about the grandfather. His story interests me and I have a myriad of questions going through my head about him What kind of man is he? Does he have an accent when he speaks English? Is his English broken? How does he interact with others?

I also noticed that there are a lot of passive sentences in the scene setting passages describing Yorkshire and the times. I’m not one of those who says that not using passives is a ‘rule’ but, as it was in combination with historical detail, it did tend to give the text a slightly textbook feel for me in places.

As I say, I very much like the premise for this and I think there’s a great story in there. Certainly there is some very good writing. There were just a few elements that didn’t work for me personally. And as I mentioned before, I’m no expert on biography writing – in fact I am a complete novice in all forms of writing – so my comments can be taken with a large dose of salt and I make no claims at all to being right in anything I’ve said.

All the best with it,

Ross

Lady Midnight wrote 1033 days ago

Hi there, just finished reading the prologue and opening chapter of Displaced. I’m amazed at the detailed and evocative picture you’ve given the reader of both your grandfather and your childhood surroundings. Apart from a few nitpicks, which are just my opinion, this was a superb piece of writing and I wish you the very best of luck with it. Backed.

Pitch.
The pitch is tight, focused and gives the sense of a good read. Just one nitpick, the repetition of the word “tightly” at the beginning: Bosnia has become an old country of scars, (tightly) guarding her secrets (tightly) against.... I don’t think the second bracketed word is needed.
Prologue.
Repetition: The stories began to unfold from both sides, though (differently) told; stories and memories so very (different)... Although the repetition of “stories” works, as it’s being used for emphasis, the words “differently” and “different”, in my opinion, do not. I would suggest replacing “different” with diverse, which gives the same meaning and at the same time weeds out the repetition.
Chapter one.
Steps taken forwards, sleepwalking back again – what a wonderful way to describe your frustration – so evocative. I could almost feel your despair. I say “almost” not as a reflection on your writing, but because I have never been in such a situation as this and would not presume to say I “know” how you felt.
....the passing of time at last embraced the reunion some sixty years after the coin was tossed for the very first time – again, wonderful phrasing to describe your grandfather’s separation from his family and country.
Sparrows always fascinated me, each time I looked out of the window I had at my grandparents’ house overlooking Gladstone Street. They would busy themselves... The syntax in these sentences seems a little off. It also sounds as though it’s your grandparents who are busying themselves in their daily lives and not the birds. Would suggest rejigging along the lines of: My bedroom in my Grandparents house overlooked Gladstone Street. Each time I looked out of the window I would watch the sparrows with fascination as they busied themselves... something along those lines.
Syntax: Sparrows (in) my generation... bracketed word should be “of”.
Repetition: ... I do not know to this (day). ...a world away from the healthy eating bigots of (today). Perhaps (nowadays) a stringent programme... The bracketed words are too much a like and mar the flow of the narrative. Suggest rejigging along the lines of: ...I do not know. ...a far cry from the healthy eating bigots of today. Perhaps here in the present a stringent programme... Something along those lines.
...but no, sparrows, rainfall and bacon rind will always, I fear, be the essence of my early years. Loved this – so very evocative.
...who’d have the cleanest steps – to be remembered for eternity by the departed. As above, wonderfully evocative, brings an instant image of your childhood surroundings.
Syntax: ...remains steeped (within) rugby tradition. Bracketed word should be “in.”
...once trod the sacred turf of my yesterdays. You have a real talent for evocative narrative that paints a mental picture for the reader.
The allocated strip of workable soil was his own to do (with) as he pleased. Missing the bracketed word.


markwoodburn wrote 1036 days ago

Fascinating and harrowing. I used to have neighbours from Bosnia, a family who told us a horrific tale of their journey to the west. This is a reminder of what can happen still, even in Europe today. Starred, regards, Mark

missyfleming_22 wrote 1037 days ago

This is great, but I knew I didn't have to worry about one of your books! There is a great mystery to it and it keeps the reader following along and guessing. I had to keep checking to make sure it was non-fiction, it didn't read like that to me. It's an amazing story and I think one that lots of people will be interested to read.

Very enjoyable!
Missy

J.S.Watts wrote 1038 days ago

A gripping and emotive tale and at the heart of it all, an unresolved mystery (at least for readers here at Authonomy).

Despite the raw fascination of the story, I wasn'y totally impressed with the prologue, but I recognise the desire to set out some facts before the story begins, however......

I thought the prologue would benefit from an edit. There were some clunky sentences there and some mixed images and metaphors.

As I said, I recognise the need for a scene setting prologue, so I then looked forward to reading chapter1 as the opportunity to get into the heart of the story, but I came across more scene setting. For me, after the prologue, it was a bit too much. You might want to think about losing the prologue or getting into the story with the first paragraph of chapter 1 if you want to appeal to readers like me, i.e .this isn't normally the kind of book I would browse in a book shop, so I need hooking into the story more than most.

J.S.Watts
A Darker Moon

B A Morton wrote 1043 days ago

Andy/Vesna
This is fascinating story and your determination to discover the truth about your Grandfather Maksim is to be commended. There are some wonderful images as you describe your childhood recollections of him. The image of the allotment with its inpenetrable hedge and sturdy door, which when opened revealed Maksim's world and character was particularly evocative.
The mystery builds throughout as you wonder aloud about who this secretive and proud man really was, and what he and his associates might having been trying to protect with their wall of silence. This is played out wonderfully against the background of the miners strike.
Your parents visit to an essentially alien environment and their treatment by the locals, was actually quite scary, and I can understand your mother's reluctance when you decided to return. I wonder what was actually written on the note she was given, which the locals took such umbrage at?
So I'm at the end of ch9, you're almost at the end of a remarkable and lengthy search and I realise I'm not going to discover the secret's of Maksim's life...at least not yet...
A remarkable tale, which I could see brought to life further in a documentary. I think people would be shocked by the brutality of what occurred in Bosnia and would be captivated by following the story of one "ordinary man" and how his life was affected by it.

Thank you for sharing this.

Babs

12