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A Life of Faith and Courage

by Travis Short and Nancy Laning
Publication Date: 14/08/2023

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RRP  $27.49

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ANNA is an account of the life of Anna Marie Gamble, blending fact with fiction. The story is based on a frank and revealing memoir written by Anna at age 84 at the request of her children. The author met her when she was 96 years old while visiting his brother's wife at a convalescent facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The author assumes the person of his brother in telling the story. It parallels most of the chapters of Anna's memoir.

The author steps out of the story for a brief interlude following Chapter Nine. The cumulative effect of Anna's travails leads him to a moment of contemplation to reflect on the cruelty and enormous problems she overcomes through faith. He is reminded of the story The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel and likens Anna to St. Bernadette.

The story takes place in various rural areas of Pennsylvania near Scranton. As told by Anna, her family moved forty times by the time she was fourteen years old. They lived in small clapboard shacks and apartments barely habitable by humans, finally settling into a large, rented farm, where they lived until Anna left home at age 18. Ten children were born into the family, five of them having died before she was six years old.

The book begins with a short preface, in Anna's words, followed by an introduction by the author. In Chapter 1, Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother, Anna recalls a hellish existence at age four, in particular, the dysfunctional relationship between her mother and father. The mother, Della Duvall, was absent from the home for long periods with no knowledge by the family of her whereabouts. The father, Daniel, was an exceptional musician and passed his talents onto his children. He often drank in excess and had an explosive temper. He was cruel to his children at times, especially Anna, who was anemic and suffered from rickets.

The author takes up the story after meeting Anna at age 96. Their daily encounters are described with humor and humility. After Anna is unable to care for herself, the author moves her into the room with his wife where he can assist with her needs and ensure that she is properly cared for in her waning days. She maintains an unrelenting belief in life hereafter to the end.

Anna in an inspiration to all of us.

Historical Fiction
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Country of origin:
United States

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