Gathering Roses Among The Thorns
by Jeannette Romaniuk
Trafford Publishing

"Time went by very quickly in our household; in fact we never had enough of that precious commodity to do everything we wanted to do. Boredom or loneliness were words that did not exist in our vocabulary."

Work-life balance is not just a modern concept. Today's media may portray working women as harried urban executives in desperate need of nannies, but this kind of juggling act has been with us for generations. Gathering Roses Among Thorns takes a look at this struggle through the eyes of Evangeline Jeannette Romaniuk (née Gaumond), born in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1919 and destined for the multiple roles of schoolteacher, wife, and mother of seven. Romaniuk's memoir begins on the hardscrabble farm she vividly depicts with childhood stories of late-night potato picking and fading photographs of her raggedy band of siblings gathered in front of their log cabin. She explains how she made her way from the potato fields to a one-room schoolhouse, and found herself managing a career, a difficult marriage, and a growing family. Romaniuk's days brought triumph in the form of well-educated students, but also heartbreak. When her husband proved unreliable, she was forced to send some of her children to live with relatives while she struggled to put food on the table.

Strong on specifics pertaining to everyday life, like her son Walter's love of reading or her compulsive need to polish the floors weekly, Romaniuk remains vague on more personal, emotional issues. She openly admits that she leaves out the most upsetting moments in her life because it is too painful for her to relive them. Instead, she turns to sweeping, dramatic descriptions. Thus she condemns the "tempestuous winds of capricious destiny" rather than reveal the specifics of her losses. The missing details create a distance between memoirist and reader in this otherwise admirable tale of real-life courage and perseverance.

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