A Good Home, Books, Preserves

Women of Substance – Author Anne Van Burek’s family

Anne Nenarokoff-Van Burek is the kind of woman I’d like to be when I grow up.  The kind of woman who, in addition to being talented at her profession,  knows how to cook, bake, make delicious preserves AND grow orchids!

Blog Photo - Anne et cusine

I’ve tasted Anne’s “poires au vinaigre” – pears with spices — and it’s addictive.

Blog Photo - Annes Preserves

The woman has flair. Anne knows how to arrange flowers, art and furniture in a room (something which challenges me greatly).

Blog Photo - Bouquet -Jardin

Her home is decorated simply and elegantly – in that French way of combining new stuff with old stuff and still have it all look lovely.

Blog Photo - Salle a manger

Anne is as much at home in Paris as she is in Toronto.

Blog Photo - Salon chez Anne

She has a great relationship with her son and her husband.  And as if all that weren’t enough, Anne teaches French, writes for the theatre and has written an intriguing memoir.

Blog Photo - Book Cover

Ariadne’s Thread: The Women in My Family is  a refreshing read.  It tells the story of the remarkable women in Anne’s family, all of whom were born in Russia before the 1917 revolution. They escaped to France, where, Anne says, “they had to adapt to a life radically different from what they had known. When their world collapsed, they could either collapse with it, or reinvent themselves.”

Blog Photo - Ariadne's Thread 1

The women came from a privileged background.  In Paris, they still had their upper-class manners and traditions, but their income and social standing were both drastically reduced. It was a harsh change and one that could have broken their spirits. They chose to survive instead.

From these women – Anne’s grandmother, aunts and her mother – Anne learned values which have guided her own life: “resilience in adversity, self-reliance, frugality”.

I’ve read this book twice. I gobbled it up the first time –  then read it again, more slowly.

I love it for the characters: Anne’s grandmother, aunts (so different from each other), and her mother. And I love it for the small details (such as Anne’s unmanageable reddish hair when she was a girl, and her teacher’s face and neck, among many other skillful descriptions).

Anne's Father and Aunts
Anne’s Father and Aunts

Canada’s story is sometimes described as “a story of immigration”.  All of us have roots – close roots or distant ones – in another part of the world.  Some of those immigrants came seeking better opportunities for themselves and their children.  Some families gave up luxury to gain freedom.  They fled war, revolution, oppression – leaving their privileged lifestyles, loved ones and precious belongings behind.

Whatever our history, wherever our roots, the stories we Canadians tell are often infused with dreams, sacrifice and faith in a better tomorrow.

By examining the lives of the women in her family, Anne’s book offers “clues for a better future”.

Anne Nenarakoff-Van Burek

“If we want a better world,” she says, “we could do worse than turn to a few old-fashioned values and work at putting them into practice. The book is a tribute to the precious heritage I received from people who lived and loved fully, and for whom everyday life was a celebration. I hope they will inspire many.”

Blog Photo - Inka

Ariadne’s Thread: The Women in My Family is available on Friesen Press, amazon and through most booksellers worldwide. You can buy the book in English or in a bilingual version (French and English). Below are the ISBN numbers:

  • 978-1-897018-53-8 is the bi-lingual version
  • 978-1-4602-0721-5 (Hardcover, English)
  • 978-1-4602-0719-2 (Softcover, English)

One last thing:   did I mention that Anne also embroiders?  That’s her work on the book cover.

A talented woman and an interesting book.

Colour Photos by John Van Burek.

21 thoughts on “Women of Substance – Author Anne Van Burek’s family”

  1. J’ai adoré ce livre, je l’ai relu plusieurs fois, je m’y retrouve.
    Cet article élogieux convient parfaitement.

    1. Merci beaucoup, Claudine.
      Je l’ai adore aussi.
      Plusieurs fois! Wow!
      Je l’ai lu seulement deux fois.

      Thanks, Claudine.
      I love it too.
      Several times! Wow!
      I’ve read it only twice.

  2. Nous l’avons lu, relu, offert…. Tendre et dur à la fois …
    Merci, Anne, d’avoir si merveilleusement écrit sur ce thème, si finement tissé ce ” fil ” avec talent, justesse, humour.
    Nous avons été très sensibles à la beauté de l’article, des photos …

    et André ( également fils d’immigrants )

    1. Merci beaucoup, Suzette et Andre.
      Anne dit merci aussi, et: “Je suis très touché.”

      Andre and Suzette: Many thanks.
      Anne says thanks and also: “I am very touched by your comments.”

  3. A talented woman + what a mentor to all….but to be honest, you + she had my attention with her RED kitchen—-I was sold there, I would find her a delight:-) for in my opinion, anyone with a RED kitchen would be fun + brilliant to know-case closed-lol..thank you for sharing! I will check her book out:-)

    1. I tell you, Clare: here I am just trying to learn to cook and make a good apple jelly, and people like Anne are moving the goal posts farther and farther away from my ever being able to feel like I’m half a domestic diva.

  4. What an inspirational and determined woman Cynthia, thank you for sharing her story. One of the nicest things about blogging is learning of folk you would not normally come across.

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