The little girls in this photo are Vivian, on the right, and her sister Roslyn.
Their childhood home had a vast library and Vivian loved reading books.
Classics for Junior Readers, the eleven volumes of The Foundation Library for Young People and the family’s encyclopedia were among her childhood favorites.
“My father was a very accomplished man (lawyer, Member of Parliament for Ontario, the founder and first President of the Mt. Sinai Hospital, first violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra) and he always encouraged my reading and learning as a child.
“So reading was something I always did.”
Vivian was so bright that she skipped grades in school.
She graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor of household science degree and worked as a dietitian till shortly after her marriage. She and her husband Bud had three daughters.
Daughter Arna, a retired English teacher and now a writer and proofreader, read A Good Home and gave a copy to her mother.
“When I asked my Mom how she liked the book, she said it was one of the best she had ever read! And considering she had been reading for a good 90 years, that would be a lot of books!”
I gulped with delight and asked: “Why?”
Vivian replied: “I can picture all of her houses – her descriptions are so vivid. I can still see the house up on a hill. It brought back memories of travelling in the Caribbean and different stages of my life.”
“Two of the best things about books are that we can travel to different times and places through them, and we can learn something new with each one.”
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is still one of Vivian’s all-time favorites.
Bud died a few years ago. At 96, and no longer able to walk, Vivian spends much of her time in her room. Reading, she says, is “a wonderful diversion at this stage of life when outings and new experiences are limited.”
While Arna was proofreading the manuscript for my second book (Beloved Gardens) she asked my permission to read the book to her mother. Of course, I agreed.
“It gives me great pleasure to look at my Mom sitting in her wheelchair with a big smile on her face. Or sometimes she nods her agreement to whatever Cynthia wrote.
“Sometimes she closes her eyes (still smiling) and I know that she is visualizing the scene. When I told her that the finished book would include lovely photos, she said that it didn’t really need pictures as she could see everything clearly just from the words. The book takes her on a journey in her mind.”
“These are the kind of books you can read over and over again,” says Vivian. “They make you smile and they make you cry. Because the book is so picturesque, I can think back and the memories are lovely.”
And you are the kind of reader authors love, Vivian! Thank you most kindly for loving books, including mine.