Three Books: Harry’s SPARE, Parenting, a Pandemic Novel

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We have three recommendations this month, including the Head Tomato’s review of SPARE. Plus a parenting book, and a riveting novel that takes place during the pandemic.

Spare is a Top-Notch Memoir

I recently took Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to task for publicly airing some of their many grievances with the royal family. And I admit when passages from Harry’s memoir, SPARE were released, I cringed. However, now, having actually read the memoir, I will say that many of those sensationalized passages were taken out of context, and some, like Harry losing his virginity were really only a couple of sentences within a much broader book. Now I know there are those of you who dislike Harry and Meghan and will never read the book. But for those of you who like them, and or which just like to keep an open mind, this is a TERRIFIC book and an excellent memoir.

It’s very well written, by a ghostwriter, who did a brilliant job of capturing Harry’s voice and making you feel you actually know him. That is the mark of a good memoir. So, here’s my take:

Harry is an extremely likeable guy. He definitely had a tough time through adolescence and throughout his twenties. The death of his mother deeply impacted him – he actually believed for a very long time she had simply disappeared to get away from the press and would show up again. William apparently thought that too, but only for a while. He suffered from PTSD having served in ground war in the service. He did not get any mental health therapy until he met Meghan.

His career in the military is a highlight of his life and served admirably.

He loves his father and that is very clear throughout the book.

He adored his grandmother.

Neither he or William have a warm and fuzzy relationship with Camilla, although they realize she makes their father happy.

He and William have really not gotten along since their mother died. William comes across as sometimes a bully, cold, and definitely plays up his “heir” status, to Harry’s “spare.” Of course, we are not hearing William’s side of that story and probably never will.

The “fab four” had problems from the get-go.

Harry very much resented being a “spare” and it didn’t take a lot for him to feel that way, i.e., he was a given a small room at Sandringham on holidays.  Hello? He was still in a castle.

He never liked the royal life and the paparazzi who have always been in his life.

His dream was to find someone to love and have a family. He found that with Meghan and they seem to truly be in love.

It was his decision to walk away from the royal family.

Throughout the book, you will find wonderful descriptions of some of the royal homes, the not so royal “Nottingham Cottage”, and his many trips to Africa which is where he always found solace.

But most of all, if you have an open mind, you will feel for this young man who is putting all his feelings out there, and who desperately wants his version of the story out there. He wants to be heard.

I wanted to hug him many times while reading the book, and just wish someone had been there in the rough times to do just that. GET THE BOOK.

~Cheryl Benton, New York, aka, “The head Tomato.”

A Terrific Guide to Raising Children

The Parent Compass, by Cynthia Clumeck Muchnick, MA & Jenn Curtis, MSW, is a terrific guide to help in raising children.  Every parent should read this book to help one understand how to engage with our teens and parent with more awareness.  The authors provide us with suggestions for parenting while also saying there is no one way to parent. They understand the more important goal is to keep the line of communication open between you and your child.

Parenting teenagers is really hard work, certainly is the hardest job I ever had. We as parents just do our best every day to raise healthy, happy, and successful human beings.   The Parent Compass is what a family needs to help guide them through the rough years, as I call it.  This book will show parents to trust their instincts and to step back when the urge to helicopter parent a child arises.

This book is a must read for any parent who wants an independent, confident, emotionally healthy, loving, and successful child who becomes an adult.  I wish I would have had such a wonderful book resource when we were raising our daughter.  These are two experts you can trust.  I loved this book and highly recommend it. GET THE BOOK.

~Francene Katzen, Richmond, Virginia, advocate for parents who have children with drug addictions

Lucy by the Sea, a story of how love endures in many guises

Author Elizabeth Strout continues her Lucy Barton series (this is book #4) in Lucy by the Sea, sharing her pandemic experience. In spare prose, written as a diary or journal, she writes how she was transported from her NYC apartment to Maine by her ex-husband and sometimes friend, William, who was concerned for her well-being and wanted to safeguard her.

Keeping each other company in a large house on the rugged coast of Maine, we get glimpses of the intricacies of their relationship as a married couple with children and of the friendship that develops between them when Lucy’s second husband dies. We see how relationships evolve and change, how love endures in different guises.

The sense of pandemic isolation is enhanced by the setting – a rocky coastline on the edge of the ocean during the bleak months of winter, with few other people around. There are not a lot of activities to break up the day, except for long walks morning and afternoon, a jigsaw puzzle, and an occasional trip into town to buy groceries, which requires wearing gloves and washing your clothes as soon as you return.

We are reminded of the precautions of high pandemic alert when one of their two daughters breaks up with her boyfriend in Brooklyn and moves into the carriage house of the Connecticut estate where the other daughter is living with her husband in his parents’ home.  Lucy and William go to extreme measures to protect their daughters when his parents suddenly decide to return home from Florida. Having been living the loose Florida lifestyle of partying and socializing, golfing and tennis, traveling by airplane, they have obviously been exposed to the virus. How can William prevent them from coming back to their own home, jeopardizing the safety of his daughters?

You will enjoy this book if you are curious about someone else’s pandemic experience, how it played out, and the emotions that it stirred up. For me it brought back the urgency of that time, which is now fortunately receding from memory. GET THE BOOK.

~ Joan Pagano, owner of Joan Pagano Fitness, NYC


The Three Tomatoes Book Shelf
If you love books you've come to the right place. Here's where you'll find great books that our Tomato reviewers have read and think other tomatoes will love too. Enjoy.

Book Review

The Three Tomatoes Book Shelf If you love books you've come to the right place. Here's where you'll find great books that our Tomato reviewers have read and think other tomatoes will love too. Enjoy.

1 Response

  1. Ellen Easton says:

    Thank you, Cheryl for keeping an open mind about Prince Harry. I have always said privilege is an accident of birth but In no way does it negate one’s right to the same happiness all others are entitled to have in their lives. Let’s all hope Harry and Megan are given the same courtesy to live in peace with their children.

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