|No Fourth River book review.|
Christine was born into a family in which her father's parenting style was over-the-top abusive. At the tender age of 5 (just old enough for kindergarten in the US), she was sent to a boarding school with nuns who not only shamed and tormented Christine but encouraged the other students to do the same. So it is no surprise that Christine turned to sex and alcohol as a teen. Then things turned really bad.
No Fourth River by Christine Clayfield
Set in Belgium and the UK, Christine describes her life from age 5 to 58. She describes how the actions and inaction of others leave scars - physical and emotional.
No Fourth River's Cast of Characters
Christine's Father - Christine's father is a wealthy businessman and well-known in their village. We are given the impression that he's ruthless in business and clearly he's ruthless in his expectations for his wife and children.
Christine's Mother - Christine's mother conspires with the children to have happier times, to hide some things from their father, and provide for their material needs. And yet she is unable or unwilling to stop the abuse.
"Mum regularly got the worst of my father, and she never seemed to be able to please him for long, although she never gave up trying"
"I remember my mother telling me once, in later life, that she stayed in the relationship because of my father's money."
Christine's Brothers - Of the 5 children in the family, all are boys except Christine. The children take their roles in the family. Kane takes the role of being most able to meet dad's expectations and avoids some of the physical punishments. However, it is clear that even he has not escaped unscathed.
Christine's Husband - After Christine leaves home and is living independently, yet constantly in the realm of poor choices, she marries her 1st husband. During that marriage she is nearly murdered. She decides "enough is enough". Christine finds her voice, and the trajectory of her life changes.
Shame & Doubt - Shame and Doubt are so tangible in this story that it as though they become part of the list of main characters. Humans make decisions, usually horrible decisions, based on Shame and Doubt. Christine was not immune to this. Through the story she describes how shame and self-doubt initially controlled her but then how she learned to take control of herself and her life - relegating shame and doubt to the shadows.
Well-meaning friends and miscellaneous onlookers - I have learned in my experiences at work and in life that it often seems easier to take the physical abuse from the abuser than the hurtful things they say. And sometimes, even more hurtful, are the reactions (real or imagined) of friends or onlookers.
"I felt their eyes on me and their pity and anger. It felt terrible to be so exposed like this, for people to see how my husband treated me."
There are many other very important characters in this story, but I don't want to risk any spoilers. I want you to discover these important people naturally as the story unfolds. To learn how Christine finds her true self and not only survives but launches into a life of her creation.
This book begins with the harsh realities of child abuse, teen rebellion, and domestic violence. The subject matter is TOUGH. There are no gratuitously violent scenes in the book. However, there are many violent scenes described. I felt nothing was told in a shocking manner just for the shock value and to sell the story. But the truth of this subject matter cannot be told without exposing the cruelty that occurs when people choose to abuse. The lessons can't be learned without honesty - even if that honesty is what nightmares are sometimes made of.
Christine Clayton describes the transition from the abuse and turmoil to her life as a happily married wife, successful business woman, public speaker and advocate. She ends the book with an afterword that includes some of her philosophy, why she doesn't blame her abusers, the reality of some of her health issues as a result of the abuse, and 12 valuable messages meant to help others.
"If I can change one person's life who will read this book, I will have achieved my goal. I have shared my life experiences and hope to make a difference in someone else's life"
Having worked in the field of social work for over 20 years, I am quite sure that her story, her style of telling it, and her sharing of the lessons learned will help many people in a variety of ways. I highly recommend No Fourth River. This is the most important story I've read in quite some time.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author for review. However, all comments are mine and based on my honest reaction to the book.
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