“The fire glows brightly, the wood floors nearby reflecting its warmth.The burning logs smell of maple and apple wood. Embers spark. Wood ash sifts through the grate.”
Like a spark that flares into a raging fire in an instant, Cynthia Reyes’s memoir, A Good Home, starts with her describing her recovery from a life-changing accident, and her husband’s quest to find stories she had written over previous decades. Many of those stories centred on homes that shaped her life, from Jamaica to Toronto to Vancouver and back. Over the course of a year, his search led him to find her stories in old envelopes, torn bags, ragged boxes, and computers – past and present. Some of those computer files required finding equipment old enough to read them. Reading and re-reading those stories helped her re-discover her life and re-connect her life with the written word. A Good Home is beautifully written and woven between those generations of homespun memories is a common thread: the importance of having the wisdom to choose just the right home and the grace to say goodbye when it is time.
“Ambercroft Farm, the sign out front said. Hamlin was on a first name basis with the grand old farmhouse right from the start, calling it Ambercroft. For years, I didn’t call it anything at all. The tall, two-story Victorian house seemed sealed off from the rest of the neighbourhood. Within a solid wooden fence and gates, massive maples waved big leafy arms. Pines and dense blue-green spruces soared. A cedar hedge ran the length of the property on one side. This was a private place, sure of its personality and power.”
In An Honest House Cynthia Reyes continues her memoir as a “stand-alone” sequel to A Good Home. Her 150 year old farmhouse and its prolific gardens acts as a backdrop to the cast of supporting characters that surround her: family, friends, neighbours, and even previous residents from many decades gone by. This book is really about people. All people who had come through her steadfast farmhouse. People who supported her in her challenging times, and who, in return shared their laughs, love, and their own life’s struggles with her. It’s also about inner strength, fortitude, courage, and determination. I often think as I walk through neighbourhoods that behind every shuttered window is a story. Often those stories are ones only the walls and maybe a few select people ever witness. For some a house is a sanctuary, but when life presents a crisis, it can also be a cage, or a container. A container for your inner circle, your thoughts, dreams, hopes, doubts and your fears. Cynthia Reyes lifts the curtains and shares her very personal story that is packed with emotion and honesty.