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Dancing with the Mask Paperback – 1 Oct 2008
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Sue's autobiography is a two tales side-by-side, one external; one internal,amix of the geographical and psychological. The first part deals with her early life in the Argentine and the second with her life in the UK/USA/UK to date. Her parents fled Central Europe in 1938 and spent 6 years in Bolivia where her parents wandered across the Chacos with her father involved in electrification of the rural areas. She was regaled with tales of her parents living in mud huts with no drains whilst this work was undertaken. In 1944 they moved to the Argentina where Sue was born in 1945. Settling in the outskirts of Buenos Aires they saved enough to send Sue to the local private school. In a war-torn world, General Peron issued passports to all who could afford them so a great section of the populace consisted of Jews who fled Fascism and Fascists who fled the Allies. Sue's father had an overwhelming fear of getting too closely identified with either and impressed the need for an anodyne personality on to Sue. Not only was she forbidden to identify with classmates or neighbours, she was also, albeit inadvertently, prevented from identifying with herself. Neutrality par excellence, deferring to others and reflecting what she thought they expected to see. In a part of the world which has a highly volatile political charge at the best of times, all of the above makes absolute sense. Also, given her parents' experiences pre-1938, their desire to protect Sue from harm is total understandable although, by loving her dearly (and the love was returned by Sue with interest) they did stir up problems for the future. The second part of Sue's story starts in 1965 at the age of 20 when she came to the UK by sea having left school at 14 and taken courses in typing and English. Thus equipped she came to these islands. Shortly after arriving she met and married her husband of 37 years, Jim. She supported him in his technical studies by doing various office jobs. On graduation he was brain drained to the USA with Sue who caused consternation in the world of Stepford Wives by doing paid work. A fascinating snapshot of corporate domestic American life including the use of credit: buy now; don't pay later. Jim was made redundant and they moved back to the UK, variously in Hertfordshire and Gloucester, and Sue remained in close contact with them and gives a moving account of her father's death. Her parents objected when she began a Further Education course in Human Resources. Jim, however, supported her in her studies. She went on to do high level Human Resources and sales jobs. Sadly, nothing she did produced the love she so longed for. Only when she met and started to work with Alan, her life coach, did she begin to unpick the bits of the Masks she wore and this work helped her to become her own woman. Her day-by-day account of the mental/physical parting from her husband should make anybody who thinks that the break-up of a childless marriage is just highly inconvenient, think again. The physical pain of moving into a separate room in the marital home bursts through the printed page. With the aid of Alan and many friends she came through the other side of the black hole of life. Sue has had the courage to write about what most of us only think. By removing the Masks she showed to others and, perhaps more importantly, to herself, she now lives a deeply fulfilled and rewarding life. --Reviewed by John Mandry, The Friend
About the Author
Sue Plumtree, FCIPD (Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) was Personnel Manager at ActionAid, one of the leading third world development charities. For 13 years she ran her own training business specialising in business communication skills for managers. As Lecturer at Westminster Business School she lectured young HR professionals. She spent the next eight years working at the Institute of Directors as a Client Development Executive before leaving to follow her calling. She's now coach and mentor to business owners, senior executives and directors as well as to private individuals. She is also a writer and a speaker. Sue also developed and facilitated her Get on With Your Life series of courses and facilitated her Let's Talk About... series of interactive talks in Richmond, Surrey, where she lives. Her first book Across A Crowded Room: How to Find and Keep the Love of Your Life (Hodder Headline) was published in 1995 and was a huge success on TV and radio. However, of greatest importance and relevance, she says, is her willingness to be open to the richness of life's experiences, meeting them often - though by no means always - with grace and integrity, and with an unfailing readiness to learn from them.
Top customer reviews
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Sadly, I fall in to the other camp. I found it self-indulgent and tedious in the extreme. No minutiae is too small or quotidian for inclusion...e.g.page 51 - "Eventually we found our dream house in Welwyn Garden City itself, located in a beautiful cul-de-sac called The Pastures, a conservation area. The price reflected the location, just above our budget....Moving day was 21st November 1981....zzzzzz
In fairness, Sue has been very honest about herself and her journey. I believe that her rationale for sharing this information as a help and inspiration for others is deeply felt and clearly very genuine.
However, I think this book could have been much better than it is. For my taste, there were too many irrelevant details about `what' happened on Sue's journey and not anything like enough information about `how' it happened - which would have been much more useful.
Rhea Duttagupta (Founder - CorporateDNA Consulting)
Whilst reading Sue's experiences I could often relate to many of the behaviours she exhibited as a way of coping and hiding behind the mask.
Having met Sue in person, I can only say how genuinely warm and positive she is as an individual.
Sue's book is a truly inspiring read.