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4.5 years Paperback – 21 Mar 2011
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
David Taylor was mentioned a couple of times in Jean Gill's book "Faithful Through Hard Times" (about his brother George) which I reread recently and it was fun to reread 4.5 and put them both in context. In Gill's book David had disappeared. In 4.5 he is the main character.
As I have Scottish blood and love to do Scottish country dancing I was hooked from the first sentence: " In our house there was a photo of Dad in his Black Watch uniform, complete with kilt and sporran."
The book has a telegraphic feel to it as well: "Went to France, Le Havre, very cold winter, no water, pipes frozen". This style appeals to me as I am sometimes impatient with too many literary frills. It made what transpired seem that much more immediate too.
The absurd random train of events of wartime and life in general comes across very clearly in the book. "Away to our left we could see German soldiers in their underwear doing early morning calisthenics. The farmer shook our hands, wished us luck and advised that we wait there till it got dark, then cross the river." David Taylor played the accordion and music proved to be a universal language that was always welcome in any gathering during the 4.5 years.
The snippets of Taylor's French reappear throughout the book in funny and not so funny situations. "When the doctor examined my face during the treatment he said it was 'petit' something. Later that day the penny dropped, im-petit-go not spelled like that but pronounced in French like that."
"It was also my introduction to scorpions, praying mantis and other crawling things, and experiencing the Mistral, which was like an air raid when it came up, whistles blowing, guards running all over and everybody locked in their rooms." As I live in an area of France blessed by the Mistral, I especially enjoyed this quip.
The tongue-in-cheek review of black market activities is delightful. "I could bring a loaf of army bread in, tied to a piece of string and hanging down my back at about waist level under my greatcoat, which we were wearing in the winter. When the guard came to me to check, I opened my greatcoat and with both hands swept it behind my back, enclosing the loaf while he searched my pockets and inside my blouse, down my legs then on to the next guy."
I felt I'd passed a delightful evening with David Taylor when I finished his book.