Scenes from the Life of a Lucky Man (by Alan M Bold)

I should state at the start of this review that Alan M Bold is my father, and that I’ve been reading parts of this book for over a year now. It’s the compilation of his memoirs, which I have helped to edit and proofread. In the summer I read through a draft edition; in the past few weeks, before he self-published with CreateSpace, I read it again and corrected a few minor proofing errors. It has become available on Amazon today.

‘Scenes from the Life of a Lucky Man’ is, as the blurb on the back states, a sequence of scenes from the author’s life. Some chapters were originally written for his writing group, so were polished and complete in themselves. Other have been written to fill in gaps, although as he says, there are plenty of events in his life that he didn’t write about. He chose the ones that stood out in his mind, and then added other chapters as necessary to make a (mostly) chronological account. The chapters are of widely varying lengths, and there are sideline chapters here and there which don’t quite fit the general chronology.

Unlike many biographical accounts, this is not a story of deprivation or suffering. It’s a refreshing account that begins with a few brief snapshots from a childhood barely touched by the war years. The son of a country doctor, my father was educated at local schools. In his teens, despite his passion being for chemistry, he was in the ‘classics’ stream. How he moved from Latin and Greek to studying medicine at a top university is explained, demonstrating his capacity for hard work and the ability to focus on his dreams.

Most of the book describes my father’s work life as a doctor specialising in clinical chemistry. He worked in three different British hospitals, and then, in the latter part of his working life, in a couple of Middle Eastern countries. Written from a medical perspective, some of the jargon may go over readers’ heads, but that doesn’t matter, somehow.

He also gives insights into life as an ex-pat, including some struggles with new cultures. He does not hide the stresses of working within systems that are far from perfect, both in the UK and abroad. In addition, the work accounts are interlaced with anecdotes, some of them light-hearted, some poignant; many are related to his passion for music and singing in choirs.

I am, of course, biased in finding this book very readable and interesting, since it relates in part to my own life and memories. But I think it would be of interest to anyone who grew up in wartime and post-war England; it would also probably be interesting to those who have worked in the medical field, and those who have lived abroad or who are interested in doing so.

Review copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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