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In 1963, London was on the brink of becoming one of the world's most vibrant cities. Angela Patrick was 19 years old, enjoying her first job working in the City when her life turned upside down. A brief fling with a charismatic charmer left her pregnant, unmarried and facing a stark future. Being under 21, she was still under the governance of her parents, strict Catholics who insisted she have the baby in secret and then put it up for adoption. Shunned by her family and forced to leave her job, Angela was sent to an imposing-looking convent for unmarried mothers in north-east London. Run like a Victorian workhouse, conditions in the convent were decidedly Spartan. Vilified and degraded by the nuns for her 'wickedness', her only comfort came from the other pregnant girls, all knowing they too would have to give up their babies. After a terrifying labour with no pain relief, Angela gave birth to a beautiful son, Paul, with whom she fell instantly in love. At eight weeks he was taken from her and forcibly put up for adoption, leaving Angela bereft and heartbroken. Not a day went by without Angela thinking about him. Then, thirty years later, she received a letter. It was from Paul, and a reunion was arranged. This vital slice of social history is a shocking reminder of how cultural mores have changed around the issue of single motherhood since the early 1960s. It is also an honest, heartfelt memoir that explores the closest of human bonds.
With his big blue eyes and soulful expression, George was the irresistible runt of the litter. But Dave and Christie Nasser's "baby" ended up being almost five feet tall, seven feet long, and 245 pounds. Eager to play, and boisterous to the point of causing chaos, this big Great Dane was scared of water, scared of dogs a fraction of his size and, most of all, scared of being alone. GIANT GEORGE is the charming story of how this precocious puppy won Dave and Christie's hearts and along the way became a doggie superstar. In 2010, George was named by Guinness World Records as the Tallest Dog in the World-ever. He appeared on Oprah, and even has his own global fan club. But to Dave and Christie, this extraordinary animal is still their beloved pet, the one who has made them laugh, made them cry, and continues to make them incredibly happy.
Born the third of eight children into a life of rural squalor in a farming community in the south of England, Faith Scott's infant world is already more challenging than most. Bewildered by the bizarre and cruel behaviour of her mother and terrified by the violent outbursts of her perpetually angry father, the only certainty in life is that there is none. So when Granddad 'Pop' gives her sweets and does the horrid things he does to her, how is she to know that isn't what all Granddads do? And if it isn't, why does her mother find it funny? Told with honesty and courage, this is the story of a little girl who never stood a chance - who was regularly abused in the most shocking ways by her family and preyed upon by the worst kind of men. Faith went on to have two children in her teens and endured appalling domestic violence but now, after all the suffering, she has turned her life around. Her decades-long journey out of the darkness tells the truth about what happens to abused children when they grow up, in a story that's horrifying and compelling in equal measure.
Angie and Ian were childhood sweethearts, Angie adored kids and, as one of eight children himself, Ian was only too happy to have as many as they could. After their marriage they had three sons in quick succession. But then, aged just thirty one, Angie was diagnosed with breast cancer and the couple had to accept they might not be able to have any more. Five years on, though, with Angie well again they went on to have five more. But in 2007, Angie had a shadow on her lung and it was the return of the original breast cancer she thought she had beaten. It seemed the disease had returned to tear their world apart again. Though Ian searched tirelessly for cures, Angie practised acceptance. She wouldn't live to see her children grow up. Raising eight children would be a big job for any couple; to raise them alone, without their mother, an almost Herculean feat. But this was exactly what Angie wanted Ian to be able to do. So in the last months of her life, Angie compiled a list of 'rules' to guide Ian in the future, and put him on an intensive training course, so he could learn all the skills he would need. She taught him how to make her special chicken curry, how to soothe away their hurts, pack their lunchboxes with all their favourites and do all the little things she'd done for them so unthinkingly. And Ian knew he wasn't just doing this for the children. He was doing it so his beloved wife could be comforted by knowing that he had the tools to bring their children up her way. Finally, inevitably, came the hardest task of all. Angie, the job done, had to find the courage to let them go, and Ian and the children the courage to carry on without her.
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