Molly's Reviews

What I Know Now: Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Sarah Ferguson The Duchess of York
Simon and Shuster

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Enjoyable read … Recommended … 4 stars

The work offered by Sara Ferguson is a series of sketches discussing a wide variety of subjects. ‘Forgiving the Past,’ ‘Laughing Out Loud’ and ‘Finding Empathy’ are but three of the short offerings. One vignette I particularly enjoyed is entitled ‘Keeping Rituals’ in which the writer chats about structure of routine and how important it is for children. Sarah Ferguson tells of her own favorite ritual carried out with her Mother as well as describing rituals she maintains with her own daughters.

Other vignette titles include ‘Escaping Routine,’ ‘Spending Wisely,’ ‘Dressing to Thrill,’ and ‘Breathing Deep.’ For a woman who has had a history marred with spending not so wisely and dressing to cause columnists much glee; the vignettes were refreshing and self-reflective.

‘Living Small’ is a tribute to the adult woman in charge of her own life that Sarah Ferguson has become. From a girl who was unsure of herself, allowed others to dictate her emotions and reality Ms Ferguson has become a mature woman who is aware of both her strengths and her weaknesses and is well able to face each with equal aplomb

Filled with generously constructed accounts, snappy, plain spoken colloquy and a sensibly interwoven theme of a woman who has come to grips with life and herself; What I Know Now Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way is a pleasantly written, refreshing group of anecdotes gleaned by Sarah Ferguson from her own life. Her childhood and teen years, marriage to Prince Andrew, friendship with Princess Diana, mistakes made along the way, lapses in decorum are all set down with straight forward poignancy as well as a particle of self needling now and then and not a bit of ‘expert’ explanation to muddy our thinking. Author Ferguson cleverly composes a set of easily read episodes which grabs reader interest from the first lines and holds interest fast right to the last paragraphs. As Sarah Ferguson came to realize that life cannot always run exactly as we might wish; she matured and became a notable figure well able to face life squarely while standing on her own. From being focused as a pariah in the newspapers and from being thought to be a mindless, overweight spendthrift has emerged an likeable woman for whom dissolution, metamorphosis, anticipation and aspiration all have played a part in shaping what her life was, is and will be.

Engaging work written in plain and simple prose appropriate for the upper middle grades to high school library, the home personal bookroom and home school library. I particularly enjoyed reading “What I Know Now: Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way” and getting a feel for this interesting, pleasant woman who today fills her days with her daughters, good works and a large dollop of good common sense. Sarah Ferguson has matured from a girl so anxious to please and willing to let others dictate what her life ‘should be’ that neither she nor others were pleased into a charming, interesting woman worthy of emulation. Girls and women especially will delight in the publication.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend




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© 2005 by Molly Martin