cover image Almost a Great Escape: A Found Story

Almost a Great Escape: A Found Story

Tyler Trafford. Goose Lane Editions, $19.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-86492-686-9

This fascinating true story begins when Trafford inherits a Campbell's Soup box filled with his late mother's letters after her funeral. At the bottom of the box, he finds a secret that may have also been buried deepest in his mother's heart. Letters and photos in the %E2%80%98Jens Album,' tell the story of his mother, Alice Tyler, during World War II when she was a young debutante living in Montreal's Westmount in love with Jens M%C3%BCller, a Norwegian fighter pilot stationed near Toronto. Alice struggles to follow her dreams to attend McGill University and to resist her family's pressure to marry a "suitable" husband while Jens attempts to escape from a German P.O.W. camp. While the book traces that romance, it is also the story of a son rediscovering a mother who left him emotionally long before she died, who sent him to boarding school at 13, so that he wouldn't watch "the slow dying coming for her: alcoholism, breast cancer, polymyalgia, and an unfaithful, bullying husband." Reading her letters, Tyler learns what she endured to hold her family together. As his own reflections intermingle with Alice's letters, the book becomes a moving story of love between a mother who dreamed of being a writer and her son who became one. (Mar.) North American distribution: Univ. of Toronto.