An autobiography is a history of a person’s life written or told by that person. What kind of autobiography would you write about your life? Would it be serious, telling of all the great things you have accomplished? Would it be sad, telling of all the losses you had suffered and all the hard times you have gone through? Or would it be filled with humor? Maybe it would include all of these things.
This curious autobiography was written by Elaine Jakes—some of it while she was alive and some of it after she was dead. Her son is the one who finalized, edited, and published it. At times, it is hilarious. Other times, it is serious. But it is quite an enjoyable read. I am so glad that her son chose to publish her words and share with us about her life.
There are so many parts of this book that I would love to share with you, so many events in Elaine’s life that made me laugh. The story of how her dad takes her up on Bear Mountain for a driving lesson is one of my favorite parts. His lesson backfires and a bear ends up being the one to teach her how to drive.
I’m sure many of us have a lot in common with Elaine; I know I do. Throughout her life, she competes with others, especially her sister. In order to come out ahead, she messes up and does things that she is ashamed of later on. Words that she never meant to say come out of her mouth. And she was the same during her time in college. The shenanigans she does to increase her popularity backfire and almost get her killed. They are also the reason she was kicked out of college twice.
I also share the love of animals that Elaine had. I have owned many animals throughout my married life—right now I have four dogs and eight cats—but none of my experiences compare to the experiences Elaine had with the cat and the monkey. This is also one of my favorite parts of the book. It was hilarious and convinced me to never even think about having a monkey for a pet.
Then there was the cat she sat in a high chair and fed baby food to with a spoon. Although I have always had cats, and even though I accidentally taught one to drink through a straw, I have never fed one anything with a spoon.
No matter what was going on in Elaine’s life, she ran from God until late in life and refused to believe that He cared about her. And yes, there have been plenty of times in my life when I have run from God. As I read this book, I learned how she came to appreciate her rich Welsh heritage, how she discovered who God really is, and how He drew her back to him. This is a book definitely worth reading.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you would like to read about the curious life of Elaine Jakes, I have provided an Amazon link for you below.
Amazon Link: The Curious Autobiography of Elaine Jakes
Bears interrupted during snacking are wont to be grumpy, and a grumpy bear is not an animal that one should wish to encounter, for the outcome may be quite disconcerting.
We aimed to completely pulverize and to utterly annihilate said evil, even if that meant employing legalese at inopportune moments or splitting an infinitive or two for the cause.
But this was nothing that a child who had had a monkey for a sister or who was raised as a Chinese Jew but had been baptized as a Welsh Presbyterian could not deal with.
He looked like a combination of Rip Van Winkle and Zorro, a handicapped version of the latter, blinded and deafened by his own choice.
New Words Learned:
autonomy – independence or freedom
cameral – pertaining to the chamber (dorm room)
concomitant – accompanying
diaconal – of or relating to a deacon
escutcheon – reputation
esplanade – any open, level space, especially one serving for public walks or drives
excursus – a digression or incidental excursion, as in a narrative
farraginous – heterogeneous; mixed:
foment – to instigate or foster
francophonic – speaking French
georgic – agricultural
germane – suited
inculcate – to implant by repeated statement or admonition
manse – the house and land occupied by a minister or parson
mendacity – tendency to lie
midrashic – pertaining to a homily on a scriptural passage derived by traditional Jewish exegetical methods and consisting usually of embellishment of the scriptural narrative
muleskinner– a mule-driver
mutatis mutandis – the necessary changes having been made
panegyric – a lofty oration or writing in praise of a person or thing
panoply – display
pedantic – ostentatious in one’s learning
peripatetic – walking or traveling about
putsch – a plotted revolt or attempt to overthrow a government, especially one that depends upon suddenness and speed.
scuttlebutt – rumor or gossip
semitophilic – having a strong interest in the Jewish people and culture
sinophilic – having a strong interest in the Chinese culture and its people
spurious – not genuine, authentic, or true; not from the claimed, pretended, or proper source; counterfeit
titular – existing or being such in title only; nominal; having the title but none of the associated duties, powers, etc.
ubiquity – the state or capacity of being everywhere, especially at the same time;
ushanka cap – a Russian fur cap with ear flaps that can be tied up to the crown of the cap, or fastened at the chin to protect the ears, jaw and lower chin from the cold. The dense fur also offers some protection against blunt impacts to the head.
vis-à-vis – face to face
About the Authors:
Elaine Jakes was a schoolteacher in suburban Philadelphia. Living in the vivacious and eccentric community of New Hope, Pa, in the 1970s and 1980s, she very much reflected that town’s character. Yet another place, Wales, the land of her forefathers, ever kept a spiritual hold on her, beckoning her homeward through the most unexpected of mechanisms (e.g. scents, strolls along a canal, animals, family and friends) until she discovers who she really is and the redemptive power of the cross.
Her son, H.R. Jakes, a writer who lives in Texas, compiled her story. He has been writing all his life, and she thus felt confident to entrust him with that task. Through him, further books in this series will be forthcoming, first among them Curious Recipes: the Mostly Welsh Cookbook of Elaine Jakes, a charming (and tasty) combination of Elaine’s tales with detailed recipes, featuring as an aspect of every vignette the story behind each culinary delight. H. R. Jakes is married to Diana, whom he met in Italy in 1979. They have 7 children and one grandchild, in whose eyes it is evident to one and all that Elaine’s legacy lives on.