Book Reviews

When Because You Are a Woman was unleashed on an unsuspecting public in 2010, it tackled a tricky subject in a fresh and unique fashion.

Though the subject can be chilling and even horrific in detail, Jacki’s book gave the reader an opportunity to understand the complex issues of childhood abuse in a way which had not been approached before.

As a result, Because You Are a Woman has received numerous praiseworthy reviews:

“I have just read you book Because you are a Woman and I just wanted to let you know that I thought it was a brilliant book. I couldn't put it down. You were so honest with your story. I have read many autobiographies of survivors and have gained knowledge from them all (which greatly helps in my work as a counsellor) but I feel that yours had such depth and insights. I thought that the writing was beautiful, both your prose and poetry. It really was a delight to read, even though it was a harrowing story.

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and in such an inspiring way. I wish you well in the work that you do for Women for Change and in all that you do in the future.”

Mary Sutton of KAM Associates Ltd, a therapeutic counselling, supervision and training organisation, said:

“I have been gripped by it, moved, saddened, infuriated, and ultimately hugely encouraged.
“The poetry that intersperses it is a particular gift, a route to the deep feelings attached to the events and people that you have experienced through your life. Thank you so much for daring to do this and for persisting with it until it was published. I'll be recommending it to our students.”

Jacky Cook, editor of Warwickshire Living, was similarly impressed.

“A brilliant read, I couldn't put it down. A truly inspirational and strong lady who is using her own experiences to help others.”

Felix Dennis, renowned British poet and entrepreneur, also took time from his busy schedule to commend Jacki on the book. He wrote:

“Thank you so much for your book Because You Are a Woman. I haven’t read it properly yet, but I have already thoroughly enjoyed several of the poems in it. Many congratulations on Because You’re a Woman and I hope it meets with a great deal of success. It certainly deserves to.”

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Because You're A Woman receives a fantastic Book Review from Accord, the Christian Councellor's Magazine.

Read the review here >

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Because Youre A Woman

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Chapter 1

Married in April 1947, my parents had only one short month together before my father was sent to the Middle East with the Royal Signals Army Corp. Perhaps I was conceived the night before he left as an unwilling conscriptee, boarding ship for a faraway destination, an insecure young man, newly wed and wanting only to cement his marriage and new role as husband.

It must have been a shock for my father reading the handwritten letter, as he sat in his desert tent in Egypt, learning of the impending arrival of a baby. How welcome months later, was the news of the arrival of his daughter? An intruder into that new and fragile relationship, now metamorphosised into something totally different to the one he had been forced to leave. How did he feel all those long months away? His own mother had died giving birth to him. Was he afraid that he would lose his young wife? Was he already jealous of me, able to enjoy the warmth and intimacy that he was being denied, curled deep within her in the warmth and safety of her womb, and then held in her arms, cuddled and caressed and much loved? Demanding her every attention whilst he was so far away, out of control, out of touch and unable to make his needs and wishes known.

My mother stayed with her parents, comfortably at home in a leafy avenue of terraced houses in Gillingham, Kent, and it was in a maternity nursing home only two streets away that I was born the following February in one of the harshest winters on record. Twenty foot snowdrifts were recorded, and ice bound ships were unable to deliver coal and food to the country. My mother, Marion was just 22. Letters flew back and forth between England and Egypt, until finally two crossed, both with the name "Jacqueline".

I am told that my grandfather adored me; that he could not bear to hear me cry, and that he spoiled me. Why not? I was his first grandchild. His own childhood had been passed in a Children's Cottage Home, because his mother, a single parent in the early 1900s, had been forced to hand him into care. His children had been born during the tough long years of the depression before the war, a time of tremendous financial struggle. He had, of necessity, travelled long distances to get work and worked long hours, taking any job he could to keep his young family fed and clothed. There was no dole or social security payments, no family income support system. If you had no job, you had no money. So it was understandable that he would want to give his first grandchild all the love, fussing and protection that he had never received, nor had the time and energy to give to his own children.

My mother's younger brother, Edward, was still living at home when I was born. He was sixteen and training to be a printer. He has told me that he would often lift me from my cot early in the morning, and take me downstairs to the scullery to make the morning tea, sharing a biscuit with me whilst waiting for the kettle to sing on the gas stove.

It is such a pity that I cannot recall those early months of life in my grandparents' house. They would be very precious memories of a time when I knew I was loved without condition. I have a photograph of myself aged about seven months, sitting in the garden on a pink blanket, dressed in a white knitted cardigan, probably made by my grandmother. For most of her life, until arthritis set in, she would have some knitting in a bag beside her armchair. My hair is blonde, framing a face that I cannot recognize as my own. Are they my eyes? Is that my mouth? Are those tiny chubby hands really mine? In the photograph I am looking up at someone, smiling in anticipation. I don't know why, but somewhere deep inside I believe it must have been my grandfather. On the back of the photograph it says 'Fluffy - Summer 1948'.

I must have been very contented living in the house that was later to become my only refuge in a very lonely world.

To me it will always be a wonderful house, full of vivid memories of childhood games of make believe and dressing up, of delicious smells of baked cakes and apple pie, of big soft feather beds, warmed with hot water bottles on a winter's night. A pervading smell of Palmolive soap filled the house, except in my grandmother's bedroom, where the air held the lingering perfume of her Ponds cold cream; all she ever used on her face, which was soft and clear until the day she died.

The senses' recollections are strong, and tears still fill my eyes when those fondest and dearest memories are woken from their slumber by these passing perfumes. In the fireplace, on the hearth in the kitchen, sat two brass Buddhas. They now sit next to the wood-burning stove in the little room at home where I work; two treasured, physical reminders of that almost magical house, providing a tangible link with the few cherished memories of the happier times in my childhood.

Because You're A Woman is published by Austin & Macauley in paperback and is available from: