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Shadows Over the Sun - Book Review

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events.
Published January 20th 2014
Autobiography traces a road to happiness by Giselle J Robin
Shadows Over the Sun - Review
Shadows Over the Sun ISBN 978-0-646-58922-0

In her autobiography, Shadows Over the Sun, Giselle J. Robin has written an open, easy to read collection of memoirs that trace her various life adventures and experiences; growing up as a child in Nazi Germany with parents who fought violently over their beliefs regarding Hitler's surge to power; her successful career as manager of large government projects; her role as a young wife settling in South Australia in 1960's with her husband and establishing the first organic winery at McLaren Flat; being recognized for her involvement in the relief efforts associated with fighting bushfires in NSW; and establishing a Trees for Life program and nursery at Peterborough.

Interwoven through her various life adventures are the difficulties she experienced learning to cope with bipolar mental disorder resulting from her re-occurring episodes of severe depression; her parents resenting her because she wasn't a boy, a bitter divorce, and several heart breaking tragedies. Her struggles for a better understanding of her needs and of the needs of others with bipolar and depression, and her constant striving to improve her ability to manage her disorder is an inspirational story.

The book is written in an honest and direct style with occasional humour that reflects her courage, self-determination and immense resilience to try new experiences and seize different career opportunities offered to her. At times I found her limit of details leaving me wanting to learn more about different experiences she alluded to. When I asked her about this, Giselle said smiling, "People and management in particular, always praised me for my conciseness, and here you are wanting more."

I found the period concerning life in Germany during and after the war particularly interesting with the inclusion of important historical dates and information. She provides the reader an understanding and insight from the viewpoint of a child surviving in war torn Dresden and Hamburg, which is not often depicted in accounts of daily life in Germany.

As a young married couple Giselle and her husband Gabor, successfully established a vineyard and small winery on Blewitt Springs Road, McLaren Flat in the authentic Hungarian style that dates back more than 400 years. This entirely 'natural manner' of winemaking didn't employ techniques or chemicals of flavour, colouring, sulphur, various sprays and cultured yeasts. Only fully ripened grapes were used in production, resulting in high alcohol, rich fruity wine, smooth and gentle to the palate, with all the character of a naturally developed wine. Their wines were so popular they were pre-sold before bottling.

Many sections of the book reveal Giselle's reoccurring traumatic experiences and battles with bipolar mental disorder and depression. She speaks freely of her experiences and having to deal with the stigma and injustice she suffered from family members and people she considered to be her friends. Today, she has been able to learn how to deal with issues that troubled her and has been able to move on with her life. I was moved by her strength, courage, self-confidence and determination to tackle new experiences as she continually immersed herself in various business ventures and self-development courses so as to be self-sufficient.

Her strength and lively vibrant spirit will hold your attention as she perseveres to further develop her knowledge and life skills as she forms new friendships and connects with others through groups such as U3A and Cosmic Connection. Her triumphs will hold readers' attention and will be an inspiration as she tackles and masters her new endeavours.

Shadows Over the Sun is available from Adelaide's Shakespeare's Books & Coffee Shop and Dymocks.

Shadows Over the Sun - Review
Giselle Robin
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Why? An autobiography written in an open and direct style that traces the author's varied career and her courage and determination to overcome her battles with bipolar mental disorder and depression.
Phone: 08 8556 6240
Cost: $12.50 Direct; $16.50 by post.
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