Francis, Not the Saint - Floriana Hall
Paperback - 304 Pages
Published by BookSurge, 2008
Sent to me by Casey at The Bookish Type
Francis, Not the Saint is a true story of a family's triumph over adversity during The Great Depression and World War II. It is an important part of history. It is also a mesmerizing story of a wonderful mother who taught her three children morals and manners and who was sometimes thought of as a saint, and a father who was anything but a saint, though his religious background gnawed at his very soul. It is a story of a man who tried to juggle three families at the same time and found out that it cannot be done. A man who lied and cheated and made his children victims of his lies. It is a spiritual story of a daughter's forgiveness of the lies he told, which is a criteria for complete and peaceful existence. Bust most of all, it is a story to help warn young women to beware of egotistical men who flatter too much, flirt too much, cry too much, and who lust for many.
This book was sent to me by a wonderful fellow blogger, Casey at The Bookish Type (go check her out!). I was pretty wary about it when I started because I'm not the hugest fan of historical fiction, but I do love a good memoir!
I was hooked from the first page! Hall starts off the book with a poem that I just fell in love with:
OUR MOTHER WAS THE FINEST
Our mother was the glue that held our family together,
Her love went beyond any disaster we could weather,
She was there for us when anything went awry,
We'd laugh with her, and sometimes we'd cry,
For life is full of twists and turns ---
Illness, failure, abandonment, then money to earn.
She boosted us up when troubles befell us,
And listened patiently to opinions from all of us.
When food was scarce, she gave us her portion --
To have a mother so loving was such good fortune.
She encouraged us to be the best we could be,
She was our inspiration, the head of our family.
Now that she's gone, we still follow her teachings,
The lessons she taught us will keep us reaching
For higher plateaus, unselfishness, and kindness
To imitate our mother, to be the finest.
No joke, at this point I was already in tears. I knew this was going to be a heartwarming story, and it made me miss my mom, and just remember how important she is to me.
I really enjoyed the pace that the book was set at -- a complete page turner. I truly loved following in the lives of Floriana and her family, and felt as though I was there with them going through the same hardships. It was hard to get used to Francis and hard to accept the things that he did. Money was tight enough for one family during The Great Depression, but he was secretly leading three separate lives with three different families. Floriana describes days and weeks where all her family had to eat was bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She described the other kids standing in the milk line at school and having to pass up the opportunity for milk because her family could not afford it.
Hall definitely got the point across that Francis was certainly no saint! I hated him from page one! She included some letters that he wrote to her during the last decade or so of his life, and I just wanted to rip those pages out. They added to the story of course, but just angered me. Francis thought that he had found Jesus and was going to be absolved of all of his sins, however during this time he was still pursuing a lady. This was one of the very things he constantly wrote about, blaming the devil for his sexual appetite. I think that it was pretty obvious that Francis didn't care who he hurt on the way to getting what he want, but as soon as he knew he wanted it -- he was going to get it.
I loved hearing all about Floriana and her family. She had five babies, and it was such fun to hear about all her grandchildren! I think one of my other favorite things about this book was seeing how different things were back then. I take for granted so many things, and this really put it into perspective for me. Thankfully, never in my lifetime have I had to struggle for food, housing or clothing. To see that Hall had to deal with these things, and turned out such a wonderful person is so inspiring.
This book came during a perfect time in my life. Not to get deep or anything, but I've been realizing that there are a lot of life lessons that I need to get used to and understand. It seemed like every page I turned had a quote in there that just related to my life/day perfectly. Hall has a true gift for words (including all of the great poetry she added in there)!
Honestly, I would highly recommend this book to anyone! It is just a fantastic, heartwarming, inspiring book. I think that we could all learn a lesson or two from this book!
5 out of 5 Stars