Wednesday 16 May 2018

Stranger In My Heart by Mary Monro @monro_m276 #BlogTour @unbounders #MyLifeInBooks #StrangerInMyHeart

John Monro MC never mentioned his Second World War experiences, leaving his daughter Mary with unresolved mysteries when he died in 1981. He fought at the Battle of Hong Kong, made a daring escape across Japanese-occupied China and became Assistant Military Attaché in Chongqing. Caught up in Far East war strategy, he proposed a bold plan to liberate the PoWs he’d left behind before fighting in Burma in 1944. But by the time Mary was born he’d become a Shropshire farmer, revealing nothing of his heroic past. 

Thirty years after his death and prompted by hearing him described as a ‘20th Century great’, Mary began her quest to explore this stranger she’d called ‘Dad’. Stranger In My Heart skilfully weaves poignant memoir with action-packed biography and travels in modern China in a reflective journey that answers the question we all eventually ask ourselves: ‘Who am I?’

Stranger In My Heart by Mary Monro is published by Unbound in June 2018. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books - Mary Monro

West With The Night by Beryl Markham   Beryl Markham was a British-born Kenyan aviator, adventurer, racehorse trainer and author. She was the first woman to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic from east to west. Apart from the adventure aspect of this astonishing memoir, it is heartbreakingly well written and a work of great beauty.

An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan    Brian Keenan’s memoir of his four and a half years of captivity in Beirut. I bought this and then couldn’t bear to read it for several years. When I eventually did I was truly uplifted by his response to his captivity and the poetic beauty of his prose.

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan    This semi-autobiographical novel by a Chinese-American author gave me my first introduction to China in the second world war and the attitudes of the American people to the Chinese. It is written from a female perspective and is thoughtful and thought provoking.

Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton   Written at the beginning of the apartheid era, this is a classic portrayal of the effect of racial prejudice on people of all colours. I read it when I was a teenager and it contributed to my developing sense of justice, fairness and freedom.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams    This is my ‘go to’ series if I need a pick me up or just a really good laugh. So inventive, so clever, so funny. I don’t know how many times I’ve read them all but they survive on my shelf when most books get turfed out to make space for the new ones.

The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan    This book is a life changing, well written, deeply researched history of the world, with Persia at the centre. It has entirely uprooted my understanding of world history, from the deep past to the present. If you read one book the rest of your life, read this one.

The Bell by Iris Murdoch   Every now and then I like to read an Iris Murdoch. They are like a rich meal, full of delights, a huge vocabulary and interesting philosophy. I can’t read them too often or I get indigestion, but this is my favourite. Playing a game of tennis with someone much better than you is supposed to improve your game and I hope this is true of writing too!

Why Can’t I Meditate by Nigel Wellings   This is a fantastic resource for mindfulness meditation. Last year I seriously injured my back and it was mindfulness meditation that made the biggest difference to coping with the pain and the damage to my self-image (I’m a fit, healthy person, youthful and vigorous, invincible…). This book coaxes you along, gives great practical advice and picks you up when you fail for the umpteenth time.

The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres     I love LdB’s Latin American trilogy. Such a brilliant mix of the real and the absurd, it was my written introduction to magical realism and connected to my visual liking for it in paintings by Marc Chagall. LdB is the master of the great opening line and I have tried to learn from him.

Where The Indus Is Young by Dervla Murphy   The ultimate intrepid traveller, this is my favourite Dervla Murphy, where she takes her small daughter through the Karakoram mountains in winter. Bonkers. Brave. Beautiful. I also love Eric Newby’s travel writing and Wilfred Thesiger’s. I have a thing for wild places, I guess.

H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald    I read this when I was writing Stranger In My Heart. I loved the three different and superficially unconnected themes and it was a joy to read, even though I have no knowledge of or interest in hawking or TH White. It encouraged me to think that a book with three themes could work and could even win awards.

Life in Motion by Rollin Becker     I’m an osteopath and this book is by an American osteopath and philosopher who has probably contributed more to the way that I work than anyone else. It is in bite-sized chunks, often transcripts from lectures, and it bears several readings and much pondering in between.

Mary Monro - May 2018 

Mary has written numerous technical and academic articles and is an experienced lecturer and presenter, but this is her first book. 
She lives in Bath with her husband, Julian Caldecott, and dog, Gobi. 
She practises as an osteopath in the picturesque Wiltshire town of Bradford on Avon. 
She treats people three days a week (see and treats horses and dogs one day a week ( and 
She is a Trustee of the Sutherland Cranial College of Osteopathy (SCCO) and Member of the Royal Society of Medicine
She was formerly a marketing consultant, with five years experience at what is now Price Waterhouse Coopers, and three years with strategy consultancy, P.Four (now part of WPP). 
She began her marketing career with Cadbury’s confectionery and retains a lifelong love of chocolate.
Mary was born and raised at a farm on the edge of the south Shropshire hills, the youngest of four children. 
She attended Shrewsbury High School from age four to eighteen. 
She spent much of her childhood on horseback, which left her with permanent damage to her right eye, a broken nose, broken knee-cap and broken coccyx. 
She has been bitten, kicked, rolled on, dragged, and has fallen off too many times to recall, but she still rides racehorses for fun.
Twitter: @monro_m276

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