Thursday’s Child: One Woman’s Journey to Seven Continents, by Maralyn Rittenour

Second paragraph of third chapter:

When he married Hilda, she wanted everything for her two sons, and she exerted her all-powerful influence to detach my father from his family and his regimental friends, starting with his only child. She believed, wrongly, that having been on the other side during the war, she would not be accepted by his family. He sent a letter, which I received just as I was leaving for Switzerland and my mother and stepfather for Singapore. He wrote that he never wanted to see me again, that I preferred my mother and was only interested in his money. He had already paid for the year in Switzerland but would not give me another penny. Under English law at the time, it was perfectly legal to abandon a child of sixteen unless he or she was physically or mentally disabled. Everyone, including his family, assumed this was a temporary aberration, being infatuated with his new wife, and he would come to his senses before long. [Spoiler: he didn’t.]

Maralyn is my second cousin, the third oldest (second oldest living) great-grandchild of our Whyte great-grandparents, born in 1938. I only remember meeting her once, but I’ll certainly get back in touch after having read this very entertaining memoir. My parents, aunt and grandmother get passing mentions; she writes a lot more about her own family, the MacDermots, and other relatives who we both knew and know.

Having been disinherited after her parents’ divorce at the behest of her stepmother, Maralyn worked at a variety of jobs, starting with nannying for her uncle who was the British Ambassador in Indonesia, culminating in a series of semi-diplomatic roles in New York and then retirement in the Hamptons. She has been married twice; her first husband died dramatically in a canoeing accident, her second much later in life of natural causes.

She has clearly kept a diary, or at least good records, of everything that has happened to he since she was a teenager. The theme of the book is supposedly her travel to various parts of the world, including Antarctica, and indeed she has a sharp eye for detail, especially nature and landscapes and the things that happen to you on a long sea voyage, but the heart of the book is really her own friendships and family relationships.

Obviously I got this out of personal interest, but I think it would be an entertaining read even if you are not related to the author. You can get it here.

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