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5 of 5
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list price: $32.95
edition:Hardcover
published: Sep 2018
ISBN:9781771622028
publisher: Douglas & McIntyre

The Cowkeeper's Wish

A Genealogical Journey

by Tracy Kasaboski & Kristen den Hartog

reviews: 1
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historical, personal memoirs, great britain
5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $32.95
edition:Hardcover
published: Sep 2018
ISBN:9781771622028
publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
Description

In the 1840s, a young cowkeeper and his wife arrive in London, England, having walked from coastal Wales with their cattle. They hope to escape poverty, but instead they plunge deeper into it, and the family, ensconced in one of London’s “black holes,” remains mired there for generations. The Cowkeeper’s Wish follows the couple’s descendants in and out of slum housing, bleak workhouses and insane asylums, through tragic deaths, marital strife and war. Nearly a hundred years later, their great-granddaughter finds herself in an altogether different London, in southern Ontario.

In The Cowkeeper’s Wish, Kristen den Hartog and Tracy Kasaboski trace their ancestors’ path to Canada, using a single family’s saga to give meaningful context to a fascinating period in history—Victorian and then Edwardian England, the First World War and the Depression. Beginning with little more than enthusiasm, a collection of yellowed photographs and a family tree, the sisters scoured archives and old newspapers, tracked down streets, pubs and factories that no longer exist, and searched out secrets buried in crumbling ledgers, building on the fragments that remained of family tales.

While this family story is distinct, it is also typical, and so all the more worth telling. As a working-class chronicle stitched into history, The Cowkeeper’s Wish offers a vibrant, absorbing look at the past that will captivate genealogy enthusiasts and readers of history alike.

About the Authors

Tracy Kasaboski

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Kristen den Hartog is the author of the novels Water Wings, The Perpetual Ending, and Origin of Haloes. Her most recent book, The Occupied Garden: A Family Memoir of War-torn Holland, was written with her sister, Tracy Kasaboski, and explores the life of their father's family during the Second World War. Kristen lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

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Editorial Reviews

The Cowkeeper’s Wish is the story of a family but it is so much more. It is also the history of the times they lived through, a complex revelation of politics, music, food, fashion, and profound social changes. The lives of women are especially vividly described, their tastes, their pursuits (both at work and at home) and their struggles. With lively prose and keen eyes for details, the authors take us to cramped slums where women raised families and did piecework, to the workhouses and asylums where some of them languished, through war factory work, across the Atlantic on steamships, and finally to a more open society where the cowkeeper’s great-granddaughters could dare to dream of better lives.”

— Alison Watt, author of Dazzle Patterns

The Cowkeeper’s Wish is like a camera panning across decades of change, the rise and fall of families and the way fate and fortune conspire to create the present and the future . . . these fascinating family stories inspire us to ponder the many upstream tributaries that have transformed the rivers of our own lives.”

— Stephen R. Bown, author of Island of the Blue Foxes

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Reader Reviews

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The Past Brought to Life

I have waited so long to hear again from these very talented sister authors. At last the waiting has been rewarded by this wonderful story of a family mired in the poverty of a hundred years ago in London, England. The determination, hope and love that kept them going through years spent trying to elevate themselves from poverty and sickness, through workhouses, asylums, and wars is paralleled with the happenings in the world during the time the story takes place in Victorian and Edwardian England and how these world events would have affected them.
The authors' grandmother was the recipient of the reward of her forebears' hard work to make their lives better because she was surrounded by love and after many years of tragedy found a satisfying life in Canada.

The amount of information the sisters have uncovered through their years of research is quite incredible. I did not find any parts of this book slow or boring. Every page was well written so that each person came to life. There are two family trees included which is very helpful. The original photographs at the beginning of each chapter shows the reader poignantly what is to come.

This is a story that must represent so many immigrant families who left their countries of origin to come to Canada for a better life and so, will be enjoyed by everyone.

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The Occupied Garden

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Other Titles by Kristen den Hartog

The Occupied Garden

The Occupied Garden

Recovering the Story of a Family in the Wartorn Netherlands
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
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