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In my childhood, brought up as a girl, I had a white West Highland terrier. My romps with the pup should have indicated my true sexual nature, as did my interest in the tool shed and car. My father understood but mother just thought me a tomboy who would outgrow it. She never knew of my later change, dying of cancer a year before.
My London school was evacuated in wartime, when women took over men’s work and joined the forces. During those years sexual differences were of little consequence. After the war, however, when roles returned to normal, my life became increasingly unbearable.
In the late 1950s, Joan, then my only friend and love, saved me from suicide and helped me through private gender reassignment surgery. To avoid the British paparazzi, we emigrated to New Zealand and married. In Auckland, I was lecturer in chemistry at the University. Later I moved to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) to start a Tribology Section, working on the science of friction, lubrication and wear.
In 1973 we moved to Wellington where I continued my research at DSIR’s Physics and Engineering Division. When Joan developed heart trouble I retired at 55 years old, in 1982, to have some years together ( Joan being older than I) before the unthinkable happened.
We bought a 10 acre bush section in Coromandel, our favourite holiday location. The land rose steeply to a hill top, the harbour clearly visible from our cottage, located next door to Barry Brickell’s famous pottery and tourist railway. Sadly, in 1989, Joan died of a stroke.
After several years alone, I joined a singles club and eventually, after many introductions, met Zella who gave me my second chance. We married in January 1995 and moved to a 5 bed-roomed house on half an acre, sited on a peninsula between the sea and Coromandel harbour, where we ran a Bed and Breakfast business for the next five years. In the year 2000, we sold the B and B and built a house overlooking the Firth, in Thames.
Here I joined the local Writers Group, published my autobiography ‘A Change for Good’ in 2006, and wrote the sequel ‘Second Chance,’ now published here as an E-book.
on Nov. 15, 2010 :
A Second Chance
It was interesting to read the life history of such a mature aged and well educated FtM. John Thorp has had some amazing experiences as well as being the trail blazer that he is in the transgender world. He has successfully gained acceptance by his peers in the academic world sufficiently to have them stand by him in his early days in New Zealand when it seemed all the world was chasing him down to destroy him.
To conquer illnesses that both he and his partner/s have endured is testament to his belief in Christianity and God in himself and his partner/s. To see him stand alone after the loss of a loved one then to strive for further love in his life, to find that and have a long term relationship that has outlasted many of those in the ‘normal’ world, these are the things that make this book a good read.
And yet there were times it felt as though one was reading a jumbled travelogue, there were too many moments of reiteration. The overall concept of the author describing his life and loves, travels and experiences was one that didn’t get me ‘in’ as well as I’d hoped.
In Chapter 21 half way down page the page (91) there is a sudden philosophical departure. This gave rise to some confusion and an almost ‘feeling of reading another book entirely’ and then, almost at the end of the chapter one is returned to the initial discussion of loves, life’s experiences and acceptance by oneself and others.
Overall there was too much information crammed into too few pages and that was the gist of the dilemma there…too few pages. Had the book been longer allowing the writer to better describe each poignant moment in more detail then I feel there would have been a more finished perspective of his writing skills and his life in general.
In the end, if the product met the intentional outcome, it was well met and in my view was nonetheless well worth the read.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)