A True Story of Wealth, Extraordinary Success and Great Tragedy

Non-Fiction - Biography
346 Pages
Reviewed on 07/30/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jose Cornelio for Readers' Favorite

In 1946: A True Story of Wealth, Extraordinary Success and Great Tragedy, Diana Gillmor documents the fruits of long research into the lives of her grandparents, a story with surprising discoveries, both for the reader and the author. This is a biography that explores the lives of Reginald and Edwina and it is interesting to follow their journey and backgrounds before and after their marriage. Edwina was a well-educated woman whose personality was forged through living in different cities. Reginald was the son of a Civil War veteran. He grew up in a large family comprising eight children, and at sixteen, he entered the United States Naval Academy. His life changed when he met an inventor. He eventually became one of the first three people to work for a start-up belonging to the inventor whose work changed navigation in many ways.

Diana Gillmor’s 1946 is a story of a couple, their incredible success, and the tragedy they lived through. It is a story that will drive home to readers the truth that some of the key players in the changes that happen in history remain obscure and unsung. There are powerful themes that are ingeniously written in this book, including love and marriage, creating wealth, scientific inventions, politics, and war. The historical setting is brilliantly articulated and the author allows the effects of the war to come out clearly in the characterization. This is a story with characters that readers will enjoy and the evocation of what life felt and looked like in the first half of the 20th century. Diana Gillmor’s book is not just a biography but an engaging story that is filled with history and culture.

K.C. Finn

Penned by author Diana Gillmor, 1946: A True Story of Wealth, Extraordinary Success and Great Tragedy is a work of non-fiction in the slice of life and biographical sub-genres. Written in a narrative style that brings these true to life characters into full living color before us, this is a time-spanning tale of the author’s grandparents, and the incredible lives they led before and after meeting one another. For Edwina, New York society meant glittering lights and glamour, whilst young Reg came from a small town and built success on his own back. So when war comes to the couple, they are prepared to grow tough and battle against the hardships that await.

Author Diana Gillmor has crafted a beautiful story that is lovingly told. The prose work sits somewhere between biography and fiction, giving us plenty of anecdotal moments and backstory that help to fill in the details of the current scene of action. Biography fans who are curious about life pre and post the World Wars in the United States of America will certainly have their fill of accurately described real-life difficulties, the incredible and expedient advances made in technology during wartime, and the strong bond between two people who were determined to survive and thrive through it all. Overall, I would certainly recommend 1946: A True Story of Wealth, Extraordinary Success and Great Tragedy to readers seeking immersive non-fiction that is written with true heart and a real eye for historical details.

Vincent Dublado

The result of a desire to know more of her family’s past and dedication to research, Diana Gillmor’s 1946: A True Story of Wealth, Extraordinary Success, and Great Tragedy is a biographical homage to her magnate grandparents and the colorful realities they experienced in the early years of the 20th century. Writing with an intense devotion to family, Ms. Gillmor has chronicled an inspiring and extraordinary story about her grandparents that deserves a look back for the future generations not only of her family but for the world to see and serve as a reference on the resilience of the human spirit. The book unrolls a red carpet welcome to readers as they are introduced to Edwina Spear and Reginald Everett Gillmor—how they met and got married and faced joys and adversities together amidst the march of time. Their love story and chemistry are the stuff that romance fiction is made of. Edwina had a patrician upbringing while Reginald came from a military background.

Diana Gillmor’s 1946 is a testament that the fusion of romance and history in a biography is very much alive. This work is likely to provoke admiration and envy in equal measure among those who care to look back at the past. Students of literature may well find value in classifying this work as romantic biography, and the consumer of historical readings may well consider this book as a historical work in the biographical tradition. Whatever feelings and ideas this book might elicit, it sets the bar for the sub-genre that is the historical romantic biography.

Jamie Michele

Diana Gillmor's 1946: A True Story of Wealth, Extraordinary Success and Great Tragedy is the non-fiction biography of the author's grandparents, Reginald and Edwina Gillmor. Spread out over five iterations that are broken down by individual books, Gillmor narrates a thoroughly documented history by year. This is done in the first person in the past tense by Gillmor's grandmother Edwina, who recounts her life in a format that feels reminiscent of a woman sitting in a rocking chair, speaking to grandchildren who listen from their position on the floor. Interspersed between stretches of the storyline, Gillmor includes photographs from the family collection that lend weight and provide interesting visuals of not only the people who have footprints on the path traversed, but also of the time, events, and evolution of the generation.

Diana Gillmor has clearly put a great deal of effort and research into 1946, named for the final chapter of the book. By her own testimony, she begins with scant details of the journey she embarks on, so the detail that is compiled between the covers of this book is profound. There is no lack of substance even if the writing style is a bit overly simplified for the first-person point of view Gillmor undertakes. The overwhelming majority of the text is recounted in dense and lengthy paragraphs with little by way of dialogue, although given that this is non-fiction the inclusion of such would likely take the book dangerously close to fictional territory. The most fascinating part for me was Edwina, having recently lost her mother, taking on the household responsibilities in the shadow of WWII. I was also tickled by pop culture references of the time and definitely learned a lot along the way. I imagine that 1946 will have great significance to the Gillmor family generations after we ourselves are long gone and that those who enjoy an immersion into history will enjoy this as much as I have.

Ruffina Oserio

Diana Gillmor's 1946: A True Story of Wealth, Extraordinary Success and Great Tragedy is a compelling story that documents the journey of the author’s grandparents, people she barely knew: Reginald Everett Gillmor and Edwina Spear. While Edwina received an exceptional education at a convent and grew her culture by living in many foreign cities, her husband was the son of a Civil War veteran and a graduate of the Navy Academy; he worked in the United States Navy where he made the acquaintance of an inventor. What is fascinating about Reginald is the fact that he became the second of three employees in a company that belonged to the inventor. This company pioneered the invention of navigation systems that eventually changed navigation during wartime, and influenced how airplanes, ships, and submarines were operated.

Diana Gillmor's 1946 is a nonfiction, biographical narrative that explores the role a couple played in a crucial historical moment. The narrative is rich with history and newspaper references that substantiate the facts in the story. I enjoyed the references to the war, which add to the realism of the story. The story of Edwina and Reginald is a compelling one and the author does a wonderful job in presenting the culture of the era. The characters are well-developed and there is no doubt that a lot of research went into this true story. Diana Gillmor writes well and fills the writing with historical and cultural facts. For instance, references to how women were treated during this time are very strong. They weren’t allowed to vote until forty years after the Nineteenth Amendment was passed. This book is the story of the success of two characters and the suffering they endured. It is balanced, entertaining, and reminiscent of a period that shaped the history of humanity.