Shadows in My House of Sunshine
by Emilie Betts


Beckham Publications Group, Inc., 2007. ISBN 0-931761-28-X.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 02/05/2008

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons

In Emilie Betts' 85 years of life, she has lived in seven states and twenty nine different dwellings. Her nomadic life began when her family suffered great loss during the 1929 Stock Market Crash which left them homeless. Rather than being bitter about her life, Betts has used those experiences to paint a rich portrait of life for a child, turned woman through much of our nation's history.

Beginning with the period immediately before the Stock Market Crash, Betts' book takes the reader on a journey that continues past the September 11th World Trade Center disaster. Her quest to find "home" and to re-create the life she knew as a child (her house of sunshine) before the financial ruin of her family is the common thread throughout this book.

Readers watch Betts grow from an innocent child to a wise-before-her-time young adult and then a wife, mother and matriarch of her family. The very real impact of first the Stock Market Crash and then World War II are seen through the eyes of a woman. Reflective, confused, forever changed—these are just a few of the words to describe the way in which she approaches the telling of these events. Relationships, family crisis with alcohol, finding one's self, and searching for the true meaning of home are all brought together to take the reader through the sunshine and shadows of this amazingly complex life.

Unfortunately, Betts's book did not receive the professional editing attention that her otherwise remarkable story deserves. There are numerous misplaced punctuation marks, run-on paragraphs, and strangely placed spacing. Worse, there are many words that don't make sense until the reader realizes that the automated spell-checker has produced an incorrect homonym. These editing problems made the otherwise pleasurable reading a chore.

Editors' note: The author has notified us that errors mentioned in this review have been corrected in a second printing of the book.


Emilie Betts has worked as a private secretary, a defense factory worker during WWI and was part of the publicity department of the NY City Housing Bureau. She has been a wife of an advertising executive, a mother to eight children, a soprano soloist, writer and publicity chairman for the New York Area Girl Scout Council. After earning a degree from the New York School of Interior Design, she and three other housewives opened a fabric shop in Chappaqua, New York. Currently, she lives in a 1920's English cottage in Norwalk, CT. She is working on a second book.

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