The Cuban Grandmother
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I’m delighted to launch a new BigJules feature – Reader of the Month!
The first Reader of the Month is Martha Berry. A few years back Martha got in touch with me saying how much she enjoyed my Kydd tales, signing off as ‘the Cuban Grandmother’. Martha is now also a great-grandmother… She has three daughters, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren!
Martha was born an raised in Cuba and studied physics and chemistry there. On marrying Dr Charles Berry, the couple moved to the States. Sadly, after Castro took over the island she was never able to return. Martha undertook cancer research for USC Medical School for a time then obtained teaching credentials and taught math and science. She later moved into counselling and guidance.
The word retirement doesn’t seem to be in Martha’s vocabulary! As well as being matriarch of a large extended family she still works in the field of special education, teaches and counsels.
Martha says she has always been a romantic, perhaps born in the wrong era. She loves historical fiction but at school in Cuba detested factual history. ‘No one who had to read and memorize from the 4th to 12th grade all the Christopher Columbus trips to the New World could have developed a love of ships and the sea!’
Martha has read all Patrick O’Brian’s books twice and is doing the same with the Kydd books.
Does she have a favourite Kydd title?
‘How can anyone choose one? If you insist I pick one I will say the first book because it gave us the whole background of this poor young man who gets taken away by force from all he knows and loves. There was not a thing he could do to change his situation. We could predict though, by reading carefully this young man’s character, that he would eventually achieve what he deserved.’
She adds: ‘I love Renzi. A very complex man! He adds much to the books.’
And Martha had these comments on CARIBBEE: ‘I read this book in two nights. I could not put it down. Needless to say, you have not lost your touch. It was wonderful. I am very familiar with hurricanes. In Cuba they don’t name them, just refer to them by year. The waterfront would become an unbelievable sight. The waves would come over the retaining wall and move inland for blocks. The doors were nailed shut as if one door blew open and the others remained closed, the roof could be blown out. One year we prepared the house and the broadcasting company announced about midnight that the danger was passed. My father took out the nails and we went to bed. At 3:00 am the ‘ciclon’ decided to strike. It was a night to remember!’
And she concludes: ‘I can hardly wait for the next book. I get the impression that we will read a new chapter about Renzi and Kydd’s sister. Yeah! I hope so. ’