Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Tyler Trafford

By Lynn Willoughby

Almost a Great Escape ~ Tyler Trafford

What to say about this book?  It is not a memoir as it is more his mother’s story, but because the writer writes in his own voice and his mother’s voice, there was some confusion for me.  I had trouble with this writing style and trouble with the fact that there seemed to be an awful lot of filler and not enough story. It really is the story of a mother he never new and is based on a box of letters, telegrams and postcards she give Tyler as she is near death.
So, it is the mother he never knew, a man he has never heard of and the loss of his mother’s “one best thing.”
We begin in Montreal as Alice is seventeen. She meets a Norwegian pilot who is training in Canada during the early days of WWII.  They fall madly in love while skiing.  Jens Muller is then sent to England and his plane is eventually shot down over the English channel.  His letters always say how much he loves Alice, and that he will return for her.
Alice, however, is a beautiful, wealthy debutante whose mother is hell bent on making sure Alice marries “well”.  But her marriage to Ted Trafford is loveless and abusive.
What I liked most about this book were the locations – Christmas Eve for Alice visiting friends on Elbow Drive, relaxing at their property in Canmore, the purchase of a farm near Springbank.  Alice was dauntless, sometimes cruel, in making her children strong and independent, but most often she and her family were just not very likable.
We find out that Jens Muller is a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III – the location of The Great Escape movie starring Steve McQueen.  Of the 76 prisoners who escaped through the tunnel -” Harry”, only three actually made it to freedom.  Jens was one of them!
As one reviewer said …”I think Jens Muller made more than one Great Escape, once he escaped the German POW camp and once when Tyler’s mother chose another man to marry.”  I agree!!
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