“And Then Like My Dreams” is a memoir by Margaret Rose Stringer about her life with her husband, Charles “Chic” Stringer, who was a top stillsman in the Australian film industry during the 1970s and 1980s. It’s a love story, no, not of the romantic “they had to overcome obstacles to be together” type, but a story of a real, deep and true love that lasted decades; more “happily ever after” than you can imagine in the most romantic Hollywood film.
Margaret Rose and Chic were very alike in many ways but were the exact opposite in others. Where they were opposite they complimented each other, fitting together perfectly like a Yin and Yang. Margaret Rose might protest, saying she brought need to the relationship which was smoothed out by Chic’s gifts, yet it’s obvious that he found something in her as well. Perhaps it was “only” as a soul mate that he could truly share his life with or perhaps he found even something more. Though most would feel lucky to find the former, I like to think the latter, that he found a soul mate and more.
Thinking about Margaret Rose’s imagined protest in the last paragraph, she went to some length to describe her various personality quirks, idiosyncrasies and foibles. Part of the reason was so she could tell the whole story of their relationship and her feelings of absolute dependence on Chic, but it was also to make him almost a saint for putting up with her. She once even made a list of reasons he was almost like a personal deity to her. Yet despite the concentration on her character flaws while glossing over his, Chic came across as a real flesh and blood person, a very likable person at that.
One of the ways Margaret Rose brought the story, and Chic, to life was by occasionally dropping in little scenes as if from a film script. Since they both spent most of their professional lives working in the film, TV and video industry, this makes a lot of sense. It also, as I said, helped to bring the people to life. We don’t just read what Chic said when in a certain situation, we can see it and experience it.
Of course by making Chic a real person and not just a personal saint or hero makes the inevitable end that much harder. We know and like the man and we don’t want to see him suffer and die. A part of us wants to imagine him puttering around his apartment, fixing and building new things in his clever way forever, but the pages of the book grow thinner and we know.
The story, though, is in many ways much more Margaret Rose’s story. She tells us about Chic and shows him to us in those little scenes, in photographs and in various anecdotes. But they are all Margaret Rose’s words and we get to know her very well through those words. Of course we get to know what Chic means to her, how emotionally reliant she is on him.
Humans are defined by their empathy. We feel what others feel. Margaret Rose shared her feelings with us. Because we bonded so close through her words, we, are at least I, could feel something, if only a very small part, of what she was feeling. Seeing it through her eyes turned a sad story into a very emotional one.
It is, of course, the details and how Margaret Rose expresses them that make the book an enjoyable read. She writes in a way that feels honest and straightforward and yet is emotional at the same time. You are drawn in and smile, laugh and, in the end, cry along with the author. This heartfelt memoir is highly recommended.
“And Like My Dreams” can be found on Amazon here.