Verdict: THEN NOW AND FOREVER is a memoir full of ups and downs, passion, love, and loss, and adventure enough for a couple of lifetimes.
When her memoir begins, in 1975, Victoria Gray is twenty-one years old, amicably divorced with two children. She has just been introduced to Donald. and fallen head over heels in love. Their affair is passionate, heady, and intense, and soon they’re talking marriage – but Donald is a career criminal whose main skills include bank robbery (with Victoria as getaway driver) and extortion. When a scheme goes wrong, Donald ends up in jail serving a long-term sentence, and Victoria has a choice to make – does she wait for him to finish his time, or is it time for her to go make a new life for herself?
THEN NOW AND FOREVER is an adventurous story of a life lived outside the law, dodging cops, dealing drugs, getting addicted and getting clean, trying to stay out of jail, and always, always looking for love. Ms.Gray relates her tale in matter-of-fact, dryly humorous prose without overly-maudlin remorse or judgement – this is simply who she is and has been. For someone with such a substantial criminal record, she actually comes across as quite innocent in a lot of ways, almost naive, especially in her younger years, and it’s hard not to like her. The woman who casually trades cocaine and crack and dodges police raids is also the woman who dotes on her cats, believes in spiritual protectors, and wants nothing more than a happy, comfortable life in her own house with a steady income and someone to love, whether feline or human.
At times, the memoir comes across as a bit scattered and wandering, with short chapters and regular changes of scene and supporting characters, but then, that seems true to life for its subject, and at least makes for a varied and fast-paced read. This is not a book for strictly law-and-order types, or for those who have struggled or watched family members or friends struggle with addiction – her relaxed attitude towards drug dealing and use may infuriate those who have seen them ruin lives. The ending is a bit too much of a cliffhanger, which feels like something of a letdown after a story that’s already swerved all over the emotional landscape. Still, it’s a fascinating look at a thoroughly lively life, and about the struggle to find peace and happiness in a lifestyle that offers everything but.
THEN NOW AND FOREVER is a memoir full of ups and downs, passion, love, and loss, and adventure enough for a couple of lifetimes.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader