A Memoir of Friendship Secondary Title

In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.

But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.

Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.

Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.

The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.

Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.

The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.

A Memoir of Friendship

“The letters between these two women are poignant and understated in their unflinching honesty. . . .   a significant achievement and a landmark book”
Globe and Mail

“[A] dialogue of grace and generosity…It is also surprisingly gripping, propelled by suspense”
Quill & Quire

Penguin Canada 2007

A Memoir of Friendship

A thirty year dialogue on love and literature between Carol Shields and Blanche Howard

For 30 years, the popular, award-winning author Carol Shields exchanged letters with her close friend and occasional collaborator, author Blanche Howard.

Their correspondence spanning the years 1975 to 2003 was halted when Carol Shields died of cancer. It was a momentous era in women’s history and it was a dramatic period for them. Carol, a young mother of five, married to an engineering professor, took her place on the world literary stage, when her fiction garnered Booker Prize nominations and won the coveted US Pulitzer Prize.

Blanche Howard, 12 years older than Carol, married to a politician, was a mother, and herself a published, acclaimed author. They discussed the craft of writing, their families, other writers, their disappointments, and the details of their daily lives. 

The letters place their strong, intelligent voices on the page. But Blanche Howard provides context and chronology in descriptive linking passages and journal entries. The result is a rich and intimate portrait of a celebrated author, a deep friendship between two women, their ambitions, and their history.

The foreword is by Anne Giardini, a writer and daughter of Carol Shields

The editors are Blanche Howard and Allison Howard. Some photos included. Blanche Howard’s books include A Celibate Season  a novel co-authored with Carol Shields, and her acclaimed novel Penelope’s Way. Carol Shields is the author of  the Pulitzer prize winning novel The Stone Diaries, Larry’s Party, and Unless.