2009-09-02 / Features

Before We Met Is Memoirist's Memoir

BY LINDA J. WILSON

Mere facts do not begin to describe the complex, complicated, multilingual and multitalented person who is Elizabeth Freeman Uhlig. Mere facts do not begin to describe the complex, complicated, multilingual and multitalented person who is Elizabeth Freeman Uhlig.
Before We Met
By Elizabeth G. Uhlig,
Collages by the Author
Marble House Editions
223 pages (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-9815345-0-3

In November 2000 this newspaper carried a review of Elizabeth Uhlig's Grandmother Mary, the story of the author's mother from childhood to old age. Seven years later, when Mary Freeman died, Uhlig, her youngest child, realized that witnessing the end of her mother's life had set her on the path of telling her own story. Before We Met is Uhlig's memoir, beginning with her girlhood in the little white house with dark green shutters on 168th Street where so much of Grandmother Mary takes place, continuing with her decision to study ballet, travel extensively and finally come back to Queens to find what she came to realize she had been seeking all along.

Most of the factual material that is the basis for Before We Met can be found at www.marblehouse editions.com, the eponymous site for Uhlig's publishing company, which she started when no "trade" publisher would consider Grandmother Mary. However, mere facts do not begin to describe the complex, complicated, multilingual and multitalented person who is Elizabeth Freeman Uhlig. Her story of growing up in Queens in the 1950s and '60s, her postsecondary education at C.W. Post College on Long Island and at McGill University in Canada, two marriages and the convoluted career path that led to her earning a master's degree in library science at Queens College, where only days before she had been about to enroll in the master of business administration program and finally to her becoming a "vanity" publisher and memoirist is too long and involved to be encapsulated in a review here. Before We Met, however, is a fascinating account of a woman who found the secret to taking charge of her own life and then learned how to live that life to the fullest.

Uhlig and the people who have become part of her circle are fully worthy of a reader's attention, whether that reader seeks to explore one person's account of life as the youngest of five children growing up in a neighborhood that was growing and changing along with her or simply to become acquainted with a fascinating woman who has used her life experiences to truly become her own person. It should not be missed.

In a cover letter, Uhlig apologized for what she says are "a few typos". We found none, although as in Grandmother Mary, we see a slight tendency to overuse the word "sweet". This is our only, admittedly very minor cavil. Through Marble House Editions, Uhlig has brought us Grandmother Mary, Anna Pavlova, Werner Kleeman (From Dachau to D-Day) and Susan D'Angelo Mannino (An Italian American Story A Memoir), among others. Now in Before We Met she introduces herself. We urge our readers to make her acquaintance with all possible speed.

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