Even if you didn’t grow up on the Jersey Shore (or more specifically, on Long Beach Island), and even if you aren’t a woman (or more specifically, an ambitious woman who likes to write), and even if you aren’t obsessed with American history (or more specifically, the evolving roles of women in America from the early 1900s to the present), I still think you will like this book.
Margaret Thomas Buchholz, or “Pooch,” as she is known to her friends, has put together a page-turning biography/memoir about the fascinating life of her mother, Josephine Lehman Thomas. The subtitle, From Washington Working Girl to Fisherman’s Wife, is the only thing I don’t love about this book because it’s such an understatement. It’s true that Josephine went from a Michigan farm town to various desk jobs in Washington, DC and eventually married a fisherman (well, sort of: after the Crash, he decided to use what was supposed to have been a recreational boat as a way to feed his family). But she also became a ghostwriter for several famous authors, traveled all over the world, and had numerous adventures, which she described with great wit and clarity in journals and letters.
Fortunately for us, Josephine was a packrat, and when Pooch moved into her parents’ house in Harvey Cedars, she found in the attic a vast trove of writing that would reveal more about her mother than she ever knew.
Some people might have opened those boxes, read a few letters, and done nothing with them. Instead, Pooch—most definitely her mother’s daughter—has produced a book that is truly a gift.