Family and More - Enemies or Friends?

Poetry, Biographies & Memoirs, Family & Relationships

By Helena Harper

Publisher : Pen Press (paperback)

ABOUT Helena Harper

Helena Harper
I'm a poet, children's author and teacher. My aim with my writing is to try to give people joy, laughter, some food for thought, and to try and bring some inspiring messages to my readers. I like to write poetry for adults and picture books/early readers. My first two books are stories in More...


Family and More is a poignant poetic memoir, in which the author examines the lives of family members and other people, who have touched her own life and taught her some valuable lessons. As the daughter of a German mother and English father, who were on opposite sides during the Second World War, Helena Harper's poetic themes are informed by notions of national and emotional boundaries, the horrors of war, self-discovery, love, and the infinite power of the human spirit.

       Besides heartwarming tributes to both parents, she describes the exploits and personalities of various German and English relatives, from her gifted, energetic maternal grandmother and heroic maternal grandfather whom she never met, to her two uncles, 'human and fallible both' – the hard-working, sun-loving German one, who nearly died at Stalingrad, and the charismatic, conservative English one. A much loved colleague, a devoted physiotherapist and difficult boss are also amongst the people described.

       Many of the people she writes about are now dead, but as you read this collection you will notice that what stands out above all is a sense of life-affirming love and optimism. You are left at the end knowing that every encounter we have in life can be a force for good and, if we see with the heart, our man-made divisions will seem both absurd and insignificant. Written in lyrical, almost musical free verse, combined with memorable imagery, this is a moving celebration of our common humanity.


I was inspired to write this book because of my German/English background, wondering how I could have possibly chosen sides between these two nations, had I been born a few years earlier. Suddenly I realised that the only things that divide us are man-made differences and when we see that clearly, we see how 'artificial' such differences are. Our common humanity is what binds us together and that is what I have tried to convey in this collection of poems.

Family and More by Helena Harper is a tribute, a family portrait, a synopsis of life. By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, multi-award winning writer and poet,
Family and More, a book of poetry by Helena Harper, is like a poetic synopsis of a wartime saga, the life of a family with a backdrop of history, a memoir told in poetic blurbs. The author encapsulates characters and events breathtakingly. There is so much here to think about once one turns the last page. I was left wanting more! More! Though I love poetry, I'm looking forward to the literary (poetic!) novel (or novels!) where Harper could explore the nuances of each and every memory, hook them together, let us see the relationships, the interaction, the settings, one poignant scene at a time.”

Karen Cioffi, Author and Freelance Writer, DKV Writing 4 U, (, co-author of Day’s End Lullaby,
"Family and More – Enemies or Friends? is more than a collection of poems, it is a story I enjoyed and learned from. As you read this book, it becomes clear that the author put a great deal of time and effort into the choice of every word used. Each poem has a melodic flow that moves smoothly into the next.

Family and More enlightens the reader to the conflicts and confusion that exist in a family divided by war. Being the child of a German mother and English father in the aftermath of WWII, the author delves into her family’s history by examining the lives of several family members as well as other personal relationships. Each poem is an intertwined life. With descriptive imagery these people come alive; you see their struggles and triumphs. This wonderful poetic story goes beyond a family history; it depicts the futility, frustration and hardship of war, along with the frailties and strengths of the people that make up each of our families.
Family and More – Enemies or Friends? is a beautifully written book. I highly recommend it."

Glenda A. Bixler, IP Book Reviewer 
Family and More by Helena Harper is a rare tribute; however, it is also a sharing of poetic words that are both beautiful and thought provoking in how we should remember and realize the impact of family and friends...and even an enemy or two. A delightful trip for poetry lovers as well as those who wish to remember their own families through the experiences of others.” 

Charles R. James, author of The Reason for My Journey 
“Thank you so much for allowing me to read your wonderful book. I loved it! I became totally engrossed in the story. A wonderfully told story of a family’s love and courage in the face of war and hardship. All of the pain and joy over the years comes to life on every page. I would, and I will highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read. This is a book that I will enjoy reading over and over.”