2014 W.O. Mitchell Book Award
The City of Calgary
2014 Alberta Readers Choice Award
2014 Wilfrid Eggleston Nonfiction Award
Writers Guild of Alberta
First Published 2013 by Goose Lane Editions (Canada) and Sperling & Kupfer (Italy)
Second Edtion published by Tyler Trafford 2022
"Never Let Go of Your One Good Thing."
The inspirational message Tyler found inside Alice's album.
Tyler opens the story of Almost A Great Escape with: "My mother's name was Alice Tyler. The story of her One Good Thing begins at her funeral in March 2004 and ends 60 years earlier, in March 1944, when 76 World War II airmen break out of Stalag Luft III, the Nazi prison camp in Sagen, Poland. Only three made it home."
Almost a Great Escape is the story of a son who takes an unexpected journey into his mother's long-buried past, a past hidden inside a Campbell's Beef Noodle Soup box. After her passing, her son Tyler opens the box and finds a confusion of old letters, journals, and creased photographs that revealed his mother's secret WWII romance, and more. The letters were from the Norwegian fighter pilot Jens Müller, who would became famous as one of only three prisoners to make it home after “The Great Escape.”
But this forbidden romance is only one of the many mysteries inside Tyler's unusual inheritance. As he reconstructs and deconstructs his mother's life, from her youth as a wealthy Montreal debutante to her final days as a broken but unbent casualty of an unhappy marriage, he begins to understand her willingness to pay the price for her choices. Ultimately he discovers the power and inspiration of his mother's life, and her final message to him: Never Let Go of Your One Good Thing.
.Almost a Great Escape is a mesmerizing account of consequences, confirming that you can survive your past, but you can never escape from it.
99 LOVE LETTERS AND PHOTOS
Montreal debutante, Alice Tyler, kept this album hidden from 1941 to her death in 2004, leaving it to her son, Tyler. The album contains all the photos and letters she kept from the Norwegian fighter pilot Jens Müller, beginning with those he wrote from the RNAF training camp in Little Norway outside Toronto to when he began flying missions from Britain. The letters include his account of being shot down over the British Channel and while he was a prisoner in a Luftwaffe camp.
In those letters he always promised that he would love her forever and would come back for her. Jens kept his promise. He escaped from Stalag Luft III in March 1944 (The Great Escape) and wasted no time returning for her.
The album tells the story of Alice and Jens, their love and its collision with Montreal social values during WWII. Ultimately, it's about the consequences of not taking a chance on love.
This is not a sentimental love story.
It belongs in another, higher category. It's one that people of both sexes and any age past puberty will appreciate.
And incidentally, it's a fine piece of
writing and composing."
Alice Tyler, athlete and aspiring author, during her years at McGill Univeristy.
Jens Müller skiing at the Tyler family resort where he met Alice in 1941.
ALICE TYLER'S SECRET ALBUM
Jens training at Little Norway near Toronto.