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In the Blood: A Memoir of My Childhood [Paperback]

Andrew Motion
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 Jun 2007

Written from a teenage child's point of view, Motion captures the pathos and puzzlement of childhood with great clarity of expression and freshness of memory. We encounter a strange but beguiling extended family, a profound love of the natural world, a troubled schooling, and a growing passion for books and writing.

By turns funny, heartbreaking and elegiac, In the Blood is a deeply moving portrait of the bond between a mother and her son, and the capturing of a moment in time before the loss of childhood innocence.


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In the Blood: A Memoir of My Childhood + Andrew Motion: Selected Poems 1976-1997 + The Customs House
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Product details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (21 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571228046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571228041
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 80,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A brave and beautiful book.' -- The Times

'The Laureate's recurring memories of his much-loved mother's illness and eventual death after a hunting accident...are genuinely moving.' -- Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

In the Blood is Andrew Motion's beautifully written memoir of how his country childhood was shattered when his mother suffered a terrible riding accident.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving memoir 19 July 2008
Format:Hardcover
I loved this book. It brought back for me many memories of "upper class" 1950's England; of a happy, well-balanced family life; life in the country etc.

A real page-turner. The author's love for his parents, and especially his mother, runs through the book, and moves the reader all the way through since right from the start it is known that she dies as a result of a riding accident. A wonderful Memoir written from a child's point of view.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-searching Memoir 25 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover
This moving and detailed account of Andrew Motion's childhood has all the quality of a novel; in short,it's a page-turner, but one that the reader is reluctant to speed through. Moreover, almost every page has that special quality of simple language and insightful detail that one expects from the best poetry.

Some Amazon reviewers have referred to the 'class issue' and one of them harks back to Sassoon's Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man, which is perfectly apposite. But the fact that Motion in adolescence resigns from the hunting set puts him in the modern age of enlightened thinkers. As a child one is a victim, subject to many influences and pressures that later need to be questioned. Motion does all of this, but never loses touch with his roots, as the title indicates. In fact, the nuclear family - Andrew, brother Kit and the parents are exquisitely drawn portraits of loving, caring people, and this book is a tribute to them as much as a revelation of the ex-Poet Laureate's childhood.

I would heartily recommend this book, both to young people, who will identify with the Andrew Motion's struggles with the problems of adolescence, and oldies, like me, who remember the war, evacuation, rationing, and times when schools were largely punitive institutions, intent on turning boys into real men, by floggings and the arbitrary imposition of petty rules. In this book it is not only the child but the mother whose stiff upper lip trembles before each new term. Indeed, the intimate relationship between Andrew, the elder son, and his mother is the golden thread that unifies the book. The school scenes recalled to me Joyce's portrait of Clongowes, while, in passionate intensity, the domestic scenes rivalled those of Sons and Lovers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In the Blood by Andrew Motion 30 Jan 2009
Format:Paperback
The fineness of description and level of perception in this book are remarkable, making it definitely a book to read. I found this level of perception contagious and encouraged me to look at life with similar subtlty. Born in the 50s, Andrew Motion describes his childhood with his brother and beloved mother and more distant father and the two schools he is sent to uptil his 16th birthday and his mother's catastrophic horse riding accident which leaves her in a coma of living death. Had to ration myself not to gobble up too many chapters at once.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the blood Andrew Motion 3 Sep 2009
By Rosie H
Format:Paperback
Beautifully wrtiten, a moving account of the author's childhood.
I have learnt more about the background of this poet which is always helpful in understanding where their poems come from or what they are refering to.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Motion's memoir deserves the excellent reviews it has had: his descriptive powers are - unsurprisingly - superb. He loved nature from an early age and "remembers" many scenes with poetic clarity. He records many conversations word for word, no doubt reconstructing them from genuinely remembered scraps and phrases common in family life and in the schools he attended. On the schools: the depiction of Maidwell is extraordinarily gruesome (the school is still going today!), a prison run by sadistic sociopaths. Only four stars because some of the memories are too good (too detailed) to be true and because the work as a whole needed a more rigorous editor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In the Blood 4 Feb 2011
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Owes something to Siegfried Sasoon's "Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man." Another book exposing the pages of a life of an upper middle class man, living in the countryside. A man whose family is derived from less than patrician roots.

This is a richly detailed book, focusing on a strata of society now squeezed into a new form. The fox hunting gentry parading in the village green, cavorting and chasing across the brown fields with all the aplomb of a gang of Hells Angels on a ride, have all gone. This has all been nullified by the new urban classes.

The rich descriptions of the strong vibrant natural forces, coupled with the atavistic blood letting, revert back to earlier primal times. Later the shooting of the stag, encasing the hands in the warm flesh to feel the heat, the dabbing of the cheeks with the severed blood soaked fox paw, all juxtaposed, with a seemingly sentimental concern for animals. Dogs as pets, bird-watching and the description of the trees, creates a polarity of tension in a perception. This is where the subtlety arises.

The depiction of life inside the family is crucial and reveals painstaking detail of a family frozen within social class. The mother who dotes on her two boys, finally forced to demarcate her social position by severing her emotional ties, by sending them to Maidwell; "for their own good." Mr. Motion is chained to his sense of internal duty- wage bringer and army man, completely frozen in emotional lock-down- someone bullied as a child, hinted at throughout the prose, grows up solitary, austere, trying to make contact and make it better for his children but irretrievably caught within the headlights of ice cold duty and self imposed prison. (I met him a few times, he was avuncular, had a presence but inhabited a role.
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