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Mother Country [Kindle Edition]

Libby Purves
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £6.99
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Book Description

Even her closest friend agreed that Shark Grayson wasn't fit to keep her baby. A heroin addict, living in a sordid London squat, she was already close to death when her American lover took charge of the situation by force, and carried off the baby Alexander to give him a loving home in the Mid-West and an affluent future. But now Alex is twenty-seven, orphaned again and afflicted by a sense of lost roots and a romantic vision of England. A business trip provides the chance to go and trace his unknown relatives. He finds friendship; encounters some startlingly predatory girls; and confronts mystery in the eccentric alternative health centre run by the austere Julia. He discovers that while some British people are very hard indeed to get along with, some turn out to be, after all, more closely akin to him than he could ever have imagined.

Product Description


"'Beautifully written, funny and sad, this book is simply captivating.' Cressida Connolly"

Book Description

Mother Country by Jeremy Harding is a hugely moving and affecting literary memoir of adoption, secrets and the need to belong.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 599 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder; New Ed edition (8 Dec. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00654L9KA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #189,556 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confused? You will be... 10 Sept. 2009
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Jeremy Harding was adopted as an 11-day-old baby in the early fifties when these things could be handled by private citizens, with a brief check made by the social services, such as they were at that time. He knew from the age of five that he was adopted, but the story spun by his mother was of a poor little Irish girl who gave him up gladly - his father being a departed Scandinavian seaman. He was well cared for by his adoptive parents, Maureen and Colin, who were fairly well-off, and mostly free of want during his childhood.

It is not until he is a grown man, a writer and journalist of good repute (he writes often for the London Review of Books and other literary journals) that he decides to look into his natural parentage. His adoptive father is dead and his adoptive mother in a nursing home and mostly non compos mentis by then.

The story of his search for his natural mother, Margaret Walsh, is fascinating in its own right, but in trawling the records and through family papers he also finds out more about his own parents than he ever knew before. It is while he is on the search that he realises that very little of the story his mother told him when he was a child had a basis in fact. Looking into his mother's past in particular reveals that not even the name Maureen was real - she was christened Minnie and came from solid working-class stock and not the rich middle-classes as she had claimed.

Harding writes well about the search and about his past with his adoptive parents. He is a generous, imaginative writer whose literary gifts make this a most engaging and satisfying memoir.

Nb. some of the reviews on this page seem to be referring to another book completely. Who or what is Purves? I think they have leaked through the microfibres or something.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adopted child's quest for his natural mother 2 Jun. 2009
By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Jeremy Harding was an adopted child who, for a long time, didn't bother investigating the circumstances of his birth. Eventually deciding (for the sake of his own children as much as for his own curiosity) that he ought to at least make an attempt, he set about his task. As he suspected would be the case, there were many twists and turns before the ultimate conclusion.

This book traces the story of Jeremy's quest but it seems to double up, at least in part, as Jeremy's autobiography. No doubt there would be other stuff in here if it were a genuine autobiography, but there's a lot of material in here that isn't obviously relevant to the main story. There is much information about the author's childhood, the places he lived and the people he was surrounded by, which provides an insight into London and the home counties as they were back then. Depending on your perspective, you may find this fascinating or frustrating. Fascinating because it is interesting in its own right or frustrating because you're really interested in Jeremy's quest for his natural mother - it's for you to decide.

As to the quest itself, that was at times very frustrating for Jeremy. He tried all the obvious archive sources but nearly missed the line that proved successful. Even then, he got lucky. Yes, he eventually identified his birth mother. Was she dead or alive? If alive, was there a reunion and if so, was it a happy one? You can find the answers in this book, which is certainly worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mother Country 23 April 2013
By bernie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
One of our favouite authors - Libby Purves - with a fine story well told giving hours of enjoyment to all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 18 Nov. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Harding's determined quest into his own past is a perfectly measured portrait of class and its constraints. It combines the narrative drive of a great detective novel with the subtlety and descriptiveness of great literature. A tender (but never sentimental) portrait of two mothers
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An American in England 8 Jan. 2004
By "kayz"
I quite enjoyed this book, the writing style grew on me and the characters, though far from flawless, were likeable. Purvis has a perceptive style and an empathetic one, though occasionally I felt that it only just managed to avoid sentimentality. The final chapters, built around Sept 11th 2001 just managed this, though a pivotal scene concerning a major character (their death) I found difficult to take seriously.
Although the characters come from the middle and the upper classes, this is essentially a middle class book, written from a moral, and a comfortable perspective, there is little sense of desperation in the pages, despite the fact that the subject matter includes themes of drug addiction and parentless children. Saying that, Purvis avoids too many neat endings, I liked the way the novel concludes with suggestions of what the future might hold for these characters rather than drawing them straight into a kind of pre-destination of where they will be going in life.
I would recommend Mother Country as an enjoyable read, written in a comfortable, flowing style with several poetic turns of phrase, and a sympathetic authoring style.
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