The impact of Blake Morrisons memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father
was considerable: in prose that combined lucidity and beauty with uncompromising honesty, Morrison granted the reader an insight into a family drama quite unlike anything we had encountered before--a virtual classic of literature about the family. In that book, Morrisons mother was presented as a shadowy, usually silent figure; in Things My Mother Never Told Me
, we are given her story, and its every bit as fascinating as anything in the earlier book. As before, the central themes of the new book concern secrets, and the slow unfolding of an (often painful) truth. Morrisons mother kept many things from him--not least the fact that she never told him that before becoming Kim Morrison, she had previously been Agnes OShea, daughter of sizeable Irish family. Morrison tells us he was only vaguely aware of his Irish relations--but that was only one of the many revelations awaiting him.
As he set out to find the facts behind this deceptively quiet Kerry girl who had worked as a doctor in Forties Dublin (and subsequently in British hospitals during the war), he discovered that she had totally reinvented her personality. But the seemingly conventional housewife and mother she had elected to become was only part of the story. We are told of an all-consuming love affair during the war; we are given a strong and vivid portrait of everyday life in the hospitals and RAF training camps of the period (where Morrisons father told the pilots of the dangers of venereal disease); and (most of all) we are taken into the world of a remarkable woman; Kim Morrison is an unsung heroine of a time increasingly distant from our own world.
Whatever our own relationships with our parents, its impossible to avoid identifying with Morrisons candid and carefully structured memoir; the graceful prose involves us ever more in a narrative that has all the grip of a superior piece of fiction.--Barry Forshaw
--This text refers to the
"[Morrison's] prose has the diamond cut of a poet's eye, and his story is suffused with warmth and longing-he has brought [his mother] vividly to life in an outstanding work of family literature" (Independent
"Honest, funny and touching, this is a loving tribute from a son to his mother" (Sunday Mirror
"Morrison constructs the book beautifully, as always... Fine writing and expert editing...with Morrison's usual virtues of unsentimental observation and expert storytelling" (Sunday Times
"A marvellous example of what a zen-like act of sustained attention can do to honour and illuminate the ordinary... It has a universality" (Evening Standard
"A scintillating read... Not only a fine evocation of the period, but also a fascinating study of a marriage" (GQ