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on 29 July 2007
Homes narrates the story of her introduction to her biological parents at age 31 and her fragmented and difficult relationships with them in the ensuing years. Her biological mother, the Mistress of the title, while no angel herself, has been used and abused; her natural father is selfish and successful. The author paints both of them, and her adoptive parents and other relatives, with craft and wit. The characters, as seen by Homes, come alive and are exposed in all their flaws and virtues. The conclusion, that she is the product of both nature and nurture, is to be expected but the journey is compelling reading nonetheless.
What disappoints is the lack of self analysis that such a fantastic true story deserves. Holmes fails to convince us why in her new relationships she makes no attempt to right the historic imbalance between her natural parents, nor why her emotions are stirred more by her cold, predatory father than her repentant and needy mother. There's surely a further memoir to come in this story.
Enjoyable reading - and thought provoking too.
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VINE VOICEon 21 August 2013
There's a lot of pain in this memoir. Plenty of other raw emotions too, and understandable coming from an adopted child. AM Homes trawls through a stranger's (her biological mother's) life and possessions to ascertain where she came from and who she is. It was painful and well written, but I struggled with the end which turned from memoir into facts about adoption. I am interested in the topic of adoption, so this was a good book to read and I think anyone who is adopted would find it, if nothing else, thought-provoking.
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on 3 March 2013
This is, for the main, intriguing, especially if you have read Homes's novels. Since she only met her birth mother twice and fell out with her birth father after a few meetings, the memoir does not have a lot of action or sadly, answers for Homes. Still, her detail on her birth parents and her reaction to them is honest and absorbing.

Detailed section on research of family tree ( although explained as wanting to acknowledge some of the lives discovered whether relevent or not ), lost the gripping nature of first half of the book. Final, warm tribute to adoptive mother's mother might have been included here or at least signposted more strongly?
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on 9 October 2013
I loved this book! The subject is dear to my heart, having been through the joy and heartbreak of 'finding' or 'being found', with my 1st husband, who only discovered, at the age of 17, that he was an adopted child. He had trotted off, in response to his National Service call-up, birth certificate in hand, as requested, only to be sent home to get his 'full' birth certificate. That was when his parents had to tell him that he was adopted, as a young baby, in 1930. The shock, I believe, arrested his emotional development. He didn't tell me that he was adopted until we had been married for 13 years, with three children. Together with my help, we 'found his birth mother. He too, like A.M. Homes, had a 'needy' mother; his father would have liked to have married his pregnant girl friend, but was sent packing by the family, as was the baby.

I think, because of the above, I have always been immensely interested in this subject and therefore devoured this little book, so well-written and full of real life and what it means to be adopted, to be forced to give up your baby, to be 'found'. I loved all exploration of Homes's ancestors and thoroughly understood her need to know her roots. I admired how she gently avoided bringing her loving parents into the book but, when she began her research, their background too was explored - she wanted to know about anyone who was connected to her, whether genetically or not.

I can understand, however, that not everyone would find this subject of interest and others who might find it particularly distressing.

Thank you Ms A. M. Homes for sharing your story.
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on 28 December 2014
Very disappointing, she is definitely better at writing fiction. I can't understand how, being a feminist she has little time for her birth mother who had no support and yet seems more enthralled with her incredibly selfish birth father. She sounds a very unhappy person, actually.I have been thinking of researching my own family background but after reading this and the thoroughly boring descriptions of her ancestors, I am having second thoughts. I have an adopted brother.
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on 15 February 2014
This was a real mix. Extremely painful to read in places, almost cringey, in others it was a bit boring, and ultimately it was unsatisfying because it was kind of a mystery without an ending. Of course it must be even more frustrating for Homes herself, not getting the answers to questions, but that's different!

This is the story of what it is to be adopted. The painful bit was also the interesting bit - how she felt, being confronted with biological parents she'd never sought out, what that did to her sense of herself, how it made her feel as a person or non-person, and (the painful bit) how her biological parents' almost non-interest in her, and self-obsession with the effect she'd had on their lives (which didn't include wanting to include the 'real' Homes in their lives). There are lots of issues raised here to do with what makes us us, how we react when that notion is challenged, but they only really, along with the story of her early relationship with her biological parents take up about a half of the book.

The next bit, which is the detail of her obsessive search for her biological and adoptive families, was the bit I found rather tedious. It read to me like a filler. So much personal pain, I'm sure, is captured there in that story of her obsession but as a reader it felt - as I said, tedious.

Then there's the ending. All the questions that her biological father's behaviour raises, and the lack of information she manages to turn up about his relationship with her biological mother. She asks loads of questions - the questions she asked herself - and she gets us interested, and then - nothing. As I said, this must be a horrendous experience, but it makes for a let-down kind of read. Sorry.
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on 6 February 2014
The book stArted off well and was quite captivating. However the story gradually began to ramble on and on and on. I would not recommend purchasing this book. Sorry! I didn't bother to finish the story as it was clear the author was just putting her life in order in writing basically for her own family record. There was much that was of no interest to anyone other than herself. We didn't need an in depth history of generations of family names before her. A story which started well became a long winded yawn in the latter part of the book.
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on 28 August 2015
As other readers have pointed out, this is very much a book of two halves. The opening chapters are riveting and honest but when she starts to research her family tree the narrative dulls. I flicked through the latter parts and afterwards put the book in the paper bank as I didn't feel comfortable about giving it to charity and wasting another reader's valuable time.
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on 21 March 2016
I thought this was a brilliant book as Amy writes in an honest and engaging way. It is a powerful and courageous act to write about such personal experiences mainly because it exposes the self to the anonymous judging minds of the readers. I felt the voice of the author reached places in me that I leave hidden and somehow reading her experiences made me feel less alone in the world. I loved the fact the book was dedicated to her grandmother and daughter who are bonded by such a wooden table that hummed with moments of love shared. As Henry James wrote in A Portrait of a Lady: "Why should there be pain? In such hours as this what have we to do with pain? That's not the deepest thing; there's something deeper."
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on 11 August 2014
Interesting in parts, but a bit self centred and self pitying.
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