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The Cruel Mother
on 23 March 2013
This is an honest and heartbreaking account of a family tragedy, when the author discovered that her great-grandmother drowned her two infant daughters. It is a book about family secrets, of the life of women at the turn of the century, the struggle of raising a family in relative poverty, the spectre of post natal depression and the hidden world of infanticide and backstreet abortions. Sian Busby's great-grandmother Beth was a loving mother of three sons, who had lost her little girl Maisie shortly before becoming pregnant with triplet daughters. It was a bad birth and one daughter died - the midwife not even suspecting there was a third baby. What seems surprising in this age of tabloid headlines and internet judgements is the compassion and leniency shown women who killed their newborns and the understanding shown to their circumstances.
Sian Busby was a wonderful author, who died herself, much too young. Her bravery in exploring her own thoughts about motherhood and how her great-grandmother's secret affected her family is a really honest account and an important social history of working class women and their daily struggles. This is a very moving read and one I recommend highly.