Mothers' Boys Paperback – 7 Apr 2005
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"Margaret Forster has the gift of making you care deeply about what happens to her characters" (Scotsman)
"This is Forster writing at her very best" (Daily Mail)
"How does it feel to be the mother of a juvenile thug? Or the mother of that thug's hapless victim? It is the pain of such mothers that Margaret Forster explores most brilliantly in her dark, harrowing and extremely topical novel" (Val Hennessy Daily Mail)
"Forster is remarkably honest, skilful and perceptive" (Observer)
"Margaret Forster has a remarkable gift for taking huge social issues and welding them into minutely observed human dramas that are perfect portraits of the way we live now...The story grips and the heart bleeds for these good mothers who are, like all mothers, never good enough" (Polly Toynbee Sunday Express)
'The story unfolds with striking authenticity and perception... sensitive and gripping' - Daily TelegraphSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
At times you feel as if you are being bashed about the head by the moral of the story, but that's a small price to pay for the pleasure in seeing Forster's brilliantly drawn characters move the action along. Gradually, we have a mental picture of all the main characters. My favourite is Sheila's father, who insists on being called, Eric James, his first and second forenames. You can visualise him, aged 90, his conversation splattered with `what's us doing ', `mebbe' and `summat', visiting his wife's grave every Sunday in his best suit and hat and resolute about the timetable of his life. In addition to making a 90 year old come alive, Forster makes the teenage boys, the 70 year old Sheila and the 45 year old Harriet come alive too.
A connection between the two mothers is established when Sheila, writes to Harriet. Both women have been replaying their agony in their own minds and this meeting is a significant start to their future healing. They are the mothers of Leo, who has been convicted of a violent assault, and Joe, the victim. Leo's `mother' is in fact his grandmother, and has brought him up since he was three. The mothers are divided by class (and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Youth Court Scene). Harriet, the victim's mother, lives in a house near the sea with a garden; and Sheila, the attacker's mother, lives in a terraced house with a window box and periodically thinks of taking in lodgers. Leo is sentenced to a year in a Young Offender Institution,having pleaded guilty because he was at the crime scene holding a knife and covered in blood. The only explanation he gives is that he'd been drinking and had for the first time in his life taken LSD. In addition to excellent characterisation all the various settings created in the book feel authentic.
The legal background has been well researched with only one flaw. Joe's mother is allowed to have her son's clothes back after Leo has been convicted; and she washes the slashed, darkened clothes and puts them away. In reality this would not have happened, as there was still an outstanding offender to be apprehended and the clothes would have been needed as exhibits in a potential future trial. Having said that, the Police Sergeant in charge of the case is well drawn and believable, and possibly it's his ineptitude which has allowed this vital piece of evidence to be returned! What is strange, is that Harriet wants these clothes back at all.
Don't let the long paragraphs put you off or the fact that at the core of this book is a violent attack on a young man by two teenagers. This is a powerful slice of life drama which is totally believable, poignant and bittersweet. It affords us an opportunity to see a crime from both a victim's and an attacker's point of view, and Forster provides the means whereby we can metaphorically walk in several people's shoes.