Things My Mother Never Told Me Paperback – 3 Jul 2003
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"[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)
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Top Customer Reviews
I felt some affinity with the background. I lived in Ireland for a time; not long ago I discovered my mother's large and colourful Yorkshire family; my own family is a medical one; and I live near where the author's parents came from. So the book might have worked for me.
I'm not sure it did, but I can see why it was successful: a family history; lots of medical bits; some religion; the War; and Irishness. But you're spared the platitudinous "Cloggie (northern English) meets Paddy" theme: both the author's parents came from prosperous business families. I took the point that whilst today being of Irish origin is rather chic, but that was not always so, and I noted the author's point that "by definition being Irish meant that the O'Sheas must be poor". You also get some telling points on a mixed marriage between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant agnostic and accompanying prejudices, though these do not seem to have harmed the marriage.
But the problem with this book is that it is too wordy. It's not without a bit of humour, but the author lacks the light touch of McCarthy's Bar. I was not surprised to find that the author was Professor of Writing at Goldsmiths College. A veritable wordsmith. Indeed, the book is so lengthy, so full of prose that I was surprised that it was not at least on the long list for the Booker Prize. Perhaps it was.
I have to say I really struggled with the first 100 pages and it took two or three attempts to get into the book - separated by months.
I did eventually get into the book and whilst I didn't find it a great read - I am interested enough to buy the book about his father if that is recommendation enough.
It is worth the effort to get into it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An interesting read but a little heavy going. Not as good as 'When did you last see your Father', which I was unable to put downPublished 19 months ago by Yorkshire Lass
This book was one of the best I've ever read, gripping from start to finish and I didn't want it to endPublished on 14 May 2013 by suebee
I thought this was an engaging book - you can feel the frustration of a man whose mother kept so many secrets, and his delight at finding the correspondence between his parents... Read morePublished on 22 April 2011 by fourthofapint
If you are like me and are as endlessly curious as I am about the lives of ordinary people in ordinary towns and cities, then I am sure that you will enjoy this book. Read morePublished on 16 April 2011 by Scholastica
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