on 5 July 2011
Judy Golding's memoir of her father, Lord of the Flies author William Golding, is beautifully written, poignant and extremely engaging. The opening of the book is more novel-like than memoir, as she describes an accident the Goldings had while sailing in their boat. Following this, she takes us on a journey of growing up with an increasingly famous father, a mother who seemed largely indifferent towards her daughter, and the emotional difficulties of herself and her brother.
One of the most compelling aspects of the memoir is Judy's discussion of Golding's novels. In contrast to John Carey's recent scholarly biography of Golding, The Children of Lovers includes personal recollections of events that inspired Golding, in novels as diverse as Lord of the Flies, The Spire, Pincher Martin, The Pyramid and Free Fall.
It is to the author's great credit that the reader becomes entirely immersed in the Goldings' world and I was disappointed to reach the end of the book! I would highly recommend The Children of Lovers to William Golding fans and also to readers more generally interested in memoirs and life in post-war Britain. It is also recommended for anyone interested in the complexities of family life.
To be honest, I approached this book with some doubts, since memoirs of the great written by their nearest and dearest often disappoint. This lovely book doesn't.
Not only does it give precious insights into the daily life, preoccupations, eccentricities and mental workings of a very great writer, but it's a superb study of family dynamics in and of itself. Judy Golding comes across as an engaging, lovable, formidably intelligent personality whom it is a delight to meet. Her efforts to understand her often-difficult parents and brother have resulted in what might be called a family portrait -- a study of the Goldings which reads like a fluent and gripping novel.
Judy was clearly an adored, adoring daughter, but not an uncritical one. She tells us that her father's relationship with his family was filled with complexities and tensions, many of which are reflected in the themes of Golding's novels -- the secrets, the abrupt revelations, the insecurities, the conflict between the need for privacy and the demands of family life, and so forth. Golding is a very British author, and one who perennially returned to family life in his novels. This book about a very British family holds many of the keys to his inspiration.
It's beautifully written.
One of the best family memoirs I've read, a book which all lovers of William Golding will relish -- but far more than that, a fine, subtle, very human book on its own account.
Judy Golding, daughter of Lord of the Flies author, William Golding, begins her memoir with an almost heart-stopping account of the family's near-death experience when their Dutch racing barge collided with a ship when sailing in the morning mist off the English coast. After opening her memoir with this very descriptive piece of writing, Judy Golding's story of life with her father, follows a slightly calmer route - although she informs us early on in her account that her father often sailed close to the wind.
William Golding met his future wife, Ann, in 1939, and they fell immediately in love with each other even though they were both engaged to other people. They married very soon afterwards and Judy tells us "for the rest of their lives, they were always by far the most important people in the world to each other, bar none: friends, lovers, children, grandchildren." Judy's brother, David, was born in 1940 and Judy was born five years later, a nervous child, terrified of the dark who felt her father brought her comfort and safety. Judy tells us of how she felt complete, unquestioning love for her father and tried to emulate him by deepening her voice, trying to write with her left hand and running downstairs as he did: lightly and with his toes turned out. Judy felt rather differently about her mother, who could be unpredictable and volatile and, we later learn, jealous of her daughter. Fortunately Judy was very close to her paternal grandparents, particularly her grandfather, Alec, an intelligent, patient and gentle man, who nevertheless had a difficult relationship with his son, Judy's father. Judy admits her father was a complex character and although he loved his children, he could be cruelly contemptuous of those around him including, at times, his own son and daughter. In fact both Judy and David underwent nervous breakdowns as young adults and, in this honest and engaging memoir, Judy explains to the reader how the impact of her father's internal conflicts deeply affected those closest to him. There is a huge amount more to this memoir, but I shall leave the rest of Judy's story for prospective readers to discover for themselves.
In 'The Children of Lovers' Judy Golding has written a candid and insightful account of life with her father, which is both poignant and humorous - she is honest about his failings and is brave in confronting her own over-dependency on him, and yet throughout her story her love for her father shines through, despite his difficult and sometimes contradictory behaviour. One of the reasons for writing this memoir was, the author admits, the tantalising prospect of bringing her father to life again - well she has certainly brought him to life for the reader, and reading this memoir has made me keen to learn more about William Golding and, as such, I have just obtained a copy of John Carey's:William Golding: The Man who Wrote Lord of the Flies in order to do just that. Recommended.
on 14 March 2012
William Golding is a master story teller and these memoirs of his daughter's throw some light onto how he thought and a lot of light onto how he was as a family man. A man of contradictions. The memoirs were not always comfortable reading for me, who almost worshipped the man, only knowing him through his books. But as his daughter says, he couldn't understand why people would want to worship him anyway so I felt a bit silly at making him my hero.
A thought provoking book about one of England's best writers.
on 3 June 2012
Sad, fascinating and revealing, this is a daughter's account of William Golding. She does not hold back on the less attractive aspects of her father's character, but there is so much here that is also about love. Better to be the child of someone who actively pursues a fascinating life path, even though there is wreckage (literally in this case - the book opens with the wreck of Golding's boat) than to live with someone who does nothing to inspire. Read this in conjunction with John Carey's biography for a rounded picture of the man who wrote a great deal more than Lord of the Flies. For me, The Spire and Pincher Martin are equal if not superior. A compelling character study.
on 17 April 2015
Judy Golding writes beautifully and from the heart, and there are few subjects she could better lend this talent to than her late father - though 'The Children Of Lovers' paints a welcomely rich portrait of the rest of her family, too, particularly Judy herself (despite her humbly attempting to play her own story down). You feel like you are getting to know the Goldings throughout, and each difficulty and bereavement they experience hits you, too. As the book meanders through William Golding's life and soul, the sense of huge, inevitable loss approaching grows more and more palpable, and indeed I cried at the end, though I knew both what it would be and the details of it already.
In The Guardian's review snippet at the start of the book, Judy is quoted as saying 'one of the attractions for me in writing a memoir has been the tantilising prospect of bringing my father to life again.' The reviewer says simply 'the prospect is fulfilled', and I couldn't agree more. Judy Golding shows, with tenderness and flair, that a tale thought of as well-trodden is her own, and one deeper and more alive than than any casual knowledge could imagine. A richly important addition to the volume of work about William Golding, and so much more besides.
on 26 June 2015
Not surprisingly my interest in this book came from a fascination with the writings of William Golding and it certainly revealed a great deal about the complex personality who produced such imaginative works. The real surprise, though, came from the quality of Judy Golding's own writing. Her intelligent and sensitive account of her memories of family life is a literary achievement in its own right. It is beautifully constructed and paced and above all written with great honesty.
on 20 July 2013
His daughter Judy has paints a wonderful picture of this extremely complex man who was her father. Not planned as a biography, the book tells the tale of the Golding family and friends, that portrays vividly the persona of one of our great authors. This is a book for everyone, not just Golding fans, but for all who might have just the slightest interest in literature and the characters that populate that landscape. I was taught by William Golding, it was different from the 'traditional', but then this book shows the why and how.
In addition Judy's style almost makes me say, "it's a darn good read". Thoroughly recommended.
on 2 May 2013
This is an engaging and moving account of the fall-out from creative focus. William Golding comes across as all too human, and driven as a writer, to be a consistent parent. The hazards of obsession result in near disaster in more ways than one, but the writing is sensitive , humorous and caring. Judy Golding manages to balance the perceptions of a confused child with the clear vision of the adult narrator, drawing the veil from the public man to reveal the complex personality beneath, in love with a remarkable woman, who reciprocates and supports both man and writer. The children somehow survive between the feet of this literary colossus.
on 17 March 2013
It encouraged me to take a trip to Marlborough to explore the setting. I do not often read biographies but this may well change now and I may well read a few more W.G books. Thanks. jjd