Anyone born after the nineteen seventies really needs to read this book to see how much attitudes have changed since the nineteen fifties. The author grew up in a family where love was in short supply. Her mother regarded her as a nuisance and while she had a good relationship with some of her brothers and sisters life during and after World War II was not easy. I find it really sad when someone was happier during the nine months she spent in hospital because of Diphtheria than she ever was at home.
The section of the book which is the real eye opener for anyone who did not grow up in the nineteen fifties is when the author became pregnant. Contraception was unreliable and difficult to obtain especially if you were not married and legal abortion was not available. I was born in the nineteen fifties and I remember the mother and baby homes where unmarried mothers went to have their babies and give them up for adoption. It was the worst thing that could happen to a young girl in that era - to become pregnant outside marriage. It was always the woman's fault. It was impossible for a woman on her own to claim any form of welfare payments - benefits were for men only.
The author through sheer grit and determination and the help of her older sister and to a certain extent her mother managed to keep her daughter. She was fortunate that she had understanding employers as well but what she did was very unusual then. Some people she came across didn't judge her but there were others who regarded her as the lowest of the low. When her daughter was a toddler she met the man she was to marry - partly because he seemed happy to accept her daughter. But that was the start of a nightmare for both the author and her daughter.
I found this book compelling reading. It tells a poignant story in a very simple way which gives it a much bigger impact than it might otherwise have had. The author freely admits she made mistakes in her life and that she would have done some things differently given a choice. Her relationship with her mother was always problematical but at least her mother did accept her granddaughter in the end and allowed her daughter to live at home with the baby.
This is far from being a misery memoir and I enjoyed reading it. I found it most interesting for its portrayal of the attitudes and way of life in the nineteen fifties.
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