A Mother's Story
HarperCollins, $32.99 pb, 336 pp, 9781460750551
I was halfway through A Mother's Story when my oldest daughter asked how I would review it. 'Will you talk about the writing, mum, or the content?' she said. 'You could bring personal experience into it because you are a mother too. You'll read it differently from me.'
Lily is fourteen. She is rarely interested in the same books as me and she has never asked about my writing. In fact, she can be comically dismissive. Last year, when her class was studying short stories, I told her that I had published a few of them myself. Did she want to read one? 'Not really,' she said.
But Lily wants to read this highly emotional book. She has already skimmed the text and the timeline, four pages that begins in 2001 when Rosie 'falls pregnant' to Greg Anderson and ends on 12 February 2014 when Anderson 'attends Luke's cricket training at Tyabb oval and kills him'. Why is Lily drawn to it? Fame is one reason. Like many teenagers, Lily enjoys celebrities. Rosie Batty is undoubtedly a celebrity, but the cause of her fame is unusual: her valiant motherhood. Batty's only child was murdered fifty metres away from her, but she has not curled up and died. She has kept going, refused to shut up. She suffers, but she is not a victim. Batty is comforting and terrifying. She is protector and avenger. Her maternal love is gigantic, big enough to embrace 'all the abused women and children out there'. She has moral authority and dignity.