Two thirds of the way into Lyndall Gordon’s part memoir, part maternal biography, there is an episode of profound risk to the self. At the age of twenty-four, having recently moved from Cape Town to New York, Gordon is being treated for post-partum depression. This is 1966. Electro-convulsive therapy seems not to have helped, and her psychiatrist is urging longer-term treatment in an asylum in order to turn her – so it seems to Gordon – into the self-sacrificing wife and mother her own mother had wished her to be. Her husband, who has hitherto supported Dr Kay, makes a sudden turn. ‘Do something with your life … I’ve always thought you could write biography.’
The biographer and her mother as secret sharers
DIVIDED LIVES: DREAMS OF A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER
Virago, $35 pb, 328 pp, 9781844088904
If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.
Dorothy Driver is Professor of English at the University of Adelaide.
By this contributor
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to email@example.com. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.