Gillian Dooley reviews 'Only: A singular memoir' by Caroline Baum

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Only: A singular memoir' by Caroline Baum

Only: A singular memoir

by Caroline Baum

Allen & Unwin $32.99 pb, 384 pp, 9781760293970

Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department

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Some ‘only’ children have revelled in that status. Iris Murdoch called her family unit ‘a perfect trinity of love’. Caroline Baum sees her family less happily as a triangle: ‘There’s something uncomfortable about a triangle: it’s all elbows, suggesting awkward unease.’ We find out in the following 380-odd pages the whats and whys of this discomfort. Some of it is historical; perhaps most is historical. Her father came to England with the Kindertransport. Her French mother had an equally traumatic but more singular childhood. Both were deprived of a normal family life as children.

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Published in March 2017, no. 389

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