Thursday, June 21, 2012

Done: "Mothers and Daughters" by Rae Meadows

Done: Mothers and Daughters by Rae Meadows, 2011, 9780805093834.

Chick book?  Not, not exactly.  But, yeah. Meadows had thank yous to several people including fellow writing program Cheeseheads Susanna Daniel and Emma Straub.

Three generation story told across a century of time.  Each character told during a specific time of life.  Grandmother as an 11-year-old street urchin in (circa) 1900 NYC.  Mom as 70-something dying of cancer in 1999-or-so.  Granddaughter as 30-year-old helping her dying mom and, a year later, dealing with a 9-month-old daughter.

I'm not sure if there was an overarching point to the whole thing.  I suppose it is just how kids forget or do not realize the complex lives their parents live.  Grandmother never told her relatives she was given up by her mother in New York and sent out on a orphan train.  

Mom never expected to have daughter after already having a 10-year-old son.  Mom would likely have aborted except unable to find a place for the procedure in 1970 Chicago.  Mom had affair with married man after moving to Florida.  

Daughter did abort her first child when finding out the fetus would have [something I do not recall].  Daughter helped mom commit suicide with pills.  Daughter carries guilt while also adjusting to the emotional swings of early motherhood.

1.  The story of the grandmom, Iris, was most interesting.  Iris and her mother fled Iris's angry dad in Kentucky for NYC.  Iris's mom started hooking or mistressing upon arrival.  Iris's mom becomes opium junkie.  Iris loves her mother and wished her mother would straighten out.  Iris still chooses orphan train over going to home for kids.
2.  Daughter lives in Madison.  Much mention UW students and native WI students versus "Coasties".  How the Coasties are more refined and do not wear coats - implying that Coasties want to look good, to show off rather than be smart and stay warm.
3.  Gratuitous Madison weirdness and hippies.

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