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A Woman on the Edge of Time: A Son's Search for His Mother

by Jeremy Gavron - £8.99  Scribe Publications (2016)
paperback    ISBN 13: 9781925228632 | ISBN 10: 1925228630

"Gavron has written a book as brave and honest as it is heart-stopping and gripping. With the meticulousness of a detective and the heart and soul of an abandoned son, he sets out to examine a family tragedy so raw and agonising that it is rarely talked, let alone written, about. I felt for him — and every man, woman and child in this book — whilst at the same time finding myself unable to put it down. Yes, you sense him stepping, with touching sensitivity, through some desperately painful (and potentially dangerous) territory. But if authors can’t write about the mysteries closest to their hearts, then what point is there, really, in memoir?"
(Julie Myerson)
It's 1965, and in Primrose Hill, north London, a beautiful young woman has just gassed herself to death, leaving behind a suicide note, two small children, and an about-to-be-published manuscript: The Captive Wife.
 
Like Sylvia Plath, who died in eerily similar circumstances two years earlier just two streets away, Hannah Gavron was a writer. But no one had ever imagined that she might take her own life. Bright, sophisticated, and swept up in the progressive politics of the 1960s, Hannah was a promising academic and the wife of a rising entrepreneur. Surrounded by success, she seemed to live a gilded life.
 
But there was another side to Hannah, as Jeremy Gavron's searching memoir of his mother reveals. Piecing together the events that led to his mother's suicide when he was just four, he discovers that Hannah's success came at a price, and that the pressures she faced as she carved out her place in a man's world may have contributed to her death. Searching for the mother who was never talked about as he grew up, he discovers letters, diaries, and photos that paint a picture of a brilliant but complex young woman grappling to find an outlet for her creativity, sexuality, and intelligence.
 
A Woman on the Edge of Time not only documents the too-short life of an extraordinary woman; it is a searching examination of the suffocating constrictions in place on intelligent, ambitious women in the middle of the twentieth century.

(Price & availability last checked: November 2016)

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In booklists: Suicide, Biography and Autobiography, Women's Biography and Autobiography, Mothers & Motherhood,
In categories: Health & Wellbeing, History & Biography, Feminism & Women, Children & Young People,

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