Motherlands is a family saga about ‘the ties that strangle’. It is the story of three generations of women with deep roots in Liverpool; three of the many thousands of women who have had to leave behind their homelands and all they held dear.
It is the story of trauma and it is a story of loyalty; Margaret’s unquestioning loyalty to Ethel, her dysfunctional mother, and its impact on the daughter of the next generation, Maggie. Ethel is born into a deep-rooted and respected Liverpool family but suffers a series of distressing events including the early death of her mother, marital abuse, and war.
Ethel was forced into an early marriage, then she does the same thing to her daughter.
When Margaret’s marriage blows up across Canada and England, at an unconscious level, she becomes driven by shame; shame that is inflamed and compounded by her mother's impulsive act. From that moment, she puts on a brave face and covers up for her. All of this seeps into Margaret’s life, creating episodes of friction and stress. It damages her relationships with her children, most of all, her eldest daughter. The tragedy of it is, that Margaret continues to live her life suspended between high-alert and shutdown long after the crisis is past. In doing so, she alienates the very people she most seeks closeness with.
The fact that the family lives in transient, military environments—where they are often outsiders, where sexism prevails—heightens that pressure. On military communities a woman’s history can destroy her husband’s professional reputation too.
Maggie, the child most impacted—is now a castaway in Australia—and from this odyssey, she learns about loss, reconnection, resilience and compassion.
You'll have to read the book to find out how Margaret and Maggie confront the machinery Ethel set in motion.
A woman should always have her own money
-- Margaret Halstead Taylor née Ashworth, my great-grandmother
1872 -1910 Everton, Liverpool