In the end, we'll all become stories - Margaret Atwood
Part One - Resistance
Part Two - Persistence
Part Three - Resilience
A saga in three parts, coming soon.
England, August 1950: The war is over. Then, a letter from Margaret's helicoptering mother, Ethel, does what the saturation bombing of Liverpool couldn’t do. It devastates two families and forces Margaret to leave for Canada – a second time. Unquestioning loyalty to her mother triggers events that breed secrets, family dysfunction, the displacement of military life. These catapult Ethel’s daughter Margaret and granddaughter Maggie from Liverpool to Canada to Australia.
In writing Motherlands, I wanted to explore intimate terrain. I wanted to tell the story of the trauma experienced by women and children as a consequence of unfair social structures, political upheaval and -- war. Men go to war. Men get the honours.
And what of the women? They deserve honours too; invisible, flawed women whose lives behind the scenes are sometimes painful, sometimes bitter-sweet — and often overlooked by history. I wanted to honour the courage and resilience they hand on to their families.
This saga moves across two oceans from the Liverpool dockyards, to armed forces bases in Canada and Germany and finally, to Australia. In researching this story, I discovered how a pattern of unseen injury and suffering had bruised my grandmother and mother. Yet they persisted. They kept their children alive and built lives. They sabotaged themselves, too, and their families -- often making life choices driven by trauma, long after the crises had passed.
Maggie, the child most impacted—is now a castaway in Australia—and from this odyssey, she learns about loss, reconnection, resilience and compassion.
Those who have read my story—women and men who were uprooted from their native lands—grip the pages, lean in and say, ‘This happened to me and my mother. You have been so brave to write about it’.
This narrative contributes another perspective to books like Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton, Maya Angelou’s Mom & Me & Mom, Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries, Corinne Jeffrey's Understanding Ursula trilogy and Kate Atkinsons’ Behind the Scenes at the Museum.
A woman should always have her own money
-- Margaret Halstead Taylor née Ashworth, my great-grandmother
1872 -1910 Everton, Liverpool
A personal and insightful story and one that resonates with us all when we contemplate the impacts that our grandmothers and mothers had on our own lives. Their personalities, their behaviours and their decisions, were all shaped by the cultural restrictions and traumatic incidents each one endured, and these influenced their strategies for survival. One would hope that our growing awareness of our own intergenerational trauma, will help us in our relationships with our own daughters
-Susan Coleman, Clinical Psychologist
RESISTANCE - Introduction
Excerpt on my blog.
We never think to connect our personal issue to what’s happened to our parents or grandparents. We’re now learning that traumas experienced by previous generations can be biologically inherited—Mark Wolynn, It Didn't Start with You
An anthology of stories through the eyes of women and girls.
Coming soon. Excerpt on my blog.
She remembered who she was, and the game changed—Lalah Deliah
TAKE-AWAY PIZZA IN ARNHEM LAND
A novella. Coming soon.
Three friends from vastly different cultures confront their demons in Australia's remote Arnhem Land.
You don't want me to talk about
Native titles process being for the white man
You don't want me to talk at all
Most of the time you have your 'exotic' pets
You want me to nod, smile, and listen to you
And it doesn't really matter if I don't hear you
You don't want me to talk about
How I have got a voice
And you don't listen
--Charmian Paperbark Green, from False Claims of Colonial Thieves, Charmian Paperbark Green and John Kinsella.