Her Mother’s Daughter is a family saga which uses a dual time setting: 1980 and 1997.
The book opens with Josephine as she eagerly leaves her Irish home for the opportunities she hopes await her in London. At home she was expected to run the household and care for her siblings; London offers her freedom to live her own life. At times secrets from per past make her fearful, but she marries a man who adores her and they raise a family together.
In 1997 Josephine’s ten year old daughter, Clare, is looking forward to the summer holidays. She hopes a visit back to Ireland will cheer her mum up. We see how observant Clare is of her mother’s mood swings, drinking and her obsession with weight-loss. But when the trip to Ireland opens old wounds, family relationships are pushed to breaking point.
This is a book about abuse, both emotional and physical, and the long-term repercussions it can have on everyone involved. Children look to their parents as the providers, carers and protectors. Sadly, as in this case, many are let down by their parents.
The story is told through the eyes of Josephine and Clare. Clare’s part is written from the point of view of a child, with childish observations which make her character genuine. The style of narrative is factual, like many young children who ‘tell it’, with nothing held back. The down-side of this is that it takes the reader out of the book, making them a spectator, rather than being fully engaged with the storyline. I thought the quantity of this form of story-telling unusual in an adult book.
Josephine is less likeable than Clare, and harder to empathise with, but she is still portrayed well. She is the middle one in a three generation mother-daughter relationship. As patterns of behaviour are hinted at in Clare’s conduct, will the abusive cycles ever be broken?
Overall, this book is a fictional example of many a true tale of abuse within families. It is a sad fact that this happens, but it does.
View all my reviews on Goodreads
1980: Josephine flees her home in Ireland, hoping never to return. She starts a new, exciting life in London, but as much as she tries, she can’t quite leave the trauma of her childhood behind.
Seventeen years and two children later, Josephine gets a call from her sister to tell her that their mother is dying and wants to see her – a summons she can’t refuse.
1997: Ten-year-old Clare is counting down to the summer holidays, when she is going to meet her grandparents in Ireland for the first time. She hopes this trip will put an end to her mum’s dark moods – and drinking.
But family secrets can’t stay buried forever and following revelations in Ireland, everything starts to unravel. Have Josephine and her daughter passed the point of no return?