My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Most everyone thinks the relationship between Edina Monsoon and her daughter, Saffy, is quite funny. Of course that's television, "Absolutely Fabulous", to be exact. But imagine if you really were Saffy, and your mother was constantly drunk, raising you in spite of ignoring you, and constantly inviting strange people into your home. A life filled with stability and rules might actually seem attractive, and not as perverse and rigid as Edina makes Saffy feel. This, in essence, is the life that Laurel Saville lived with her mother. This comparison is not meant to minimize the mother/daughter relationship between Saville and her mother, Anne Ford. It is noted, however, that through, or because of her mother, Laurel Saville truly lived the life of the 60s free spirit, an ersatz hippie lifestyle of love ins, happenings, and beach living. What is so often romanticized by those who lived this life as adults, or those who wish that they had been there, is proven by Saville that, for a child, the alarming lack of structure is really not conducive to a strong, healthy parental bond, or a safe and secure home life. Certainly there are those children who, like weeds, are able to thrive in any environment, but Saville documents her story as that of a lonely, serious child who loved her mother, yet never understood her. Nor was she understood by her mother. Unraveling Anne allows Saville the opportunity to step back through time, to remember her feelings, examine her memories, and seek to gain understanding of what drove her mother's self-destructive behavior and lifestyle to the extent that her mother's life ends with her rape and murder at a relatively young age. Saville doesn't seek to blame, but only to understand, and she is left with many unanswered questions and missed opportunities. As she is only seeking enlightenment, she comes away with a better understanding of what missteps her mother took that prompted her decisions, and caused her mother to turn out as she did. What is missing from this book, and this may be due to requests from her brothers, is any explanation of where they are now, and how they are attempting to heal any emotional scars left by their upbringing. It is apparent that she is holding some things back, but Saville reveals as much as she can allow which one can tell is not the entire story, but we are left with enough of her poignant tale to understand where she is coming from.
View all my reviews