Book review: Mother of the Child: A Memoir within a Memoir

Poet Jill Forster's ode to a mother's love

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Jill Forster's latest book is a memoir within a memoir and an ode to mums everywhere.


Mother of the Child: A Memoir Within a Memoir is a tribute from a daughter to her mother and her enduring influence.

Poet and author Jill Forster's new book uses both poetry and prose to express the indelible mark her mother Heather made on her life.

The book uses recollections, family history and breathtaking lyricism to detail the many ways the mother helped to shape the child.

The book begins with recollections of family summers on the beach in the 1960s.

It explores how Heather helped sew the seeds of Jill's imagination by telling her the foam capped waves were white horses racing towards the shore.

In its opening pages, it describes a family getaway to a rustic beach side cabin, where water had to be boiled after being drawn from a rainwater tank.

The author uses her lyrical powers to describe the sights and smells in vivid detail, illustrating how Heather taught her children to appreciate simple pleasures.

It paints a picture of an idyllic family upbringing - a Mum who savoured in the chance to work in the garden and a Dad who loved to toil at the barbecue.

From helping the children press silk from silk worms, to helping disinfect and dress their wounds, it paints the picture of a nurturing and whole-hearted mother.

It also shares memories from the 60s which are bound to invoke nostalgic childhood memories and recollections of their own upbringings in senior readers.

But the book is not just a recollection of fond childhood memories, it is also an exploration of family history and personal tragedy.

It explores Heather's Celtic roots and recounts hardships endured by a young married couple living through World War II.

It explores Heather's son Graham's struggle with and death from lymphoma in the infancy of his adulthood.

It recounts the death of her eldest son John just short of his 50th birthday, the loss of her grandchild Victoria.

It examines the profound impact these personal tragedies had on her, drawing her deeper and deeper into her own world of loss and pain.

From fond childhood memories, to life's toughest times, the book is a tribute to not just one mother, but all mothers.

Despite its dark turns, at its heart it is an uplifting book about family, childhood and a mother and father who did the best they could with the cards they were dealt.

In Jill's own words -"That was my mother's gift to me - she allowed my childhood to be happy."

Mother of the Child by Jill Forster, RRP $24.95, ORiGiN IMPRiNT