Cowan debuts with an impressive memoir about the unearthing of her deceased mother's secret past and a generations-long cycle of family trauma. This frank account of a real-life Dickensian dystopia captivates at every turn
The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames is the gripping true story of a daughter's quest to find the truth about her mother's origins-and, in the process, come to terms with her own life and choices. As she uncovers an increasingly dramatic tale of abuse, escape, and recovery, Justine Cowan must grapple with her complex feelings about this woman who, as she comes to learn, never had a real childhood of her own. A riveting, heartbreaking, and ultimately healing journey of discovery
Page-turning and profoundly moving. Her meticulous research has uncovered a strand of British history and she brings it sharply and vividly to life through her personal quest.
In this moving story, Cowan painfully recalls the effect her mother's volatility had on her childhood in California, and how it led to estrangement in adulthood as her legal career developed and she left her mother behind. Yet, despite their broken relationship, upon Eileen's death Cowan found herself drawn to discovering her mother's past: a history that had remained entirely hidden to her until she read Eileen's memoir, which she had previously refused to open . . . This is a beautifully written and tender account of how a daughter came to a late understanding of her mother, and how she began to heal the wounds of all that had gone before
Part investigative journalism, part emotional excavation, this breathtaking and heartbreaking book tells the story of a daughter's need to understand her difficult mother. An unexpected and original addition to the mother/daughter memoir oeuvre, The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames is both moving and artful, rewarding its readers page after page
Well-researched and highly personal, the book presents a fascinating narrative tapestry that both informs and moves. A candidly illuminating debut memoir
An extraordinary memoir . . . Although telling a deeply personal story, Cowan painstakingly gathers her material as if assembling testimony for a day in court. She is also admirably honest about her fraught relationship with her mother . . . The result is this fascinating, moving book; part history of the Foundling Hospital and the development of child psychology, part Cowan's own story, and part that of Dorothy Soames (the name Cowan's mother was given at the hospital)