Welcome to a new week. And what looks like is going to be a very cold week. I was a little bit jealous to see people having and enjoying some snow this past weekend. Winter has definitely shown it’s face. I wonder what the odds are of a white Christmas.
Thank you to @HelenNayls and @threadbooks_ for this advanced audio copy of My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me in return for an honest review. My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me was published on 25th November 2021 and you can get a copy here.
All mothers love their children and all mothers are good. Except for when they’re not and unfortunately for Helen Naylor, her mother was not good and did not do everything in her power to take care of her child.
Helen’s mother Elinor faked having chronic and debilitating illnesses for over thirty years. Up until ten years ago, Helen did not know they were fake and did all that she could to care for her mother even though she had a niggling feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
After Elinor passed away, Helen came into possession of her diaries and journals that spanned over fifty years. It was whilst reading these that Helen learnt that her childhood wasn’t quite as she remembered and that her mother had neglected and damaged her. This book is a telling of Helen unravelling the truth about her mother and herself.
General Thoughts 🤔
My goodness this book hit me right in the feels. I can only imagine how draining and yet empowering it must have been to write this memoir. Anyone that decides to write about their own life and difficult experiences is extremely brave in my opinion and I think that this author definitely falls into that camp.
I liked how the book went from Helen’s childhood, through to her adulthood and then looped back around to her childhood. I think all of us wear rose tinted glasses as children and genuinely think that our parents can do no wrong. It’s only as we turn into adults that sometimes we can look back and realise that we’re all human and parents make mistakes too. Elinor made some pretty big ones and I found it really interesting that it was only reading her diaries and journals that resurfaced some of those for Helen.
I massively sympathise with Helen and the decisions she must have had to face during her adulthood. As she progressed through life and started her own family, her mother regressed and went to bigger extremes to try and keep the attention focused on her. Helen was often in a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” situation. If in the same position, I predict that I would have felt very conscious about how my decisions would have looked to other people. If I were to prioritise my own children, then I look like I’m abandoning my mother. If I were to prioritise my mother, then will my children ultimately suffer?
Writing Style ✍️
I really liked that the author didn’t just write her own version of events, thoughts and feelings, but she included excerpts from her mother’s diaries and journals. They were inserted at the perfect moments and gave valuable insight into how Elinor’s mind worked. After reading the book, I’d be interested in reading more, but also appreciate that these are private and Helen Naylor may not want to share more than she already has. I’d also be interested to hear more from the perspective of some of Elinor’s friends that featured heavily in the book and played a large part in Elinor’s and Helen’s lives.
I listened to the audio book which was narrated by the author Helen Naylor which I personally think is a must for a memoir. There were parts where I could hear the emotion in Helen’s voice which broke my heart, listening to her go back to some of the most painful moments of her life.
Conclusion & Scoring 🎖️
I found this book heart breaking but I also found it quite inspiring. I think Helen Naylor is extremely brave to come out and share her story. If it means that just one person can recognise some of the behaviours in someone close to them, then it is one person that can be helped. I very much hope that writing this memoir was a cathartic experience for Helen and wish her all the best for the future.