Hidden Lives

by Margaret Forster

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Featured image for Hidden Lives: A Family Memoir

When I grabbed this book from BookMooch I didn’t realise it was non fiction. I was expecting one of Forster’s novels which seem to revolve around the themes of mothers and daughters and dying. This memoir gives you an idea how Forster ended up concentrating on those themes as it looks into the lives of her mother and her grandmother before her. The book is always heading towards the inevitable conclusion that women’s lives have got better over the last century so the “plot” isn’t spoilt by the fact that you know the third generation is going to get away from the Carlisle council estate and become a famous writer.

This book had me totally hooked and I barely put it down from start to finish. What I found very well done is how convincingly the story has been told going forwards chronologically. When you look into family history you always know the end of the story before the beginning. Forster has managed to tell the early parts of her mother and grandmother’s lives without bringing in all the baggage form the ends of their lives.