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She Left Me the Gun

Emma Brockes

She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me by Emma Brockes is the astonishing, intensely moving and beautifully told true story of dark family secrets and one woman’s search for the truth.

Format
Paperback
ISBN
9780571275854
Date Published
06.02.2014
Delivery
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Summary

“A beautiful, wise book. It deals with the some of the grimmest aspects of human experience, but it is also one of the most genuinely up-lifting works I have read in years. Emma Brockes’ superb, clear-eyed narration is an object lesson for any aspiring memoir-writer. She Left Me the Gun deserves to become a classic.” Zoe Heller

When Emma Brockes was ten years old, her mother said ‘One day I will tell you the story of my life and you will be amazed.’ Growing up in a tranquil English village, Emma knew very little of her mother’s life before her. She knew Paula had grown up in South Africa and had seven siblings. She had been told stories about deadly snakes and hailstones the size of golf balls. There was mention, once, of a trial. But most of the past was a mystery.

When her mother dies of cancer, Emma – by then a successful journalist at the Guardian – is free to investigate the untold story. Her search begins in the Colindale library but then takes her to South Africa, to the extended family she has never met and their accounts of a childhood so different to her own. She encounters versions of the life her mother chose to leave behind – and realises what a gift her mother gave her.

Part investigation, part travelogue, part elegy, She Left Me the Gun is a gripping, funny and clear-eyed account of a writer’s search for her mother’s story.

Critic Reviews

Brockes grabbed my heart - and, thanks to the grace of her buoyant wit and seriously generous humour, gave it back to me beautifully bruised. This is a story I'll never forget.

Andrea Ashworth
Critic Reviews

A beautiful, wise book. It deals with the some of the grimmest aspects of human experience, but it is also one of the most genuinely up-lifting works I have read in years. Emma Brockes' superb, clear-eyed narration is an object lesson for any aspiring memoir-writer. She Left Me the Gun deserves to become a classic.

Zoe Heller
Critic Reviews

This astonishing, unsettling book examines the relationship between knowledge and love. Vigorously unsentimental, deeply absorbing, and written with fierce wit, It is an unstinting look at what it means to be innocent, at any stage of life, and how obsessively we all seek and avoid the many faces of truth.

Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree
Critic Reviews

She Left Me the Gun is quite simply an extraordinary book. In the hands of any halfway decent author, this would be an incredible story: a mother with a mysterious South African past who arrived in England in her early twenties with a beautiful antique handgun and a mission to forget who she used to be. In the hands of a writer as gifted as Emma Brockes, it's basically the perfect memoir: a riveting, authentic tale elegantly told.

Viv Groskop, Sunday Telegraph
Critic Reviews

A beautifully written book which stirred a lot of memories about the death of my own mother and how I went searching for the truth about her after she died.

Blake Morrison
Critic Reviews

Emma Brockes sets out on a delicate journey to uncover a secret locked in the heart of her own family's darkness. A harrowing tale of murder and incest emerges, unfolding by stages in this utterly compelling psychological memoir.

John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
EmmaBrockes

Emma Brockes writes for the Guardian and contributes to The New York Times and The New Yorker. She is the winner of two British Press Awards (Young Journalist of the Year and Feature Writer Of the Year) and while at Oxford she won the Philip Geddes Memorial Prize for Journalism. Her last book, She Left Me The Gun, was the…

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