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Amaryllis’ Maternal Instinct

Last Sunday was of course Mother’s Day, another of those horrid exclusive celebrations for the smug.
Anyway, my son was working and my younger daughter didn’t think it was worth the trip back from the States, so it was left to my middle daughter to make my day. We decided to see a film together and she insisted that which film was solely my choice. I looked at the listings feeling sure that the cinemas would have made a special effort to show something out the ordinary: perhaps Mildred Pierce with the wonderful Joan Crawford slaving away and sacrificing everything for her spoilt, selfish daughter; or Gypsy with the wonderful Rosalind Russell doing her best to make her daughter the best stripper ever, only to be cast off with a flea in her ear by her ungrateful daughter. But – nothing, just the same old things about wolf men and lego batmen etc and I am not sure that my son had me in mind when he effused about them in such a glowing, reverential voice.
But undeterred, I decided upon Elle as I had wanted to see it for a while. So off we tripped to the cinema and it was a disturbing and unsettling treat. However, when we came out and I asked my daughter what she had thought, she replied vehemently that it was one of the worst, most violent films she had ever seen thereby implying major maternal misconduct. I asked what she would have preferred, Beauty and the Beast’ (mockingly). Of course she would have, but selflessly (and luckily for me) she had made no mention of her preference. So that was a fun day and a good reason for taking absolutely no notice of such days in the future. Next time, I thought we’d see The Handmaiden, a south Korean erotic, psychological thriller… [T writes – based on the wonderful English novel Fingersmith, in case you thought A was going too far off-piste]  
On Tuesday, same daughter (still a bit rankled) and I met my parents and went to Regent’s Park on a beautiful spring day. I hadn’t visited the Park for a long while and it was very beautiful and quite quiet probably because the only locals would be those living in the ornate John Nash terraces that surround the Park and a lot of these houses aren’t homes any more but bank accounts. Apparently one man has bought three of these houses to knock into one dwelling, 10 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms obviously way too few for today’s householder. Not content with the space offered by 3 enormous houses, there are plans for a basement… Anyway, I tried not to let my bitterness and anger at such vulgar greed cloud our day and was soon cheered up by a sight of the penguins by peering over the fence into London Zoo. Or would have done if before mentioned daughter hadn’t kept muttering darkly about animals in zoos…
My read of this week and it has been a slow week because it is a rather big book but do not be put off! It is so worth the read and could be a good one for anyone thinking of buying 3 houses to turn into one and then not live in it… It is The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow and is the story of a mother with 5 children who has to follow her husband to Detroit during the second world war leaving behind her dreams of a self-sufficient farming life in Kentucky. The description of life in a prefab house in Detroit as it churns out steel to support the war effort is desperate and visceral as is the struggle of Gertie, the large and unlovely heroine, to adapt or die. To be honest, I wasn’t immediately gripped and even put it down but now just over half-way through I can barely put it down and it is constantly with me.

About Amaryllis


Amaryllis is our bookshop blogger.


Her pen name is taken from Alice Thomas Ellis’ Other Side of the Fire, which is unfortunately and scandalously out of print. One of the funniest bits in the book is the bodice-ripper that one of the characters is writing and the female - who slays the men with one toss of her raven locks and one glance from her fiery green eyes as she strides among the glens, faithful wolfhound by her side - is Amaryllis! And the name just seemed to suit so here we are.

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