Novel set mainly in Pisa
August 2021 – All My Mothers by Joanna Glen, CÓRDOBA
2nd August 2021
All My Mothers by Joanna Glen, coming of age novel mainly set in Córdoba.
Ah, isn’t it wonderful when a book crosses your path and it goes into your top reads – ever?! I can safely say this was a deliciously uplifting, perceptive and beguiling novel that kept me entertained throughout. It is sad, too, and there is a really heartfelt story of loss and a search for roots.
Eva is growing up with parents with whom she just doesn’t seem to bond – Dad is Spanish from Andalucía and Mum is a fragile, reclusive woman who has no motherly warmth. They simply don’t feel like her tribe and when she discovers a photo of herself as a child, with the head of the the female caregiver removed, she decides that she really needs to understand more about her heritage. Dad then abandons his little family and returns to his home country of Spain, leaving the two females floundering. Eva is firm friends with Bridget Blume and when Mum has to go away for treatment for her mental health issues, Eva feels privileged to spend time with the Bridget’s family, who are the polar opposite to her own – warm, bohemian and inclusive. It is a pretty carefree time for her. She relishes her stay with them and is distraught when she has to leave and return to the cold care of her mother.
She is driven to study in Córdoba, where she feels she belongs. Her father, she knows, is in the vicinity and there is a good chance she might bump into him, of course. And it is there that she starts her search for her childhood history. It is a convoluted path to uncovering the secrets that have permeated her life and consciousness, a preoccupation that consumes her. Knowing, for her, is the only way she can understand herself better and come to terms with being passed, as it seems, from pillar to post and being deprived of unquestioning, maternal love.
As a brilliant example of #literarytourism, I have now pencilled in a visit to Córodoba in May 2022, to explore the Fiesta de los Patios, I knew nothing of these beautiful, floral displays before reading this novel. As for the amazing cathedral/mosque of the city, where much of the novel is set, I can’t wait to see it for myself. You will also discover the meaning of “conviviencia” in Córodoba, when, in the Medieval period the city experienced an amazing uplift in culture and where many religions and ethnicities happily coexisted. Quite some learning from that period to be had in this day and age, I feel.
This is an exceptional novel and had me gripped from start to finish. In many ways it is about the circle of life, about identity, relationships and about family. And it is beautifully written, as you will also discover if you follow my recommendation. And just look at the wonderful book cover!
I hope you like this novel as much as I did.
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