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Wootton, J. (2013). Pieces of Molly: An Ordinary Life (2012) by Judith Gurney, published by Matador. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 7(3):298-302.
(2013). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 7(3):298-302
Pieces of Molly: An Ordinary Life (2012) by Judith Gurney, published by Matador
Review by: Jenny Wootton
Pieces of Molly, is a memoir, an autobiographical narrative of “an ordinary life”. It features the first ten years of childhood reconstructed from memories, musings, and mysteries, presented in a series of chronologically organised essays, each a “piece” in its own right while being intimately connected by interwoven themes to the whole.
The narrative is presented in story form with each chapter having a synoptic heading reminiscent of eighteenth century literature and an extract from a guide to tapestry maintenance. These two motifs link past events in Molly's life with the on-going work of reconstruction and conservation which is the task of all storytellers. They also refer the reader to the symbolic meaning of the unwritten narrative which works unseen, like the backing of the tapestry. The story, like the eponymous Molly, is damaged, is in pieces, and requires holding together.
This then, is a complexnarrative which works simultaneously on several levels. It can be read simply as a drama set in the rural England of seventy years ago, or as a mystery, with Molly the recipient of a baleful inheritance and her parents the unwitting protagonists in a plot as twisted as a modern detective novel. At a deeper level, the memoir is an allegory: a journey from innocence, through sin, guilt, and understanding, towards a partial reconciliation. It is also a deeply reflective, developmental narrative, which will feel familiar to any who have spent time attempting to review a troubled past from the perspective of a differently organised present.
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