Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
An Unfinished Portrait
A woman’s journey to understand the life of her mother – a life
of turmoil, transition and passion, set against the backdrop of mid-twentieth
Through a selection of photographs, a series of journeys and her
own memories, acclaimed memoirist Miriam Frank attempts to re-trace the path of
her mother, Käte. German-born Käte was forced into a life of transience:
leaving an increasingly right-wing Germany in the 1930s to find herself caught
in the Spanish Civil War, escaping to Vichy France, and then to Mexico, New
Zealand and finally England. As she navigated the horrors of twentieth-century
Europe, at times fighting for her very survival, the only constant in her life
was her small daughter, Miriam.
Miriam Frank tracks down the houses, landscapes and people that
populated Käte’s life, attempting to see the world through her mother’s eyes.
The story she tells is necessarily partial and personal, but through this
unfinished portrait, she comes to better understand her mother and their often
strained relationship. Through all this, Miriam navigates her own state of
transition, as she packs up her family home and moves to a new apartment on the
Thames, reflecting on a broken marriage, a grown-up family, and a distinguished
career, ready to face the next stage of life, whatever it holds.
tracing her mother’s journey, Miriam Frank’s moving and graceful memoir touches
on some of life’s largest questions: how we can ever really know those closest
to us and how to find home in a life of perpetual motion. Beautifully written
and full of subtle insight, An Unfinished Portrait is a reflection on
love and memory, mothers and daughters, and the things we must let go of to
make room for the new.