Clearances : The book begins with a visit to the Durham town of her childhood in the north of England, to which the author returns in search of the boy who was her first hero, teacher, and bulwark against loneliness.
She writes about her education, that of a novelist and poet-to-be, in her battle to attend Oxford and benefit from it, interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, about serving as a driver in the Women's Royal Navy Service and living in postwar London, working in a series of jobs (for the BBC; as a secretary to an MP; as an advertising copywriter), about marrying an American lecturer and scholar. She writes of the sense of isolation that she felt as a single woman and that continued into her marriage, how her husband's life opened out, while hers did not; of their leaving London for post-war Berlin, then the United States, and Mexico; of their three children (she in charge of the house, just like the women she met in Mexico, the wives of Maine fishermen, and the middle-class women she teaches in New Jersey). And, finally, she writes of missing her country: its man-sized landscapes and the kindness and wit of its people.
Mairi MacInnes's book -- strong, reckoning, dear -- gives us the expectations, the successes and joy, the errors and failures, of her seventy years of life. It moves and charms as it illuminates the evens -- large and small -- of our time.
|Biography & Autobiography||Literary|