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Nightshade Mother: A Disentangling

Nightshade Mother: A Disentangling by Gwyneth Lewis

In this extraordinary memoir, Gwyneth Lewis, the inaugural National Poet of Wales, recounts her toxic upbringing at the hands of her controlling, coercive mother. It is a book that Gwyneth has been preparing to write all her life, in diaries which she’s kept since childhood. In these journals, she interrogates the emotionally abusive mother/daughter relationship, in great pain but determined to find a way through.

The result is a book which Gwyneth co-writes with her younger self, an unexpected and life-saving dialogue through time. Metaphors of haunting intensity help her confront what happened to her; quotations from art and literature help to guide and steady her. Nightshade Mother is a book about the power of art, language and, ultimately about homecoming after a lifetime of exile from herself. It is a profoundly moving and beautiful work; questing, forgiving and loving in its approach.

‘An astonishing memoir… a triumph of tone and poise amidst so much disarray and confusion… It seems to me extraordinary that Gwyneth Lewis is more than able to write this unique version of the growth of the poet’s mind’.

Adam Phillips

‘In this unsparing memoir of a passionately controlling mother…, Gwyneth Lewis explores the nature of the damage done, the discovery of patchy but real vehicles of healing, the challenges of where and how to offer – or to postpone – forgiveness… It is a moving, difficult, and, ultimately, loving record, insisting on growing beyond both collusion and resentment’.

Rowan Williams

‘This is an extraordinary book: an anatomy of an abusive relationship, harrowing but leavened by love… It is, in the end, a story of healing. Inspirational’.

Tom Bullough

‘This book was dangerous to write and is troubling to read. …. She succeeds in negotiating a liberating truce with her deeply troubled past. And so this remarkable volume ends in cautious optimism with the rebirth of a person and of a writer.’

M Wynn Thomas