She Left Me the Gun: My Mother's Life Before Me

3.38 avg rating
( 2,013 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780143125365: She Left Me the Gun: My Mother's Life Before Me

When Emma Brockes was ten years old, her mother said 'One day I will tell you the story of my life and you will be amazed.' Growing up in a tranquil English village, Emma knew very little of her mother's life before her. She knew Paula had grown up in South Africa and had seven siblings. She had been told stories about deadly snakes and hailstones the size of golf balls. There was mention, once, of a trial. But most of the past was a mystery.

When her mother dies of cancer, Emma - by then a successful journalist at the Guardian - is free to investigate the untold story. Her search begins in the Colindale library but then takes her to South Africa, to the extended family she has never met and their accounts of a childhood so different to her own.She encounters versions of the life her mother chose to leave behind - and realises what a gift her mother gave her.

Part investigation, part travelogue, part elegy, She Left Me the Gun is a gripping, funny and clear-eyed account of a writer's search for her mother's story.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

A beautiful, wise book. It deals with the some of the grimmest aspects of human experience, but it is also one of the most genuinely up-lifting works I have read in years. Emma Brockes' superb, clear-eyed narration is an object lesson for any aspiring memoir-writer. She Left Me the Gun deserves to become a classic. -- Zoe Heller This astonishing, unsettling book examines the relationship between knowledge and love. Vigorously unsentimental, deeply absorbing, and written with fierce wit, It is an unstinting look at what it means to be innocent, at any stage of life, and how obsessively we all seek and avoid the many faces of truth. -- Andrew Solomon Emma Brockes sets out on a delicate journey to uncover a secret locked in the heart of her own family's darkness. A harrowing tale of murder and incest emerges, unfolding by stages in this utterly compelling psychological memoir. -- John Berendt She Left Me the Gun is quite simply an extraordinary book. In the hands of any halfway decent author, this would be an incredible story: a mother with a mysterious South African past who arrived in England in her early twenties with a beautiful antique handgun and a mission to forget who she used to be. In the hands of a writer as gifted as Emma Brockes, it's basically the perfect memoir: a riveting, authentic tale elegantly told. -- Viv Groskop Sunday Telegraph [A] courageous, clear-sighted book, which shifts between memoir and elegy as it examines the persistence of family secrets and the fragile interface between innocence and knowledge. -- Elizabeth Lowry The Guardian In the wry, jaunty tone of this miscreant memoir there is positive resolution of past secrets and recovery of present relationships. -- Iain Finlayson The Times [T]his soul-searching tale is a shocking trail of murder, violence, incest and betrayal that leaves her both shocked and proud ... Emma Brockes writes with dry humour and a refreshing lack of sentiment as she unravels the complex family ties that have become twisted into a difficult and at times almost impenetrable web of hidden suffering. -- Viv Watts Daily Express This book is her mother's story but it's also about Brockes, a seasoned journalist, pursuing that story, and the process is gripping. Driven by a palpable mixture of reluctance and determination, Brockes interviews family members about intimacies and terrors, uncovering rifts, secrets and in-jokes. -- Daneet Steffens Independent on Sunday The resulting memoir is an exemplary family history and immensely brave. It is one thing to delve into dusty archives in Pretoria, "each page containing the split-second possibility of an explosion in my face", but quite another to sit with aunts and uncles you've never met ("a wacky bunch") and ask them to recall a childhood lived in fear and that was exposed in court ... Brockes's descriptions of South Africa and her newly discovered family (towards whom she is loyal and generously affectionate) are astute and, one feels, tempered by the tightly coiled wayward nature of the freshly grief-stricken. It makes the slow pace of the revelations all the more honourable and heartfelt. The result is a wise, tender letter of love to a mother and her incredible sense of love and -necessary self-sufficiency. -- Helen Davies Sunday Times An amazing and harrowing story. In Emma Brockes's consummate, Joan Didionesque prose, it becomes a surpassingly rich meditation on family, endurance, secrecy, trauma, guilt, strength and love ... Intensely personal, but it is also a beautifully written and, ultimately, a redemptive book: deeply impressive, deeply painful, deeply true. -- Kevin Power Sunday Business Post This is a poignant, often funny, love letter to Brockes' mother. -- Lee Randall The Scotsman The late Nora Ephron suggested the title for Emma Brockes' She Left Me the Gun. Ephron ... was as smart as they come in Hollywood and you only need to read the opening chapters to understand why she took such a close interest in the career of this remarkable young writer and Guardian journalist ... It isn't just the story itself that sets this book apart. Brockes's prose is potent enough to do justice to the power of her insights. And although she is very good at maintaining the tension in the detective part of the story, she has an even more important ability to keep up the emotional suspense. Ephron, her mentor, would have approved. -- Christena Appleyard Literary Review A tender, real-life story of dark family secrets and a daughter's search for the truth. Marie Claire

Book Description:

The astonishing, intensely moving and beautifully told true story of dark family secrets and one woman's search for the truth.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Brockes, Emma
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97801431253650000000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
8.43
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From U.S.A. to United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Brockes, Emma
Published by Penguin Books
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New Paperback / softback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
THE SAINT BOOKSTORE
(Southport, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books. Paperback / softback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, She Left Me the Gun: My Mother's Life Before Me, Emma Brockes. Bookseller Inventory # B9780143125365

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.32
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.75
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Brockes, Emma
Published by Penguin Books, United States (2014)
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 203 x 137 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. One of those memoirs that remind you why you liked memoirs in the first place. It has the density of a very good novel. As you do with the best writers, you feel lucky to be in Ms. Brockes s company. --Dwight Garner, The New York Times A chilling work of psychological suspense and forensic memoir, She Left Me the Gun is a tale of true transformation: the story of a young woman who reinvented herself so completely that her previous life seemed simply to vanish, and of a daughter who transcends her mother s fears and reclaims an abandoned past. One day I will tell you the story of my life, promises Emma Brockes s mother, and you will be amazed. Brockes grew up hearing only pieces of her mother s past--stories of a rustic childhood in South Africa, glimpses of a bohemian youth in London--and yet knew that crucial facts were still in the dark. A mystery to her friends and family, Paula was clearly a strong, self-invented woman; glamorous, no-nonsense, and frequently out of place in their quaint English village. In awe of Paula s larger-than-life personality, Brockes never asked why her mother emigrated to England or why she never returned to South Africa; never questioned the source of her mother s strange fears or tremendous strengths. Looking to unearth the truth after Paula s death, Brockes begins a dangerous journey into the land--and the life--her mother fled from years before. Brockes soon learns that Paula s father was a drunk megalomaniac who terrorized Paula and her seven half-siblings for years. After finally mustering the courage to take her father to court, Paula is horrified to see the malevolent man vindicated of all charges. As Brockes discovers, this crushing defeat left Paula with a choice: take her own life, or promise herself never to be intimidated or unhappy again. Ultimately she chooses life and happiness by booking one-way passage to London--but not before shooting her father five times, and failing to kill him. Smuggling the fateful gun through English customs would be Paula s first triumph in her new life. She Left Me the Gun carries Brockes to South Africa to meet her seven aunts and uncles, weighing their stories against her mother s silences. Brockes learns of the violent pathologies and racial propaganda in which her grandfather was inculcated, sees the mine shafts and train yards where he worked as an itinerant mechanic, and finds in buried government archives the court records proving his murder conviction years before he first married. Brockes also learns of the turncoat stepmother who may have perjured herself to save her husband, dooming Paula and her siblings to the machinations of their hated father. Most of all, She Left Me the Gun reveals how Paula reinvented herself to lead a full, happy life. As she follows her mother s footsteps back to South Africa, Brockes begins to find the wellsprings of her mother s strength, the tremendous endurance which allowed Paula to hide secrets from even her closest friends and family. But as the search through cherished letters and buried documents deepens, Brockes realizes with horror that her mother s great success as a parent was concealing her terrible past--and that unearthing these secrets threatens to undo her mother s work. A beguiling and unforgettable journey across generations and continents, She Left Me the Gun chronicles Brockes s efforts to walk the knife-edge between understanding her mother s unspeakable traumas and embracing the happiness she chose for her daughter. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780143125365

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
10.29
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Brockes, Emma
Published by Penguin Books, United States (2014)
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 203 x 137 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. One of those memoirs that remind you why you liked memoirs in the first place. It has the density of a very good novel. As you do with the best writers, you feel lucky to be in Ms. Brockes s company. --Dwight Garner, The New York Times A chilling work of psychological suspense and forensic memoir, She Left Me the Gun is a tale of true transformation: the story of a young woman who reinvented herself so completely that her previous life seemed simply to vanish, and of a daughter who transcends her mother s fears and reclaims an abandoned past. One day I will tell you the story of my life, promises Emma Brockes s mother, and you will be amazed. Brockes grew up hearing only pieces of her mother s past--stories of a rustic childhood in South Africa, glimpses of a bohemian youth in London--and yet knew that crucial facts were still in the dark. A mystery to her friends and family, Paula was clearly a strong, self-invented woman; glamorous, no-nonsense, and frequently out of place in their quaint English village. In awe of Paula s larger-than-life personality, Brockes never asked why her mother emigrated to England or why she never returned to South Africa; never questioned the source of her mother s strange fears or tremendous strengths. Looking to unearth the truth after Paula s death, Brockes begins a dangerous journey into the land--and the life--her mother fled from years before. Brockes soon learns that Paula s father was a drunk megalomaniac who terrorized Paula and her seven half-siblings for years. After finally mustering the courage to take her father to court, Paula is horrified to see the malevolent man vindicated of all charges. As Brockes discovers, this crushing defeat left Paula with a choice: take her own life, or promise herself never to be intimidated or unhappy again. Ultimately she chooses life and happiness by booking one-way passage to London--but not before shooting her father five times, and failing to kill him. Smuggling the fateful gun through English customs would be Paula s first triumph in her new life. She Left Me the Gun carries Brockes to South Africa to meet her seven aunts and uncles, weighing their stories against her mother s silences. Brockes learns of the violent pathologies and racial propaganda in which her grandfather was inculcated, sees the mine shafts and train yards where he worked as an itinerant mechanic, and finds in buried government archives the court records proving his murder conviction years before he first married. Brockes also learns of the turncoat stepmother who may have perjured herself to save her husband, dooming Paula and her siblings to the machinations of their hated father. Most of all, She Left Me the Gun reveals how Paula reinvented herself to lead a full, happy life. As she follows her mother s footsteps back to South Africa, Brockes begins to find the wellsprings of her mother s strength, the tremendous endurance which allowed Paula to hide secrets from even her closest friends and family. But as the search through cherished letters and buried documents deepens, Brockes realizes with horror that her mother s great success as a parent was concealing her terrible past--and that unearthing these secrets threatens to undo her mother s work. A beguiling and unforgettable journey across generations and continents, She Left Me the Gun chronicles Brockes s efforts to walk the knife-edge between understanding her mother s unspeakable traumas and embracing the happiness she chose for her daughter. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780143125365

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
10.57
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Brockes, Emma
Published by Penguin Books 2014-06-24 (2014)
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Blackwell's
(Oxford, OX, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books 2014-06-24, 2014. paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 9780143125365

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
11.45
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Brockes, Emma
Published by Penguin Books
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
GIANTBOOKSALE
(HAUPPAUGE, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0143125362 Great book !! Established seller with great ratings! A+ Customer Service! Orders ship from the USA!. Bookseller Inventory # Z0143125362ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
1.66
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 10.12
From U.S.A. to United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Brockes, Emma
Published by Penguin Books
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 3
Seller
Movie Mars
(Indian Trail, NC, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0143125362 Brand New Book. Ships from the United States. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee!. Bookseller Inventory # 16454848

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.76
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 7.70
From U.S.A. to United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Brockes, Emma
Published by Penguin Group USA (2014)
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New Paperback Quantity Available: 2
Seller
Revaluation Books
(Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Group USA, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. reprint edition. 298 pages. 8.00x5.25x0.75 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # z-0143125362

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
13.85
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.75
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Brockes, Emma
Published by Penguin (2014)
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin, 2014. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # TB9780143125365

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
13.33
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 4.32
From Germany to United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Brockes, Emma
Published by Penguin Random House
ISBN 10: 0143125362 ISBN 13: 9780143125365
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Random House. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0143125362

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.77
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 12.16
From U.S.A. to United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book