The Three of Us: A Family Story

Julia Blackburn, Author Pantheon $26 (313p) ISBN 978-0-375-42474-8

English writer Blackburn (Daisy Bates in the Desert ) had two extraordinary parents, poet Thomas Blackburn and painter Rosalie de Meric. Her utterly doting father, who’d sit on the toilet seat and recite poetry with her when she bathed, eventually died of the alcohol and pill addictions that fueled his adult life. Both parents entertained long lists of lovers. After they separated, Julia (who was born in 1948) lived mostly with her mother, who painted heavily symbolic nudes and ethereal landscapes, and the young “boarders” her mother was forever trying to seduce. As Julia grew older, Rosalie worried that her pubescent daughter was becoming more enticing; enraged, she’d goad Julia into flirtations and then accuse her of spoiling Rosalie’s romances. Julia steered clear of most of her parents’ sexual nonsense, except for a significant affair with one of her mother’s ex-lovers that ended with his suicide. Using excerpts from her own journal, snippets from her mother’s papers and her father’s poetry, Julia gradually came to terms with something her father told her, that “we chose our parents” so “we must forgive them, if we are to forgive ourselves.” Her father wasn’t the problem—as bizarrely as he behaved, she’d never “felt threatened” by him. Instead, it’s her mother’s endless anger that’s the vortex of this strangely compelling memoir. (July)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 07/01/2008
Paperback - 313 pages - 978-0-307-27893-7
Open Ebook - 264 pages - 978-0-307-37762-3
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