Our Revolution: A Mother and Daughter at Midcentury

Honor Moore. Norton, $28.95 (464p) ISBN 978-0-393-08005-6
Poet and playwright Moore (The Bishop’s Daughter) pays tribute to her mother, Jenny, a social activist and writer who died from cancer in 1973 at age 50, in a touching but overlong memoir. Throughout, she examines Jenny’s emotionally turbulent life and strained marriage to Paul Moore Jr., a prominent bishop of the Episcopal Church, and explores the mother-daughter bond. Moore uses excerpts from her mother’s private papers to tell the story: “It was time to pull the pages of her writing from their cartons,” she says. “It was time to get to know my mother.” The narrative spans WWII, the postwar boom years, and the civil rights and women’s liberation movements, and covers Jenny’s domestic and professional lives and the births of her nine children; Paul’s religious career and the couple’s efforts to establish a diverse church; and Jenny’s late-in-life quest for independence after she became aware of Paul’s bisexuality (her mother never did “reveal those suspicions to any of her children.... I consider her heroic”). Moore writes about trying to get close to her busy mother, and speculates about why she had so many kids (“motherhood was an arena in which to excel as a competitor”). This is a languid document, at time overstuffed with detail, but one that nevertheless offers a poignant look at the complexities of motherhood and womanhood. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 11/19/2019
Release date: 03/10/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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