cover image Unfinished Woman: A Memoir

Unfinished Woman: A Memoir

Robyn Davidson. Bloomsbury, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-62040-162-0

Australian travel writer Davidson (Tracks) excavates her childhood, romantic life, and family traumas in this raw and thorny memoir. She begins with a recollection of her mother’s 1961 suicide and the fight the two got into that day, before doubling back to interrogate the notion that the argument and the suicide were connected at all. “My mother is as close to me, and as hidden from me, as my own face,” Davidson concludes. In another passage, she describes her family’s shared jokes as granting them “the illusion of unity, belying the fact that behind each set of eyes were barricaded hordes of strangers. But then any human head is a bedlam, if you care to look.” This self-awareness underpins Davidson’s unsparing ruminations on her tense relationship with her older sister, the friction in her parents’ marriage, and her own interpersonal struggles, including a “catastrophic love affair” while she was living in London in her late 30s. Her rueful tone and assertion that her fate often felt like “the playing out of forces [she] had no hand in” hit hard. It makes for painful yet cathartic reading. [em]Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Assoc. (Dec.) [/em]