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ISBN: 978-1-78066-205-3Publisher: Pinter & Martin
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Author: Antonella Gambotto-BurkeForeword: Michel OdentPublished: July 2015Binding: paperbackFormat: 135 x 216 mmPages: 256Illustrations: nonePinter & Martin edition available: worldwide, excluding Australia/NZTranslation rights: the author
Also available from: Hive
See here for the London book launch on July 13th.
In her compelling and ground-breaking new book, Mama: Love, Motherhood and Revolution, Antonella Gambotto-Burke explores how motherhood and love are intrinsically linked to human well-being and how a lack of respect for maternal love is at the root of widespread dissatisfaction with modern life.
Part-memoir, part-philosophical call to arms, this is a brilliant, passionate and moving exploration of what it is to be a mother and wife in the twenty-first century. What does it mean to be intimate with those we love and what happens when we're not? How does motherhood tie into femininity, sexuality, status? How does society judge mothers and how does this influence them? How do working hours undermine our most important relationships? Why is our value system now exclusively achievement-based rather than based on intimacy? What is the future for our children and society in this increasingly functional culture devoid of emotion?
Antonella not only explores this terrain with the great visionaries of modern childcare, but reveals the joys, intimacies and elisions that led to her own metamorphosis: among them, her corrosive relationship with her own mother, her 32-year-old brother's suicide, the emotional and philosophical revolution triggered by the birth of her daughter, and the traumatic end of her ten-year marriage.
A beautifully eloquent and thought-provoking insight into the cultural significance of love and motherhood, Mama is unique in its scope, challenging our cultural capacity for intimacy. Why, Antonella asks, are we willingly forfeiting happiness in the pursuit of an ultimately meaningless ideal?
Reading Mama is like reading two interleaving books: one collection of vignettes painting a glorious picture of Antonella Gambotto-Burke's ineffable love for her daughter; and one collection of essays and interviews about parenting in the modern world. There is only the most tenuous connection between the two.Taking them separately, the vignettes form a profound tribute to love of her family, with whimsical stories of moments when her daughter has made her proud; but also dark tales of her own childhood, displaying a deep resentment of her own emotionally absent parents. The link between the two books, such as it is, is the attempt to explore and understand her own experiences of mothering and being mothered, in the context of the pressures of today's society. She has learned from her own mother that motherhood has little value in itself, and honestly reports on her realisation of the importance of the slow pace of parenting, that the little things: “kissing, nursing, coddling, caring,” (p60) are really not so little; and yet are perceived by society to be low priorities.The thesis of the second book is that this society is broken when it comes to parenthood, in that nobody other than a few select parents actually value or appreciate what parenting is, and how it works. This is supported with reference to literature, and interviews with a number of experts who generally make strong statements about how parents (as a generic group) are getting it wrong. Presumably excluding themselves, they largely see parents as a feckless, economically-driven crowd, so welded to their smartphones that they are unable and unwilling to give their children the proper amount of attention. This dysfunctionality is blamed for a range of social and mental health disorders from autism to AGB's brother's suicide. There is much handwringing over examples of parenting that have been witnessed by AGB and her interviewees.AGB is an intelligent writer, and she has had access to some big names in parenting and child psychology. Her feminism rings loud and clear through this book; this is her manifesto for a society that recognises the contribution of mothers. Without the anecdotal chapters, it would be a very earnest book, making some fairly controversial points. Perhaps controversy is necessary to kick-start this important conversation.
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1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
This book is an interesting collection of essays, memoir, and conversations with experts on the topic of motherhood and attachment. The contributors chosen are excellent, but I feel that the author sometimes doesn't appreciate what they are saying. For example she pooh-poohs Sheila Kitzinger's comments on the patriarchy, then goes on to present those ideas as her own later in the book. She also interjects with tenuous anecdotes from her own life. Her own contributions come together to tell a tragic story of the failure of attachment and love in her own life, and her devotion to her own daughter, and determination that she will not experience the same damage. A bittersweet collection.
I have mixed feelings about this book.On the one hand, I really like the authors passion and belief in the power and value of motherhood, and her love for her child is obvious to see in how she writes. She believes that we need to change how motherhood is viewed by society and that doing so will be hugely beneficial for our children. I admire her passion and belief in this, as I do feel that the value of motherhood is underestimated. On the other hand, there is a sense of judgement of those who experience motherhood differently. This may be a projection of my own experience of motherhood and the difficulties I have faced.I think, for me, this book made me think about how society views motherhood, and gave me a new perspective on my own personal experience of motherhood, a perspective which I think has positively impacted upon my relationship with my children and my self image, although I can't say I found myself in absolute agreement with the author at all times. The book is a collection of essays and interviews etc, which makes it quite nice and easy to pick up and read one essay, which is always a good thingOverall, I hoped to be more impressed with this book, but instead it hovers around "yeah. Its ok".
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