In 1984 two young mothers meet at a toddler group in Birmingham. As their friendship grows, they share with each other the difficulties and secrets in their lives:
Joanne, a sweet, shy girl, is increasingly afraid of her husband. The lively, promising man she married has become hostile and violent and she is too ashamed to tell anyone.
When her mother, Margaret is suddenly rushed into hospital, the bewildered family find that there are things about their mother of which they had no idea. Margaret was evacuated from Birmingham as a child and has spent years avoiding the pain of her childhood – but finds that you can’t run from the past forever.
Sooky, kind and good-natured, has already been through one disastrous marriage and is back at home living with her parents. But being ‘disgraced’ is not easy. Her mother, Meena, refuses to speak to Sooky. At first her silence seems like a punishment, but Sooky gradually realizes it contains emotions which are far more complicated and that her mother may need her help.
Meena has spent 20 years trying to fit in with life in Birmingham, and to deal with the conflicts within her between east and west, old ways and new. This is the story of two young women discovering the heartbreak of their mothers’ lives, and of how mothers create daughters – and learn from them.
Most people are familiar with the saying, 'the child is father of the man.' And so it goes for women too. I have three daughters and as they grow into adults I become more aware of how much I learn from them and how they shape me and my life as much as is true the other way round.
This is a story about mothers and daughters. It is also about the things that people carry with them from their past – memories which are happy, but also those that can be too painful to want to recall them, let alone talk about them. Many people and families were left with very painful memories after the Second World War and however old they may become, the grief will not necessarily leave them easily. Birmingham is also one of our many multi-cultural cities and many people coming to live there, both now and in the past have carried with them memories of places and events that are often locked deep inside them.
So, two mothers, two daughters, two cultures... From the Second World War to the 1980s – a good long read!