Book: ‘Mother’s only Child’ by Anne Bennett

Anne Bennett is a writer with Irish roots, born in Birmingham, England. I got the book ‘Mother’s only Child’  when I was in France during my studies. It was there – on the window sill, in the pile of other abandoned books, already read by someone and left for other minds to wander.

‘Mother’s only Child’ by Anne Bennett

The book is about a young girl that “is forced to give up her true love and marry for security – except that it leads her to danger and heartbreak before she finds happiness.

Maria is a girl with a great talent for fabric design, and while the world becomes embroiled in war, all she can think of is her scholarship to the prestigious Grafton Academy. But then her father has a dreadful accident and her mother breaks down in guilt and grief. Maria, the only child, must care for them. Her hopes are dashed, not only of her career, but of marrying the one who’s loved her for years.

Reluctantly, Maria is driven into the arms of the supposedly reliable Barney. But he’s no such thing. The young couple have to leave their home in a hurry and settle in Birmingham, where Barney grows increasingly difficult and finally goes too far. A family crisis ensues but out of it comes the one thing Maria had given up hope of ever finding again.”

For start, I had to get used to the language and, I admit that initially I was hoping the book would give more information about the 2nd World War itself, instead it just slightly touching the topic. Nevertheless, the book gave so much information of the way of thinking during those years, the type of mindset people had, the way how society was built – roles and rights of man and woman, marriage and family… And that was something, with my mind and understanding, and the society I live in, that was really hard for my brain to digest. True, that still in nowadays there are many cultures, where women are treated worse than dogs, they are not seen as humans, not even talking about equal rights.

Although the book ended with ‘happily ever after’, the rest of the book seemed that it has all the possible tragedies and those all are happening just to one young woman, changing her whole life forever (though, not changing much of her humanity). While reading the book, I thought about three things: unpredictability, choice and talent.

First, it made me think how unpredictable life is. How one event can completely destroy our dreams and change our future plans. How one decision can drag us into misery. How untold issues can ruin the family…

The second thought was about choice – choice between self-respect and looking ‘right’ in the eyes of others. What is more important: making decisions, that are more important for your own good, health and safety or endure injustice so that others don’t think bad of you. Being the master of one’s own life or just a puppet for sake of others.

And the third – talent. How important it is to do what makes you happy. To do things that you are good at. To never forget your talents, because they may turn out to be the only lifebuoy in a sea of misery.

Some quotes from the book:

  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder […].
  • […] what can’t be cured must be endured.
  • It was circumstances that shaped people’s lives, and a person often had no control over those.
  • […] regret is wasted energy […].

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