Showing 151 - 160 of 312 annotations tagged with the keyword "Mother-Daughter Relationship"

Midwives

Bohjalian, Christopher

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

In March, 1981, in Vermont, Charlotte Bedford goes into labor. She has decided to give birth at home with the help of a midwife, Sybil Danforth, but complications develop. Charlotte has a seizure, her heart stops, and she does not respond to CPR. The fetus is still alive, so Sybil delivers him successfully by Cesarean section, with a kitchen knife. But the bleeding when Sybil makes the incision convinces her assistant that the patient’s heart was still beating. She reports this to the police and Sybil is put on trial for involuntary manslaughter.

The story of the trial is told by Sybil’s daughter, Connie, fourteen years old at the time and now an obstetrician-gynecologist. The acquittal comes at a price: the midwife finds herself no longer capable of delivering babies, and both she and her daughter are given a new insight into the uncertainty which underlies so many of medical decisions. At the end of the novel we are left uncertain whether or not Charlotte was still alive when her baby was delivered.

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Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

Anne (Sarah Polley) is 23 years old, is married with two small daughters, lives in a trailer in her mother’s yard, and works as a nightshift cleaner. She is diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and told she has no more than three months to live. She decides to tell no one that she is dying and makes a list of things to do in the time she has left.

She records birthday messages for her daughters, looks for a new wife for her husband (Scott Speedman), explores her troubled relationship with her mother (Deborah Harry), and has an affair with a man she meets in a laundromat (Mark Ruffalo). The last stages of her illness and her death are not shown; the focus is on how she chooses to live a life that has a new shape, both curtailed and illuminated by the knowledge of how soon it will end.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This troubling narrative opens with, "They say you see your whole life pass in review the instant before you die. How would they know? If you die after the instant replay, you aren’t around to tell anyone anything" (120). The narrator, a newborn girl on her way down the garbage chute from the 10th floor of an apartment building, reflects on what might have been had she lived long enough to have experienced life.

The structure of the piece moves the reader from floors ten, nine, into the game of chance played with dice, to "The Floor of Facts." At this juncture, the newspaper account of the newborn dead in the trash is iterated in its cold truths. The narrator laments, "As grateful as I am to have my story made public you should be able to understand why I feel cheated, why the newspaper account is not enough, why I want my voice to be part of the record" (123). The narrator shifts gears and begins to explore what her life might have been had she lived beyond these few hours.

She enters a "Floor of Opinions," where her own beliefs must be voiced and for which there must be room on the "Floor of Facts." She speculates, based on the experiences of her socioeconomic--and possibly racial--situation, whether her death will serve any purpose. On the "Floor Of Wishes" she imagines things she would have likely loved, such as Christmas. From this point, the narrative, in quick and painful anecdotes, draws the reality of the powerlessness, the limitations of love, and the brutality suffered by those in the clutches of urban poverty. Then the narrator enters the garbage compactor at the bottom of the chute, inviting us all to join her "where the heart stops."

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The Lovely Bones

Sebold, Alice

Last Updated: Aug-30-2006
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Susie Salmon, fourteen years old, is raped, murdered, and dismembered by a serial killer who has moved into the neighbourhood. He disposes of her body in an old sinkhole. Susie is presumed dead when someone’s dog finds her elbow in a cornfield. The rest of her body is never discovered. This novel begins with the murder and follows Susie’s family and friends through the ten years after her death.

Her mother and father separate after he becomes obsessed with proving that Mr. Harvey is the culprit (he is, but evidence is hard to find) and she has an affair with the detective investigating the case. Susie’s sister, Lindsay, grows up as the one who has to stand in for two sisters, one present, one lost; her much-younger brother, Buckley, grows up as the one resenting his family’s dismemberment.

Susie’s schoolfriends grow, too: Ray Singh, who first kissed her, is an early suspect. He becomes a doctor. The sensitive, lesbian, Ruth Connors, is near the cornfield at the moment of Susie’s death and feels something she later realizes was Susie’s soul leaving. She becomes a feminist visionary and poet.

By the end, Susie’s parents have reconciled, Lindsay has married and had a child, and Mr. Harvey, the serial killer, has suffered a death perhaps accidental, certainly just. The strong interpersonal structures that develop after Susie’s death are the "lovely bones" of the title, the narrative rather than material remnants of Susie’s life.

What makes this novel more than an account of loss and grief and recovery (though it is a well-imagined account of this kind) is the fact that it is narrated entirely by Susie, from the perspective of heaven. Heaven is a place of possibility, limited only by the imagination and desires of the dead, and it is a place from which the living can be watched, their lives shared and, perhaps, very occasionally, influenced.

Susie suffers being excluded from her family, but her suffering, her voice implies, is tempered by an extraordinary serenity, a kind of calm that most clearly marks the difference between her condition and that of the living. At the end of the novel she briefly returns to the living, inhabiting Ruth’s body and, with Ray, redeeming and obliterating her own appalling first, lethal, sexual experience. After this she can leave off watching "Earth" all the time, as the horizons of heaven expand beyond those she has left behind.

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Loose Threads

Grover, Lorie Ann

Last Updated: Aug-30-2006
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

Kay, a 7th grader, lives with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She is particularly attached to her grandmother, who is diagnosed with breast cancer. Kay’s subsequent waves of response to Grandma Margie’s illness include denial, fear, withdrawal from friends, discovery of a new friend whose mother, it turns out, died of cancer, and discovery of new kinds of intimacy with her mother and great-grandmother. During the illness her grandmother teaches her to knit--one last gift before she dies. After her grandmother’s death, she finds herself a little more grown up, recognizing in herself some of her grandmother’s features and habits, and reclaiming her own life on new terms.

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Annotated by:
Donley, Carol

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A one-armed tramp, appropriately named "Mr. Shiftlet," walks up to a run-down farm where an old woman and her retarded daughter, Lucynell, are sitting on the front porch. Lucynell cannot talk. Mr. Shiftlet persuades the old woman to hire him for work around the farm and for repairing a car. She says she can feed him but not pay him. Over a period of a few weeks he repairs the car (which is what he really wants) and offers to marry Lucynell if her mother will give him some money.

After the wedding Mr. Shiftlet takes Lucynell on a honeymoon, but abandons her in a country diner the first day, claiming she’s a hitchhiker. As he drives towards Mobile, he picks up a boy and begins to lecture him about being good to his mother. The angry boy jumps out of the car, and Mr. Shiftlet prays that God will "break forth and wash the slime from this earth."

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Holiday

Porter, Katherine Anne

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The narrator needs a break from her unnamed troubles, so, on the recommendation of a friend, travels to a Texas farm to live with a German-American family for the month of March. The Muller extended family members are hard-working folk, at times gruff and laconic, but who clearly care for and love one another. The narrator is intrigued by the servant girl, Ottilie, who although disabled, disfigured and mute, cooks and serves meals for the twenty members of the household.

Ottilie later shows the narrator a photograph from her childhood, and the narrator (and reader) is startled to find out that not only was Ottilie a normal child, but she is also the eldest daughter of the matriarch and patriarch. Many of life’s milestones are encapsulated in the month, including a wedding, a birth, a natural disaster, and finally the death of Mother Muller. The family continues to ignore Ottilie and her suffering; in the end, only the narrator reaches out to aid Ottilie in her grief.

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Horizontal Woman

Berger, Suzanne

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Autobiography

Summary:

This book is an autobiographical account of an abrupt and painful injury that completely transforms the author’s life. Berger in 1985 was a healthy woman who enjoyed ice skating and canoeing, a published poet, wife, and mother of a toddler. She bent over one day to pick up her daughter and felt a tearing "within the thickness of flesh, moving in seconds across the base of the spine." No longer able to run, walk, or even sit, she is forced into a life spent lying down.

Hers is now a world of boundaries and barriers--physical, psychological, and societal. The book chronicles her struggle to parent her child (they make gingerbread creatures lying down on the kitchen floor), to relate to her husband (she has to deal with the constant feeling of being the recipient of his care), to live with pain, and to regain her mobility.

Because hers is not a visible injury and because she must frequently lie down in public places or use her carry-along lawn chair, she suffers the stares and scrutiny of people who cannot pigeon-hole her into a tidy handicapped-wheelchair category. After seven years of physical therapy (she calls her therapists "angels of attempted repair ") she is able to walk and drive, though she is still limited in activity and lives in fear of re-injury.

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The Honeyman Festival

Engel, Marian

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Hugely pregnant with her fourth child, Minn Burge, intelligent and frustrated mother of a four year-old girl and two year-old twins, prepares her vast but somewhat decrepit Toronto house for a party of film buffs and intellectuals. Her husband, Norman, is a foreign correspondent off on assignment in Katmandu--where, she believes, he is faithful, though surrounded by "amber and hairless women."

On the third floor of her Victorian home lives a small group of hippies. Against their lives and attitudes, she maps her own vagabond past, intimately connected to Europe and the much older but now deceased Honeyman, beatnik director of obscure films whose work is to celebrated that evening.

Through the lead up to and during the party, memories carry Minn back to vignettes of her home town origins, the strained relationship with her mother, the child-like goodness of cousin Annie (an adult trisomic), and the sexual awakening and loss she lived with Honeyman. Minn is tormented with the resentment and anger that she feels toward her husband and her much-loved babies--including the one in her belly--for the havoc they have brought upon her body and her mind.

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An Instance of the Fingerpost

Pears, Iain

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

A mystery, set in the seventeenth century and told by four different eye-witnesses, all men. Two are the views of fictitious characters, two are imputed to be real figures from the past. Beautiful, but poverty-stricken Sarah Blundy is accused of having killed a professor, only remotely connected to her. Each of the observers reasons his way to a position on her guilt or innocence based on their skewed observation of the events, and on their own assumptions about women, religion, and justice. Post-Cromwellian tensions between Catholics, Protestants, and Quakers are explored.

A manuscript by the Italian, Dr. Cola, constitutes the first account. In the thrall of medical science and the great Robert Boyle, Cola is cast as the true "inventor" of transfusion which is "stolen" by the real and vibrant Richard Lower, generally credited by historians with its first use in England. Cola attends Sarah’s ailing mother gratis and transfuses her with modest success.

The other three writers react to his version of the tale which they read in manuscript. The mad Jack Prescott is intent on exonerating his probably inexonerable father for misdeeds in the Civil War, while the uncharitable cryptographer, John Wallis, is intent on divining nothing but evil in the cryptic forms of women, Catholics, and foreigners. Their versions are wondrously convoluted attempts to keep the impossible within the realm of the plausible. Pears puts the truth (such as it is) in the words of the real antiquarian, Anthony Wood, who explains that a fingerpost--like a pathognomonic sign--points to the only solution possible.

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