Silver River

Daisy Goodwin

What makes a woman leave her children? Sometimes you have to go back 150 years to find out…

Daisy Goodwin’s mother left home when Daisy was five and embarked upon a bohemian life in Swanage. Daisy was brought up by her respectable father and her meticulous German stepmother and adored her glamorous mother from afar. She made sense of her mother’s difference and of her absence through her imaginings about the family’s unstable South American history. It was only when Daisy underwent a deep depression following the birth of her own daughter, that she felt the weight of her mother’s abandonment and the burden of her family’s past take root in her own life.

Daisy’s family, on her mother’s side, is as eccentric and wayward as any family could be. Her Irish forebears – a Catholic and a Protestant – were driven from their southern Irish home and emigrated to Argentina. Their history there is one of vast wealth rapidly acquired and just as rapidly lost, of gambling, of horses, of suicides and breakdowns, of isolation in the bleak expanses of the Pampas and of the heights of high society. In this extraordinary memoir, the contrasts between Argentina and England serve as a metaphor for the clashes in the author’s life, caught between two parents, two countries and two cultures. Intensely personal, funny and unsentimental, ‘The Silver River’ explores universal questions about families, identity and growing up in a way that has never been done before.

Reviews of Silver River

    • ‘From the opening sentence of “Silver River”, it is clear that Daisy Goodwin can catch a reader by the throat…an intriguing memoir.’ Times Literary Supplement
    • ‘Goodwin, who threads her family saga with her own experience of near suicidal depression and her need to make sense of her mother’s decision to abandon her as a child, is a disarmingly skilful storyteller…A beautifully realised book, suspended delicately and precisely between memoir and magical realism.’ Sunday Times
    • ‘”Silver River” runs bright and clear, a quick and vital current of self–awareness by a natural storyteller who uses literary styles and devices with a deft hand. From the first terror of being dangled over a cliff by her father, greatly amusing her mother, to her depression and sense of abandonment after the birth of her daughter, Goodwin artfully integrates the disparate sections of her life, emerging whole and healed.’ The Times
    • ‘The story of generations of gambling and suicide on her mother’s side, all set out in sad and funny detail.’ Tatler
    • ‘In this memoir Daisy Goodwin brings an evocative touch…poetic reconstruction of the emotions that allowed [her ancestors] potential to be frittered away in gambling, polo and suicide.’ Independent

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