Becoming My Mother's Daughter: A Story of Survival and Renewal tells the story of three generations of a Jewish Hungarian family whose fate has been inextricably bound up with the turbulent history of Europe, from the First World War through the Holocaust and the communist takeover after World War II, to the family's dramatic escape and emmigration to Canada. The emotional centre and narrative voice of the story belong to Eva, an artist, dreamer, and writer trying to work through her complex and deep relationship with her mother, whose portrait she cannot paint until she completes her journey through memory. The core of the book is Eva's riveting recollection of the last months of World War II in Budapest, seen through a child's eyes, and is reminiscent in its power of scenes in Joy Kogawa's Obasan. Exploring the bond between generations of mothers and daughters, the book illustrates the struggle between the need for independence and the search for continuity, the significant impact of childhood on adult life, the reshaping of personality in immigration, the importance of dreams in making us face reality, and the redemptive power of memory.
Illustrations by the author throughout the book, some in colour, enhance the story.
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Erika Gottlieb received visual art training in Budapest, Vienna, and Montreal, and her PhD in English literature at McGill. She taught at McGill, Concordia, and Dawson in Montreal and combined a career in visual arts, teaching, and writing. She is the author of three books of literary criticism, including Dystopian Fiction East and West: Universe of Terror and Trial (2003) and dozens of literary essays. Erika Gottlieb lived with her family in Toronto until her death in 2007.
The Bridge; The Maze; The Tunnel, 1913-1944; The Tunnel, 1944-1945; The Tunnel, 1952-1982; The Handbag.
In this deeply moving memoir, Erika Gottlieb--thinly veiled as her narrator Eva--evokes the trauma of her childhood and youth in Hungary during the Second World War, the miracle of her survival, and her triumphant emigration to Canada as a young woman. In writing of herself and probing her formative influences, Gottlieb also writes of her grandmother, her mother, and her two sisters. She weaves a compellingly honest narrative of three generations of women whose personal narratives inform and enrich one another. Eva's grief following the death of her beloved mother leads her to revisit painful wartime memories. As Eva finally realizes, reconciliation is made possible by the sustaining love of her mother--an inspiring and redemptive love that she bequeaths to her own children.''--Ruth Panofsky
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