A poignant and humorous story that traces Elizabeth Lancaster's complex relationship with her eccentric mother, Ruth, intertwined with her own gradual acceptance of the illness that has stalked her for twenty years.
Growing up in a family of boys, Elizabeth struggles to maintain her independence in the face of her mother's intense love for her only daughter. But Elizabeth, determined to broaden her horizons, saves up for a one-way ticket to Europe. A decision to follow up on a mysterious telegram from Germany will put her life on an altered course.
It is while living in Berlin that she first experiences frightening neurological symptoms, but only years later in New York is the medical puzzle solved. While Elizabeth grapples with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, the relationship with Ruth becomes ever more complicated, with secrets having been kept on both sides.
Elizabeth Lancaster's memoir is the winner of the inaugural Finch Memoir Prize. Selected for its literary quality, Marzipan and Magnolias was applauded by the judges for the author's warm and humorous portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship.
'Elizabeth Lancaster has optimism, buoyancy and a sense of humour, as well as a strong appreciation of human foibles, including her own. This is an honest account of a difficult time, but told with a very light touch.'
- Jacqueline Kent, author and member of the Finch Memoir Prize judging panel
Elizabeth Lancaster began her working life as an occupational therapist in Sydney. In her mid-thirties, whilst living in the US with her husband and two children, her life took several unexpected turns. On a whim, and with a nudge from a friend, Elizabeth signed up for a writing course in New York. Fully immersing herself in it, she believed she was exactly where she was meant to be. The she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. These two things have always been inextricably linked for Elizabeth. Writing became an essential part of accepting her new reality. On returning to Australia, Elizabeth wrote on a freelance basis for some years before turning her attention to memoir. Her humorous and engaging stories of family and relationships, set against larger events, explore universal themes.