Motherwell : A Girlhood

4.07 (1,204 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Raw, compelling, wise and tender' Dolly Alderton

'Motherwell is razor-sharp, fearless and wonderful' Adam Kay

'Utterly candid and staggeringly good, both as the history of a woman and the history of a place' India Knight

Just shy of 18, Deborah Orr left Motherwell - the town she both loved and hated - to go to university. It was a decision her mother railed against from the moment the idea was raised. Win had very little agency in the world, every choice was determined by the men in her life. And strangely, she wanted the same for her daughter. Attending university wasn't for the likes of the Orr family. Worse still, it would mean leaving Win behind - and Win wanted Deborah with her at all times, rather like she wanted her arm with her at all times. But while she managed to escape, Deborah's severing from her family was only superficial. She continued to travel back to Motherwell, fantasizing about the day that Win might come to accept her as good enough. Though of course it was never meant to be.

MOTHERWELL is a sharp, candid and often humorous memoir about the long shadow that can be cast when the core relationship in your life compromises every effort you make to become an individual. It is about what we inherit - the good and the very bad - and how a deeper understanding of the place and people you have come from can bring you towards redemption.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 142 x 220 x 30mm | 410g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1474611451
  • 9781474611459
  • 61,185

Review Text

Searching, truthful, shocking (and timely) . . . with a reporter's skill, she shows the interior life of her people. In the present climate, this book should be given out on the NHS . . . a masterpiece Andrew O'Hagan GUARDIAN
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Review quote

A complex study of a family, childhood, and a town transformed * THE ARTS DESK * Love and understanding triumph over the difficult and painful memories. It is disconcertingly honest and self-revealing. You are unlikely to forget it * THE SCOTSMAN * A remarkable memoir, the candour of it . . . Having grown up working-class in Scotland, there are a lot of resonances * THE i NEWSPAPER * Intense and moving * RED * [Orr's] masterpiece . . . the story of her family but also a social commentary of Britain . . . a fascinating look into the childhood of one of our most important journalists * EVENING STANDARD * Complex and moving, this is an honest take on the close ties that can bind, hold us back and also set us free * STYLIST - Best New Books of 2020 * Deborah's honest and fearless spirit shines throughout MOTHERWELL. Her many struggles are told with wit and candour, but above all there is so much love in this book -- COSEY FANNI TUTTI MOTHERWELL is a story about a girl, a family, a time, a place. But so much more. Fearlessly Deborah Orr works out how she was formed as she unpicks everyday dysfunction. Full of glinting pain, brilliant one liners and utter clarity, the sliver of ice in her heart melts. Sheer humanity shines out. I was astonished -- SUZANNE MOORE Honest, at times harsh, but also deeply tender and very funny - this is a beautifully written memoir. It's my generation so evoked many unwanted memories including the three-day-week, boiled to death veg and masturbating skinheads. A great read for 'Common People' like me -- KATHY BURKE Filled with observational brilliance and wit . . . beautiful. Brilliant . . . not just an intelligent and honest personal memoir, not just an examination of narcissism, interdependence and repression, but a conjuring of a time, a moment in British history, that may otherwise be lost entirely. It is also funny. As funny, it would seem from the obituaries, as the woman herself * DAILY TELEGRAPH * If you have or had a difficult mother this is the book for you. Difficult doesn't have to mean abusive. You can have a happy childhood with a mother who drives you mad -- LINDA GRANT A poignant, beautiful and all-too-topical memoir. With the skill, delicacy and sharp wit her many fans know and love, Deborah Orr tells her tale of childhood: of class and mobility, of self-love and self-loathing, of dissatisfied mother and clever daughter, and of the dangerous, complex sacrifices which opportunity demands from a girl on the move in the late twentieth century. Are you a mother? Do/did you have a mother? Read it -- LOUISA YOUNG Utterly candid and staggeringly good, both as the history of a woman and the history of a place -- INDIA KNIGHT Crammed with wit and intelligence . . . a clever, meticulous and intricate work. Although heart-rending at times, it is also surprisingly funny . . . has a generosity of tone that means as you read it you experience sudden flashes from your own past: slights, plights, triumphs, mad asides * THE FINANCIAL TIMES * A fierce and tender reckoning: personal, political, and blazing with truth -- MELISSA HARRISON An outstanding memoir . . . The writing is powerful and muscular; the bitterness raw and furious . . . as a legacy, this book will stand at least as long as Ravenscraig * SPECTATOR * MOTHERWELL is razor-sharp, fearless and wonderful -- ADAM KAY Raw, compelling, wise and tender -- DOLLY ALDERTON Sharply intelligent and utterly unsentimental, MOTHERWELL is a fitting legacy left by a blazing talent * OBSERVER * Searching, truthful, shocking (and timely) . . . with a reporter's skill, she shows the interior life of her people. In the present climate, this book should be given out on the NHS . . . a masterpiece -- Andrew O'Hagan * GUARDIAN *
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About Deborah Orr

DEBORAH ORR was an award-winning journalist, whose work regularly appeared in the Guardian, the Independent, the Sunday Times and in many magazines including Vogue, Grazia and Marie Claire. She was a contributing editor to Another Magazine and was the first female editor of the Guardian's Weekend Magazine at the age of thirty. Deborah was a co-creator of 'Enquirer', a play commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland, performed in London, Glasgow and Belfast, broadcast by Radio 4 and shortlisted for new play of the year in the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland.
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Rating details

1,204 ratings
4.07 out of 5 stars
5 37% (442)
4 41% (489)
3 17% (206)
2 4% (50)
1 1% (17)
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