Pieces of Molly: An Ordinary Life
Published by Karnac 2014
An April 2016 review from the Journal of Child Psychotherapy:
'A rich and joyous read...a rare beast... a rare, possibly unique, first person child's eye perspective .. should be required reading for anyone wanting to understand children's minds - Read it and read it again. Give it to your friends and colleagues'
I feel humbled that the book has touched so many people both within and beyond our profession, see other recommendations on the Amazon wesbite
Other comments on Pieces of Molly
'The book has a generosity of imagery and a range of allusion'
'You have reviews and recommendations that most poets would die for'
Jane Draycott, poet, winner of the Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry 2002, shortlisted for the T.S.Eliot Prize 2009 for her third collection Over
'The writing is sublime and the observation astonishingly rich,
Heaney-esque even. I hope it will be submitted for literary awards.'
Richard Meier, poet, author of Misadventure, & winner of Picador's Poetry Award 2010
'I've just finished 'Pieces of Molly', and have read it with great enjoyment and admiration. It's so well written, not just at the level of the sentences, but in the way the perspective shifts. It's constantly engaging. It's also very evocative for me. Having grown up in the same period, though in a different setting (London suburbs), so much of what she describes is familiar - both the world of things, and the way relationships were handled (by silence).
Carole Satyamurti, poet and sociologist.
'A subtle and allusive picture of an uneasy childhood, a troublesome mother, and a rural England that has long since vanished'
Al Alvarez, writer and critic.
'I couldn't put it down. This book conveys the rush of time in a post-mid-life period where we feel so much closer to the meaning of our parents' lives – So poignant, unsentimental and authentic'
Valerie Sinason, poet and psychoanalyst
'Written with lovely clarity'
Ian Jack, ex Granta editor and journalist
'In Pieces of Molly Judith Gurney has written a new kind of memoir. The author has an extraordinary capacity to combine the inward , phantasising mind of the infant and growing child, with the larger world around it. As an adult looking back, Judith Gurney remembers a myriad of period details which impinged on her as she was growing – the kind of details which would be familiar to others who grew up during the era. There is brilliance in the way that this feat is achieved; the narrative darts to and fro, from self to world and vice versa, like a small fish through an opening in a coral reef the prose is lyrical, poetic and close to the Bloomsbury novelistic genre. It can read as a highly expressive novel, but the reader is reminded that 'it really happened'.
This is hardly all there is in the memoir, which apart from anything else is quite a page turner. I am so glad I read it – for me it stood out from other contemporary writings by virtue of not being laboriously researched and manufactured. Read it if you can, and you might find it as enriching as I did'.
Dr Meira Likierman, psychoanalyst and writer
'I was astonished at the work of memory--which of course as Edwards indicates is the continual recharging of fictions upon fictions over so called concrete images--the narrative is a marvellous journey of accretions--but HOW she remembered the detail, as it seemed, of so much--or at least gives the sense of so much of a real place people and time and yet also the distance created by suffering that cannot wholly go back to any real pain--the trauma of that being wonderfully conveyed in the tapestry metaphor throughout. What a work it is--so close to the self and yet able to be fixed outside of the self in great writing. I find it hard to give a full appreciation of what Edwards has done.'
Helen Taylor Robinson, psychoanalyst and adviser on the film 'Shock Head Soul'
'I felt immediately drawn to this story because of my deep attachment to the East Anglian coast. It must have been an extraordinary experience for the author to rework such profound events in writing. This process of thinking over one's life takes a life-time-however intensely it was lived at the time, it seems to me.'
Margaret Rustin, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Tavistock Clinic
'A most remarkable piece of writing'
Christoph Hering, psychoanalyst
'I found this book to be really moving, evocative and fascinating, a great gift to have given to its readers'
Graham Music, adult and child analyst, author of Nurturing Natures and The Good Life (2014)
'Pieces of Molly is a beautifully crafted book that charts with disturbing realism the chequered emotional life of a young girl growing up on a farm in the East of England just after the War. Edwards uses her masterly command of language and allusion to gently unfold the story of Molly's complicated and difficult childhood, neatly casting the story in the guise of restoring a tapestry to represent both Gurney's word-weaving and Molly as the weaver of her life story - a girl who tries to patch up something that has broken. Edwards' writing successfully and movingly penetrates the feeling world of young Molly, bringing to mind Oscar in The Tin Drum and Christopher John Francis Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.'
Mick Megee, education consultant
'This book is wonderfully written, and so vividly evokes childhood that I found myself compelled and utterly gripped. The evoked journey continues, long after the book has been put down. Read it, don't be surprised if you miss your stop while exploring memory, and enjoy the ride.'
Vic Roberts, charity fundraiser, San Francisco
'This book is unputdownable. It's a really remarkable autobiography, with a unique voice. "Limpid", "evocative", "effortless" are adjectives that spring to mind, with none of the "look at me writing" prose which so often irritates in highly descriptive writing. For example, although descriptions of harvests abound in literature, Judith's evocation of a Norfolk harvest in the 1950s is fresh, pictorial and original....it lives in the memory weeks after reading it. This may be the best piece of writing to come out of East Anglia - let me hazard a guess - for at least a decade.
Although in many ways idyllic, Judith Edwards' childhood was blighted by an overbearing and un-affectionate mother. Some of the scenes of rejection had me literally gasping out loud. But Judith's voice is neither self-pitying nor bleating, poignantly echoing how the child had to accept her denatured mothering as a fact of life...while her mother set about denaturing the historic farmland around their house, turning it into hideous caravan parks. The book is rich with similar unspoken metaphor, which rightly makes it the basis of a powerful art-house movie script - made even more powerful by the fact that it appears to be authentically autobiographical.'
Tony Edwards, former BBC television director and journalist
'Pieces of Molly is a beautifully written book, vividly drawing the reader into the experience of a small child grappling with the realities of life as she grows up in rural England. It is heart-rending and impish by turns, full of spirit and courage. Molly's determination to thrive is inspiring and poignant.
Judith Gurney has an extraordinary capacity to evoke complex emotional states in the turn of a phrase. She has a mind which bounds with life and energy. I look forward to hearing her voice again – perhaps in the form of a novel, a medium in which I think she would excel.'
Anthea Gomez, Psychoanalyst and Musician
'I loved this childhood story, which moved me on many levels. The author cleverly transfers her psycho-analytical skills to her own childhood self. We see the complication of so many relationships and the sheer childhood determination to go on through life, however puzzling it all seems. I strongly identified with the rural Norfolk setting, the people who inhabit it and the childhood perceptions. The movement back and forth in time is original and brilliant; the writing sparkles. The presentation of the book and the comfortable print make for a most inviting effect. An excellent present for oneself or others, allowing us to better understand the impact we adults can have on a child, while at the same time connecting with the child in ourselves. It didn't leave me dry-eyed.'
Angela Fall, university lecturer emeritus, Lausanne