It’s difficult to classify this book, it is part biography, part auto-biography, part investigative memoir and part mystery novel – no matter what category it falls under, it’s riveting and breathtaking.
Jeremy Gavron didn’t know his Mother, she committed suicide when he was four years old. Two years after Sylvia Plath, barely two blocks away, Hannah Gavron gassed herself at her friend’s flat, leaving behind a husband, two children, a yet to be published book and a bright future.
The family didn’t discuss Hannah after her death, Gavron’s Father attempted to remove any trace of Hannah’s existence, forcing him to search outside of the family for information about his Mother. As Gavron finds and meets more and more people from Hannah’s life, he learns about her intelligence, her winning smile, her captivating presence and her ambition. However, mixed in with her better traits he learns about some of her more questionable relationships, her impetuosity and her selfishness.
In Hannah we discover, with Gavron, a person who you are curious to know, intimidated by and, knowing the end of the story, so confused about how she chose to meet her end.
Not only is this a moving and absorbing read about a family’s pain, it is a fascinating look at pre second wave feminism society for a woman who is ambitious, intelligent and progressive. Carving her way through a decidedly male profession, Hannah gains her PhD in Sociology and writes a book called A Captive Wife, based on her original thesis, denied by her doctorate supervisor and continually not taken seriously.
As I read Jeremy Gavron’s final pages, in this moving dedication to his Mother, I was sat in a cafe, tears streaming down my face, touched by his devotion and love, by his determination to hear her story and to share her life with the world. This book is a son’s ultimate catharsis for a mother he lost, loved and learned from, even after her death.