Mummy’s Legs by Kate Bingham
Set in an elegant townhouse in London and an old family farmhouse, this luminous, bitter-sweet novel by acclaimed poet Kate Bingham gives us the story of Sarah, who faces adult life in the aftermath of a turbulent, unconventional childhood. When we first meet Sarah she is ten years old, an only child struggling to make sense of an adult world in which nothing can be taken for granted. The pivotal force in Sarah's topsy-turvy household is her vulnerable mother, Catherine, whose mercurial moods command her daughter's full and constant attention. While Catherine lurches from crisis to crisis, Sarah becomes adept at picking up the pieces, learning to care for her mother as if their roles were reversed. As both of her parents seek comfort in extramarital affairs, Sarah treads lightly through a world of solitude and hushed disorder, one punctuated by muffled sobs, closed doors, and secretive departures. In the wake of family trauma, Sarah finds strength and relief in life's visceral diversions and the small distractions of childhood, discovering how to filter her world through the lens of the imagination.
At once devastating and humorous, melancholy and uplifting, "Mummy's Legs" is a powerful portrait of the conflicting emotions of childhood. With her wry sense of humanity and poet's eye for detail, Kate Bingham brings to life the resilient nature of a child's spirit and our awesome capacity to delight in life -- even in the midst of dire circumstances.