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All My Mothers: The heart-breaking new novel from the author of the Costa-shortlisted debut, THE OTHER HALF OF AUGUSTA HOPE

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This book, this book is immense. We are following the story of Eva, from her first memories as a four year old starting school and making a best friend, all the way through to adulthood. We see her at her best and her worst, at her highs and lows. This book doesn't pull it's punches. What can I tell you about this novel, about the pain of searching for truth, about wondering who your parents really are and why you did not grow up with them? Or about growing up in a dysfunctional home, where truth is hidden (or ignored)? Eva’s journey is challenging and complicated. She observes (and experiences) different models of mothering during her quest. This is a novel about life, about belonging, and about mothering. Along the way, Eva meets several women who will have an important influence on her life. Not all are positive.

From a young age, Eva Martinez-Green feels distanced from her mother, not helped by the fact when she is asked to bring in a baby photo to school, she is told by the woman she suspects is not actually her mother her baby photos were stolen. In fact, the earliest photos they have are when she was three and a half years old. Guided by a book they’re reading at school and her newfound friendship with Bridget Blume, Eva begins her quest to understand her beginnings and where she came from. At it's heart, it is a coming of age story. But it's so much more than that. It's about the circular nature of life, it's about how disappointments come but also wonderful things, but mostly it's about girls and women and mothers, and the wonderful relationships between them all. Manuela discovers that her ex-husband, born Esteban but calling himself Lola after becoming a transvestite prostitute, has stolen Agrado’s savings and left an idealistic nun, Rosa (Penélope Cruz), pregnant and HIV-positive. Manuela cares for both of them and, meanwhile, becomes the assistant to Huma, whose stage name (a feminised version of the Spanish for “smoke”) derives from having taken up cigarettes in imitation of her idol, Bette Davis. When Huma’s drug-addicted lover is unfit to play Stella in Streetcar, Manuela steps in, identifying passionately with the role. Asked if she can act, she replies: “I can lie very well and I’m used to improvising.” Inevitably, she’s accused of behaving like Anne Baxter in All About Eve. From the start of his career in the early 1980s, Pedro Almodóvar has been fascinated by the Spanish obsession with love and death, with his countrymen’s taste for histrionics and emotional extremes, and the traditional rigidity of sexual identity. But until the past couple of years, I found his films, brilliantly crafted as they are, tiresomely camp. Until Live Flesh (1997), which I consider a minor masterpiece, the only film of his I’d really admired was the 1986 Matador, a schematic thriller about a repressed mother’s boy who wants to become a bullfighter, though he can’t stand the sight of blood, and confesses to murders he hasn’t committed to prove his machismo. All About My Mother, which brought Almodóvar the Best Director award at Cannes and should have received the Palme d’Or, is his finest film to date.Manuela is an Argentine nurse who supervises donor organ transplants at Ramón y Cajal Hospital in Madrid. She is also a single mother to Esteban, a teenager who aspires to become a writer.

Eva’s search to find her “real mother” based on one photograph takes her to Córdoba in Spain. What a beautiful place!! The authors descriptions of Eva’s surroundings were perfect and have me longing to visit. When her parents’ relationship crumbles, Eva begins a journey to find these answers for herself. Her desire to discover where she belongs leads Eva on a journey spanning decades and continents – and, along the way, she meets women who challenge her idea of what a mother should be, and who will change her life forever… If you want a beautiful book about motherhood, all the dimensions of it from the POV of a daughter, this is delightful. The innocence of a child who doesn't understand why her mother's negligence and her father's abandonment. The loneliness and deseprate pursuit of validation and love of a teenager, and the understanding and resolution of adulthood. All of these eras painting a beautiufl and deep portrait of motherhood.One of those rarest of books: so beautiful I almost couldn’t bear it, and so moving I was reading through tears’ STACEY HALLS

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