A.M. Homes: The Mistress’s Daughter

‘I grew up convinced that every family was better than mine. I grew up watching other families in awe, hardly able to bear the sensations, the nearly pornographic pleasure of witnessing such small intimacies. I would hover on the edge, knowing that however much they include you- invite you to dinner, take you on family trips- you are never official, you are always the friend, the first one left behind.’

 The Mistress’s daughter is a memoir written by A.M Homes, based on experiences of her own life. It tells the story of how she, being adopted, finally meets her biologic parents. I read this book because I remembered starting in it once, but not finishing it. I recalled I liked the book as far as I read it.

I should have remembered why I stopped reading. The Mistress’s daughter is enjoyable until about the middle of the book. From there on she goes on and on, introducing 20 new characters per page, who seem to disappear on the next page.  That’s why I had a rough time finishing the book.

As I said before the story is about how Homes meets her biological parents and starts a journey in which she discovers her family. When she meets her mother, she turns out to be very labile and dependent. Desperately in need for a mother of her own. Her father, Norman, is the opposite, for him it’s all business. They do a DNA-test to make shore there’s no question he is really her father. When the test comes out positive, the only thing he says is; ‘So, what are my responsibilities?’ Her mother, Ellen, turns in to a stalker, calling every night, demanding to meet Homes. Homes refuses and finds herself in the situation she always dreamed of, meeting her parents, but in turns out to be a nightmare.

A.M. Holmes, born in 1961, had a very hard time writing this book. She felt it was like picking a wound open over and over again. She said it took her years to write the book. It was finally published in 2007.

I was relieved when I finally finished the book. I really had a hard time starting again after I’d put the book away. The book exist of two parts; book one and book two. From the transition to book two, it went downhill. It was no longer a story being told. It was hard to follow, to keep track of who was who. Then Homes started writing about how she did not only search for the history of her biological parents, but also her adoptive parents, which made it even more incomprehensible.  It really doesn’t fit the start of the book which was actually really intriguing and well written. It made me think about family, what it would be like to be adopted and how your family is a part of who you are.

Marcelle Bartels V5E


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