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While researching the story of a child from Regency England who painted an exquisite album of watercolors, novelist Julie Myerson is haunted by lost potential. Mary Yelloly, the young artist, died at twenty-two. Myerson is also reminded of her own child. Only days earlier, she and her husband locked their eldest son out of the house. He had discovered drugs, and it had taken only a few months for the once happy boy to propel his family into chaos. Julie tells his story with devastating candor, struggling to accept that she is powerless to bring her son back. While these two young lives―one cut short, one derailed―may be separated by centuries, they raise the same questions: What happens when a child disappears from a family? And how is a parent to cope when love is not enough?
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Julie Myerson is the author of seven novels, including Something Might Happen, and two works of nonfiction, including Home. She lives in London and Suffolk with her husband and teenage children.From Publishers Weekly:
In this difficult, unsettling memoir, English novelist (Sleepwalking) Myerson attempts a tricky bifurcated journey between two lives, past and present. Clearly, the author began with the intent of tracing the obscure life and work of a 19th-century artist, Mary Yelloly, who had once lived in Myerson's town of Suffolk and died of tuberculosis at age 21, in 1838. The author was given some of Yelloly's watercolors and proceeded to research the extended family as well as uncover where Mary was buried in the nearby Woodton churchyard. However, another life crisis pressed to the forefront: that of her oldest son, who at 17 began to exhibit bizarrely aggressive behavior from smoking cannabis, driving his parents to despair and the painful decision to kick him out of their home. Myerson's memoir, while erecting the elaborate and frequently tedious genealogy of the Yelloly and Suckling clans, on the one hand, is utterly overrun and undermined by the stunning cruelty of the very real teenager (e.g., selling drugs to his little brother, ignoring the pregnancy of his girlfriend, punching his mother), on the other. The whole effect of Victorian portraits and letters, details of the cringing servility with which Myerson and her husband deal with their son and memories of the author's own teenage rupture with her father makes for a surreally touching textual kaleidoscope. (Sept.)
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