A Mother's Story
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A son’s loving and determined quest to discover the mother he never knew—the young woman who died, at 19, shortly after giving birth to her twin sons. Beyond these harsh and tragic facts, Peggy remained a mystery to novelist and memoirist Snyder (The Cliff Walk: A Memoir of a Lost Job and a Found Life, 1997, etc.) for nearly 50 years. Then, coming to terms with his father’s rapidly declining health and powers of memory, Snyder was gripped with an overpowering need to understand who his mother was. From photographs, conversations with relatives and friends, and some genuine detective work, this volume was born. It’s Snyder’s gift to his ailing father, to his mother (the girl his father loved), and to all people “in love, or out of it, or trying to stay in love” with the person they have pledged themselves to. It is, ultimately, a gift to himself—an urgent reminder of the need to cherish his own family. Re-creating one parent’s love story and discovering the inner life of a 19-year-old woman one never knew can be an intimidating task in the best of circumstances. Snyder faced additional obstacles. Peggy kept her feelings to herself, shared her father’s dark moods, and died of uncertain causes. By dint of careful research and plain good luck, Snyder discovers the true cause of his mother’s death—preeclampsia—and her fatal sacrifice in delivering her babies. By entering into his mother’s world with the eye of a writer and the determination of a man possessed, Snyder discovers the vulnerable young woman who found unquestioned love with his father. Of Time and Memory is not so much a biography as a “story.” One has to suspend disbelief when the narrative re-creates scenes that the author could only have invented, but then imagination must play a role in telling any love story. At his best, Snyder offers poignant glimpses into everyday family situations, reminding us of the love present in our own lives. A bittersweet story.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-40408-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999


NonfictionWALKING WITH JACK by Don J. Snyder
by Don J. Snyder
FictionWINTER DREAMS by Don J. Snyder
by Don J. Snyder
FictionFALLEN ANGEL by Don J. Snyder
by Don J. Snyder