AMERICAN DAUGHTER by Elizabeth Kendall

AMERICAN DAUGHTER

Discovering My Mother

KIRKUS REVIEW

The absorbing dual memoir of a daughter, who was born too late to be a housewife and her mother, who was born too soon to be a feminist.

Kendall (The Runaway Bride, 1990; Where She Danced, 1979), a dance critic and historian, here tells the story of her parents, her family, and (most importantly) her own attempts to follow in the footsteps, and avoid the missteps, of her foremothers. Born into an uppermiddle-class milieu of privilege and expectation in Depressionera St. Louis, Kendall’s Vassareducated mother married a Harvard grad and exMarine shortly after the war, and they soon began a family in earnest when Kendall was born in 1947. When the prewar, quasiaristocratic world that had produced and protected Kendall’s parents began to dissolve, Kendall found herself growing up in a realm that provided her with far more in the way of possibilities—and considerably less personal identity. As the tale progresses in its fluid advance, the mother senses and creates broader opportunities for herself and other women, the father drifts further away into a personal utopia of detachment, and the maturing narrator alternately outpaces and is outpaced by the mother’s strategies for living and loving. Although it takes a chapter or two of opacity to define the characters and outline the setting, the prose of this book (one worthy of a less generic title) soon clears into view as a personal history—as brisk and bracing as spring water. With fierce insight, and yet without abandoning the memoir’s basic posture, Kendall examines the particulars and generalities of her and her mother’s characters—representative women of two generations on the brink of radical change.

Using the best of her critical and scholarly faculties, Kendall achieves the alchemical: part family chronicle, part social history, and wholly transcendent intellectual memoir. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-679-45292-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2000




MORE BY ELIZABETH KENDALL

NonfictionBALANCHINE AND THE LOST MUSE by Elizabeth Kendall
by Elizabeth Kendall
NonfictionAUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A WARDROBE by Elizabeth Kendall
by Elizabeth Kendall

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionMEET ME AT EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE CLAIM by Lisa Scottoline
by Lisa Scottoline