WHO IS SYLVIA? by Lucy Freeman


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The field of mother-daughter relationships has received a great deal of attention lately, as psychiatric writer Lucy Freeman acknowledges freely in her preface; she claims Nancy Friday, Brooke Hayward, and Christina Crawford as inspirational sources. However, there seems to be a limited usefulness to this particular set of recollections; neither particularly sensational nor readily transferable in character, they smack more of Freudian therapy-in-a-can than of a genuine contribution to the field. The oldest of four children in a socially privileged background (confirmed by frequent name-dropping), Freeman felt unloved by mother Sylvia and spent years fighting her domination. Father, on the other hand, was a great favorite, despite the fact that he cheated shamelessly on his wife and eventually left her in order to marry his longtime mistress. There is something ludicrous about bemoaning the agony of an adolescent forced by her mother to wear long underwear to her first real social event--40 years ago; and the inclusion of fairly mundane family letters accentuates the self-preoccupation to the point of lost perspective. Freeman felt she had to be a ""man"" to avoid competing with Mother for Father's love; she idolized sports, became a reporter in the city room of the New York Times when women weren't commonplace there, suffered two disastrous marriages trying to duplicate the dominating/dominated relationship of her parents, had an abortion, and--well, found herself through therapy. The route is standard, the revelations predictable--a whole world can be constructed around one's inability to interpret ""the best fuck in the world"" in any manner other than ""sex with papa."" Perhaps Freeman has achieved peace this way, but not everyone will find her achievement enlightening.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1979
Publisher: Arbor House