The Mother Knot
By Kathryn Harrison
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812971507, 96pp.)
Publication Date: July 12, 2005
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In this dark gem of a book by the author of The Kiss, a complex mother-daughter relationship precipitates a journey through depression to greater understanding, acceptance, freedom, and love,.
Spare and unflinching, The Mother Knot is Kathryn Harrison’s courageous exploration of her painful feelings about her mother, and of her depression and recovery. Writer, wife, mother of three, Kathryn Harrison finds herself, at age forty-one, wrestling with a black, untamable force that seems to have the power to undermine her sanity and her safety, a darkness that is tied to her relationship with her own mother, dead for many years but no less a haunting presence. Shaken by a family emergency that reveals the fragility of her current happiness, Harrison falls prey to despair and anxiety she believed she’d overcome long before. A relapse of anorexia becomes the tangible reminder of a youth spent trying to achieve the perfection she had hoped would win her mother’s love, and forces her to confront, understand, and ultimately cast out—in startling physical form—the demons within herself. Powerful, insightful, unforgettable, by “a writer of extraordinary gifts” (Tobias Wolff), Kathryn Harrison’s The Mother Knot is a knockout.
KATHRYN HARRISON is the author of the novels The Seal Wife, The Binding Chair, Poison, Exposure, and Thicker Than Water. She has also written a memoir, The Kiss, a travel memoir, The Road to Santiago, a biography, Saint Therese of Lisiuex, and a collection of essays, Seeking Rapture. She lives in New York with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison, and their children.
Praise for The Mother Knot
“Harrison’s fascinating memoir nails a never-before-uttered psychological truth. A drama with her own child forces the writer to unknot—with great agony—the bonds that enslaved her to the memory of her own capricious mother, who almost manages—even from the grave—to destroy her only surviving child. This book should be required reading for anyone who ever had a mother.”
—MARY KARR, author of The Liars’ Club
“Mothers: They birth us, mold us, influence who we are and who we can become. Even in memory, their hold on daughters is complete. I loved The Mother Knot for its honest assessment of the ongoing impact this most primal of bonds can have on an adult daughter. In prose that manages to be both luminous and economical, in sentences that feel as effortless as breathing, Kathryn Harrison poignantly details the lengths to which one daughter must go, in order to finally let go.”
—HOPE EDELMAN, author of Motherless Daughters
“I am not alone. Kathryn Harrison’s new memoir has revealed that poignantly, beautifully, the way the best literature always does. Sure, the details of her story are unique, but the haunting emotions that weave together daughterhood and motherhood are universal. I just couldn’t put The Mother Knot down.”
—MARTHA MCPHEE, author of Gorgeous Lies
“The Mother Knot is a prose poem dedicated to performing a difficult task at which Kathryn Harrison always elegantly succeeds. Here, once again, she has found great beauty in limning hard truths. She is one of the most compelling writers I know, a true artist whose formidable talent is matched by her courage.”
—ELIZABETH BERG, author of The Art of Mending
“Kathryn Harrison’s new memoir, written with razor blades and honey, is a compelling mother-daughter study, full of truths about our lives. The book is moving and beautifully written.”
—ERICA JONG, author of Sappho’s Leap