10 June 2021, The Tablet

How excruciating can a mother-daughter relationship be?


 

My Phantoms
GWENDOLINE RILEY
(GRANTA, 208 PP, £12.99)
Tablet bookshop price £11.69 • tel 020 7799 4064

How excruciating can a mother-daughter relationship be? Try this one: Bridget, “Bridge”, is youngish, partnered, employed, childless – there’s a hint there – and living in London. Her mother Helen, “Hen”, is twice divorced, a pensioner, flitting from one unsuitable home in the south to another up north.

Hen fills the threatening silence of a life shorn of responsibility with group walks, the wine club, gallery openings, travel and ­supposedly hilarious jaunts with her gay hanger-on friend. Unfulfilled by any of this, she invests too much emotional energy in frustrating annual meet-ups in a London restaurant with her daughter, where the two of them struggle to communicate.

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