She Left Me the Gun : My Mother's Life Before Me (out of print)
When Emma Brockes was ten years old, her mother said 'One day I will tell you the story of my life and you will be amazed.' Growing up in a tranquil English village, Emma knew very little of her mother's life before her. She knew Paula had grown up in South Africa and had seven siblings. She had been told stories about deadly snakes and hailstones the size of golf balls. There was mention, once, of a trial. But most of the past was a mystery. When her mother dies of cancer, Emma - by then a successful journalist at the Guardian - is free to investigate the untold story. Her search begins in the Colindale library but then takes her to South Africa, to the extended family she has never met and their accounts of a childhood so different to her own. She encounters versions of the life her mother chose to leave behind - and realises what a gift her mother gave her. Part investigation, part travelogue, part elegy, "She Left Me the Gun" is a gripping, funny and clear-eyed account of a writer's search for her mother's story.
The astonishing, intensely moving and beautifully told true story of dark family secrets and one woman's search for the truth.
Emma Brockes writes for the Guardian Weekend magazine and contributes to the New York Times, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Elle, She is the winner of two British Press Awards (Young Journalist of the Year and Feature Writer Of the Year) and while at Oxford she won the Philip Geddes Memorial Prize for Journalism. She is the author of one previous book - What Would Barbra Do? - about her love of musicals. She lives in New York.