For our discussion this time around the Slaves took a step away from the usual selection of a novel and chose to read a memoir, Bad Blood by Lorna Sage. While I enjoy reading a well written memoir, and this one definitely is that, I never quite know what to say about them. A person’s personal story is not quite the same as a novel so I fall into thinking things like, “wow, what a weird family guess mine isn’t as weird as I thought.”
I could recount for you Sage’s life – growing up in a small Welsh border town in a vicarage run by her philandering grandfather during WWII, a grandmother who lived in a fantasy world where she believed she was of a higher class and deserved to be catered to so never lifted a finger to clean a thing leaving all that to her daughter whose husband was away at the war. Other than being attached to her grandfather and getting some education and a love of books from him, Sage was pretty much left to run wild. The educational system was set up to train girls who were going to get married and have children and boys who were going to be manual laborers. But Sage persevered even after she became a teenage mother. She married the child’s father and together they went off to college and were saved by education. After recounting her life, what do I say about it?
I can note that Sage’s family life while growing up was all about keeping up appearances. Her grandmother was always concerned about what kids she played with even though Sage was as poor and dirty as the lower class poor and dirty kids she was warned away from. Grandfather, at first excited about his living at the vicarage soon became disillusioned by the small town especially after his affair with the nurse was discovered and Grandmother, his wife, made his life a living hell. But the two remained married and he performed his duties as vicar until he died.
Once the was is over and Sage’s father returned, they moved into a tiny council flat and gave the appearance of being a traditional family especially with the addition of a brother for Sage. Sage’s mother would buy smart suits on layaway from the consignment shop to wear for a life she didn’t have and make family dinners of pre-packaged processed meals. Sage’s father worked all the time running his own business and never really seemed part of her life even though they would make public appearances as a family. Her younger brother is not mentioned much at all.
At the conclusion of Sage’s memoir are we supposed to take away some lesson? Maybe how education is redemptive? Or a general feeling for the times? Perhaps there is no lesson to be learned at all. Perhaps it is only about understanding someone else’s truth in order to better see our own?