A Woman on the Edge of Time: A Son Investigates His Trailblazing Mother's Young Suicide

A Woman on the Edge of Time: A Son Investigates His Trailblazing Mother's Young Suicide

by Jeremy Gavron


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London, 1965: A brilliant young woman—a prescient advocate for women’s rights at the dawn of modern feminism—has just gassed herself to death, leaving behind a suicide note, two young sons, and a soon-to-be-published sociological study, The Captive Wife: Conflicts of Housebound Mothers.

Hannah Gavron had seemingly led a charmed life since childhood: She had been a champion equestrian, had studied acting alongside Peter O’Toole. As a bright, sophisticated adult, swept up in the progressive politics of the ’60s, she was a promising academic and the wife of a rising entrepreneur. No one who knew Hannah ever imagined that she might take her own life.

Jeremy Gavron was just four when his mother died. Afterward, a silence descended so completely on her family and friends that it was as if she had never lived. In this searching portrait of Hannah, Jeremy embarks on a quest to break forty years of silence, to try to understand who his mother was and what drove her to suicide.

He’s left to piece her life together from what remains: letters, diaries, and the faded memories of old acquaintances. As he digs into her past, he uncovers a darker side to Hannah’s life—societal pressure, marital strife, and inescapable sexism that discounted her desire for more as a sign of mental illness. Ultimately, Jeremy not only comes as close as he can to knowing his mother—he also vividly captures the suffocating constrictions placed on every ambitious woman in the mid-twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781615193387
Publisher: The Experiment
Publication date: 09/20/2016
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jeremy Gavron is the author of The Book of Israel, winner of the Encore Award, and An Acre of Barren Ground. A former foreign correspondent in Africa and Asia, he lives in London, and teaches in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.

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A Woman on the Edge of Time: A Son Investigates His Trailblazing Mother's Young Suicide 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
LitWinner More than 1 year ago
I have a morbid fascination with real life cases of suicide. Maybe it’s my psychology degree, maybe it’s the mystery involved, but I want to learn as much as I can. I can’t imagine what would drive a mother to small children who appears to be so accomplished to such a drastic act that effects so many. I hoped in reading this tale that I would understand more about the mindset that lead Hannah to this point. At first, Gavron tells us what he remembers learning as he grew up and what he has pieced together about his mother’s actual death. He was only 4 at that point, so much if it is learned later in his life, most of it as he starts inquiries among those that knew his mother. As he moves into Hannah’s life history, I became fascinated. How often do we learn so much about a person, picking up on little clues and nuances that may explain later acts in life? Gavron’s chronicle is thorough – he left no stone unturned, even after 70+ years after Hannah’s girlhood. Also interesting to note is how much further behind America Britain seemed to be regarding the women’s movement. Hannah appeared to be able to have it all: a family, a husband, a lover, a full education and an admirable career. But one thing was the tipping point that drove her over the edge. Her doctoral thesis, published posthumously as “The Captive Wife”, made her into a feminist figure when it was very hard to be one. Many women in America were pushing the boundaries, but Hannah seemed very much alone. I wonder if she had been in America if she would have felt as hopeless. If you’re interested in sociology and/or psychology, I think you would enjoy A Woman on the Edge of Time. However, there really is no happy ending or revelation in this story. It’s a dark examination of a troubled young woman’s mind, to the extent that can be pieced together by her actions and at a distance of 50 years. This book will be published in the US on September 20, 2016; you can preorder it now from Amazon. I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. All thoughts are my own.