Heidi and I met thanks to a rather nice pair of boots. Well, two pairs actually – one on her feet and one on mine. It was at a literary festival in Lancaster. But some years before we bonded over boots, Heidi wrote me a book … a book that spoke just to me, a book that reflected back at me some of the darker days of my life and, perhaps most importantly, a book that said: you are not alone.
That book was Wounding, published by Bluemoose Books.
Heidi dedicates her book to all mothers, everywhere. So sweet. But, oh! Beware. This is no Maria Von Trapp fable. It is the most powerful adverse account of motherhood I’ve read in fiction for a very long time. Most people won’t have an experience as appalling as Cora’s, and thankfully I didn’t either, but there was still a lot there that I could relate to.
Cora is a mother. She feels the weight of expectation, not only from her children but from others around her, in relation to what motherhood means. When she finds she cannot match those expectations, she feels herself defined by everything she – in her own perception – is not: she is not a good mother, she is not grateful when she should be, she is not happy when she ought to be. And then comes the guilt and feelings of unworthiness, overwhelming and seemingly unstoppable, requiring punishment. Requiring wounding.
Heidi’s exploration of what it means to live in the world as a fractured personality is intensely perceptive and deeply moving. It took me a while to read Wounding, but that stands as testament to Heidi’s extraordinary insight and the power of her ability to render such fierce rawness in words. And anyway, you can’t rush a Heidi James book. Few authors can pack as much into a single sentence as she can. Her work deserves savouring.
As emotionally difficult as Wounding was to read, it was also cathartic. To articulate the incomprehensible, to say what can’t otherwise be said, to commit to print things that would bring a social worker running – this is what Heidi does for all mothers, everywhere.
So, yes, Heidi James wrote me a book. And I thank her for it from the bottom of my heart.
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