Listen free for 30 days

Motherland

A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing
Narrated by: Elissa Altman
Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

“I’m reading this book right now and loving it!” (Cheryl Strayed, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Wild)

How can a mother and daughter who love (but don’t always like) each other coexist without driving each other crazy? It’s the universal question that has defined mothers and daughters from Demeter and Persephone to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.

After surviving a traumatic childhood in 1970s New York and young adulthood living in the shadow of her flamboyant mother, Rita, a makeup-addicted former television singer, Elissa Altman has managed to build a very different life, settling in Connecticut with her wife of nearly 20 years. After much time, therapy, and wine, Elissa is at last in a healthy place, still orbiting around her mother but keeping far enough away to preserve the stable, independent world she has built as a writer and editor. Then Elissa is confronted with the unthinkable: Rita, whose days are spent as a flâneur, traversing Manhattan from the Clinique counters at Bergdorf to Bloomingdale’s and back again, suffers an incapacitating fall, leaving her completely dependent upon her daughter. 

Now Elissa is forced to finally confront their profound differences, Rita’s yearning for beauty and glamour, her view of the world through her days in the spotlight, and the money that has mysteriously disappeared in the name of preserving youth. To sustain their fragile mother-daughter bond, Elissa must navigate the turbulent waters of their shared lives, the practical challenges of caregiving for someone who refuses to accept it, the tentacles of narcissism, and the mutual, frenetic obsession that has defined their relationship. 

Motherland is a story that touches every home and every life, mapping the ferocity of maternal love, moral obligation, the choices women make about motherhood, and the possibility of healing. Filled with tenderness, wry irreverence, and unforgettable characters, it is an exploration of what it means to escape from the shackles of the past only to have to face them all over again. 

Praise for Motherland

“Rarely has a mother-daughter relationship been excavated with such honesty. Elissa Altman is a beautiful, big-hearted writer who mines her most central subject: her gorgeous, tempestuous, difficult mother, and the terrain of their shared life. The result is a testament to the power of love and family.” (Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance)

“Vibrating with emotion, this deeply honest account strikes a chord.” (People)

©2019 Elissa Altman (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“An acclaimed food writer and memoirist’s account of the codependent relationship she had with her charming and outrageous - but also very difficult - mother.... Funny, raw, and tender, Altman’s book examines the inevitable role reversals that occur in parent-child relationships while laying bare a mother-daughter relationship that is both entertaining and excruciating. An eloquent, poignant memoir.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“It’s a braided daisy chain, this mother-love. She loves me, she loves me not. I love her, I love her not. For an only child in a glamorous, glittery world, perhaps it’s more chain than daisy. Elissa Altman uses her wit, heart, moxie, and everything she has ever learned, to both love and free herself from an impossible, never-say-die mother. She does it with scintillating, unsparing prose. I couldn’t quit them; I didn’t want to. Honor to them both.” (Jacki Lyden, author of Daughter of the Queen of Sheba)

“In Motherland, Elissa Altman brilliantly untwists her own lifelong passionate-but-fraught mother-daughter helix. Beautifully written, infused with humor, sorrow, and hard-won clarity, this memoir is a triumph of writerly and daughterly empathy. The ending moved me to tears.” (Kate Christensen, author of Blue Plate Special)

What members say

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rebecca Rice-Wilson
  • Rebecca Rice-Wilson
  • 09-09-19

Amazing!

Finished it in a couple days. it was riveting!
Thank you for your vulnerability! Loved it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Daina
  • Daina
  • 17-08-19

individual therapy

if you have a mommy dearest relationship, you might find solace here in this story. Mother is a trainwreck of a mother; daughter is trying work through this individual matter in her public writing. I wouldn't recommend for general consumption.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful