Motherwell: The moving memoir of growing up in 60s and 70s working class Scotland (Paperback)Deborah Orr (author)
The final work from the award winning and inspirational journalist, Motherwell interrogates the psychological inheritance that we receive from our parents and how close family ties can prevent us from achieving cherished goals. .
Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month for January 2021
A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week
Just shy of 18, Deborah Orr left Motherwell - the town she both loved and hated - to go to university. It was a decision her mother railed against from the moment the idea was raised.
Win had very little agency in the world, every choice was determined by the men in her life. And strangely, she wanted the same for her daughter. Attending university wasn't for the likes of the Orr family. Worse still, it would mean leaving Win behind - and Win wanted Deborah with her at all times, rather like she wanted her arm with her at all times. But while she managed to escape, Deborah's severing from her family was only superficial. She continued to travel back to Motherwell, fantasizing about the day that Win might come to accept her as good enough. Though of course it was never meant to be.
Motherwell is a sharp, unflinching and often humorous memoir about the long shadow that can be cast when the core relationship in your life compromises every effort you make to become an individual. It is about what we inherit - the good and the very bad - and how a deeper understanding of the place and people you have come from can bring you towards redemption.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 270 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 26 mm
'Searching, truthful, shocking (and timely) . . . with a reporter's skill, she shows the interior life of her people. In the present climate, this book should be given out on the NHS . . . a masterpiece' - Andrew O'Hagan, The Guardian
'Sharply intelligent and utterly unsentimental, Motherwell is a fitting legacy left by a blazing talent' - The Observer
'Raw, compelling, wise and tender' - Dolly Alderton
'Motherwell is razor-sharp, fearless and wonderful' - Adam Kay
'An outstanding memoir . . . The writing is powerful and muscular; the bitterness raw and furious . . . as a legacy, this book will stand at least as long as Ravenscraig' - The Spectator
'A fierce and tender reckoning: personal, political, and blazing with truth' - Melissa Harrison
'Crammed with wit and intelligence . . . a clever, meticulous and intricate work. Although heart-rending at times, it is also surprisingly funny . . . has a generosity of tone that means as you read it you experience sudden flashes from your own past: slights, plights, triumphs, mad asides' - The Financial Times
'Utterly candid and staggeringly good, both as the history of a woman and the history of a place' - India Knight
'A poignant, beautiful and all-too-topical memoir. With the skill, delicacy and sharp wit her many fans know and love, Deborah Orr tells her tale of childhood: of class and mobility, of self-love and self-loathing, of dissatisfied mother and clever daughter, and of the dangerous, complex sacrifices which opportunity demands from a girl on the move in the late twentieth century. Are you a mother? Do/did you have a mother? Read it' - Louisa Young
'If you have or had a difficult mother this is the book for you. Difficult doesn't have to mean abusive. You can have a happy childhood with a mother who drives you mad' - Linda Grant
'Filled with observational brilliance and wit . . . beautiful. Brilliant . . . not just an intelligent and honest personal memoir, not just an examination of narcissism, interdependence and repression, but a conjuring of a time, a moment in British history, that may otherwise be lost entirely. It is also funny. As funny, it would seem from the obituaries, as the woman herself' - Daily Telegraph
'Honest, at times harsh, but also deeply tender and very funny - this is a beautifully written memoir. It's my generation so evoked many unwanted memories including the three-day-week, boiled to death veg and masturbating skinheads. A great read for 'Common People' like me' - Kathy Burke
'Motherwell is a story about a girl, a family, a time, a place. But so much more. Fearlessly Deborah Orr works out how she was formed as she unpicks everyday dysfunction. Full of glinting pain, brilliant one liners and utter clarity, the sliver of ice in her heart melts. Sheer humanity shines out. I was astonished' - Suzanne Moore
'Deborah's honest and fearless spirit shines throughout Motherwell. Her many struggles are told with wit and candour, but above all there is so much love in this book' - Cosey Fanni Tutti
'Complex and moving, this is an honest take on the close ties that can bind, hold us back and also set us free' - Stylist - Best New Books of 2020
'[Orr's] masterpiece . . . the story of her family but also a social commentary of Britain . . . a fascinating look into the childhood of one of our most important journalists' - Evening Standard
'Intense and moving' - Red
'A remarkable memoir, the candour of it . . . Having grown up working-class in Scotland, there are a lot of resonances' - The i Newspaper
'Love and understanding triumph over the difficult and painful memories. It is disconcertingly honest and self-revealing. You are unlikely to forget it' - The Scotsman
'A complex study of a family, childhood, and a town transformed' - The Art's Desk
'Brilliant . . . An excellent and timely slice of social reportage' - Metro
'A beautifully written portrait of a quintessential Seventies working-class childhood' - New Statesman
'Bold, clear-eyed and often very funny' - Radio Times
'A remarkable book . . . impassioned, angry, tender, pathetic, honest to a fault. Motherwell is written at such a pitch of intensity you sometimes have to put it down just to get your breath back' - Mail on Sunday
'Searing, candid, magnificently perceptive and lingeringly tragic. A modern classic' - Daily Mail
'Vivid, visceral, uncompromising, electrifying in its candour' - i
'Raw, beautiful and truly insightful' - Good Housekepping
'Completely amazing' - Stylist
'Motherwell is an unflinching memoir of one family and a lost world. It is also an extended essay on how not to mother well and the terrible legacy that can leave' - Daily Express
'Sharp, funny, warm and memorable' - Sunday Independent
'Dauntless, quietly devastating, but not without seams of happiness and magnificent wit' - The Herald (Glasgow)
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ReviewsView all Sign In To Write A Review
“A love letter to a home town”
This was one of my most anticipated new books of 2020 so I feel very fortunate to have received an advance proof copy from Orion Books. I knew that I would be able to relate to many of the themes covered in the book,... More
This was not only a biography but a snap shot of life in Scotland.. beautifully written account of Deborah’s relationship with her mother.
Thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it to all her fans as a touching... More
Motherwell is a fearless and thoroughly candid memoir about family relationships, the mother-daughter bond, class, and political neglect, but ultimately, the pride she has for her Scottish hometown.
Orr makes sense of... More
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