Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

[Memoirs from Away: A New Found Land Girlhood]

Academic journal article Resources for Feminist Research

[Memoirs from Away: A New Found Land Girlhood]

Article excerpt

In the foreword to this book, the author indicates that when she began to write, she decided to use her middle and maiden names, "Margaret Clarke," rather than her first and married names, "Helen Buss." She felt that she was "reaching for some other identity, one lost or not yet found." This "identity association" could in fact be the mantra for the entire text.

Memoirs from Away: A New Found Land Girlhood is lovingly written. With my background in folklore and journalism, I would describe this book as "life history," rather than "life writing" as the publisher calls the series. Buss/Clarke has provided an intricate first person narrative of both her life as she and her many informants (friends, immediate family, and relatives) have remembered it. Serendipitously, she has included intriguing snippets -- through anecdote and dialogue -- about St. John's, Newfoundland in the 1950s, an apt and engaging topic for writers both living in Newfoundland and those living "away" in the 1990s.

What makes Buss/Clarke's work stand out is her innate attention to detail. Not only does she describe personal family history within the political and historical context of her former home, she provides intimate and physical glimpses into her sometimes painful past, which in every sense paved her future. Interwoven throughout the text is the author's personal grappling with past, present, and future power struggles between women (like the ones between her and her mother), between men and women (her father, brothers, and male neighbours), and those struggles dictated by society, especially considering the homogeneous nature of Newfoundland's educational and religious institutions. …

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