Mysteries of Love and Grief, by Sandra Scofield.
Mysteries of Love and Grief: Reflections on a Plainswoman’s Life, by Sandra Scofield.
A wise memoir about the author, her mother, and her grandmother, all of whom lived hard working-class lives in Texas and nearby states.
Sandra Scofield has published ten previous books, including novels, memoirs, and essays. She has also produced guides to the writing process. Now in her 70s, she has returned to her family, reassessing their lives and bringing together themes about them present in her previous books. Her account focuses on her grandmother who raised her when her mother died in her early thirties. As she tells their stories, she also reassesses her own childhood years.
The women were the essential core of Scofield’s family. Poverty was ever present, but even worse was the basic insecurity. Men died, or left, or provided incompetent. Children died, too, and the family history is one of constant upheavals as people move from place to place seeking employment or the need to depend on each other. In this atmosphere, tempers often flared, but following the grandmother’s example, anger was often suppressed and family members supported.
Often narratives like these are set on the frontier, but here we are experiencing the hardship of people living in the near present. The book has a cutting edge because the pain expressed is so near the surface. The characters are sharply and insightfully drawn. We can identify with people living without the advantages that many of us take for granted; people who ask for no pity, but who are shaped by their experiences.
Mysteries of Love and Grief is an excellent book. I gladly recommend it to others.