Her Mother's Hands by Karmele Jaio

Her Mother's Hands

Karmele Jaio

Like Alice, Nerea feels she is falling into a rabbit hole. She worries about her mother, suffering from dementia and her former lover, a Basque ETA member who is said to be back in town. As a journalist Nerea is continually thwarted by her boss. But it's not at all a depressing story. There’s subtle humour about her very English husband. The writing is concise, poetic and easy. I found it a tender, heartfelt account about loss, loyalty and love.


'Think about what happens when you put a new coat of paint over the old one on a wardrobe. Brown paint over white, for example. Well, after a while you think the wardrobe was always brown. You forget that it was ever white. But over the years, the wardrobe suffers from humidity, heat, cold, the touches of many hands, and because of all these things, a piece of the top layer flakes off. A little piece of paint flakes off and under the brown, you see that the wardrobe has a white coat. At first you're surprised, but then you say, "that's right, it's true, this wardrobe was white once." This is what happens with us too. We repaint ourselves endlessly, putting one event on top of another, forgetting the one underneath or thinking that we've forgotten. But one day we take a hit and, just like the wardrobe, little pieces of the top layer fall to the ground, and other layers can then be seen, earlier ones. And then we say, "yes that's right, this wardrobe was white once."'

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