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Book Of My Mother (2012)

Book of My Mother (2012)

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3.82 of 5 Votes: 1
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193574433X (ISBN13: 9781935744337)
archipelago books

About book Book Of My Mother (2012)

Albert Cohen (1895-1981) was an author and civil servant, whose Greek Jewish parents emigrated to Marseilles soon after his birth. He worked in Geneva through the 1930s, where his mother visited him regularly. He emigrated to Bordeaux and then London in 1940 during the German occupation of France. He urged his elderly and widowed mother, who was in failing health, to move with him to London, but she preferred to remain in Marseilles. Cohen was grief stricken once he learned of her death in 1943. He wrote a series of articles in tribute to her in La France libre during the war, which were later compiled and published as Le Livre de ma mère in 1954. It was translated into English by Bella Cohen, his third wife, and published as Book of My Mother in 1997. Archipelago Books released a new edition this month.The book opens with a flowery ode to his late mother, then provides the reader with a detailed glimpse of his mother, a heavy set but attractive woman who served her husband and son with bottomless devotion and love, regardless of how she was treated by them. Albert was somewhat carefree, and wasted the extra money his mother gave him on the vacuous young women he favored. He subtly rejects his mother's old-fashioned advice, as he prefers to live for the moment and to take advantage of the freedoms that modern society affords him. He does love her, but takes her presence for granted, despite her health problems.In the middle of the book, Cohen writes to her in sorrow and regret, as he finally realizes how much she meant to him, and how impoverished his life is without her:I was cruel to you once, and I asked for your forgiveness, which you granted so joyfully. You know, do you not, that I loved you with all my heart. How happy we were together, what chattering accomplices we were—such garrulous good friends, talking interminably. But I could have loved you yet more and written to you each day and given you each day a sense of your importance, which I alone was able to give you and which made so you proud, you who were humble and unacknowledged, my little genius, Maman, my dearest girl.His anguished cry in this portion of the book brought tears to my eyes, as I thought of my own elderly mother, and know that our days together on earth are numbered.Had the book ended at this point, I would probably have rated it five stars. However, much of the last half of the book is a maudlin and repetitive dirge, with frequent proclamations that "She is dead" and intermittent macabre details about his mother's interment.He closes the book with a heart felt plea to his readers:Sons of mothers who are still alive, never again forget that your mothers are mortal. I shall not have written in vain if one of you, after reading my song of death, is one evening gentler with his mother because of me and my mother. Be gentle with your mother each day. Show her more love than I showed my mother. Give your mother some happiness each day, that is what I say to you with the right accorded to me by regret; that is the grave message of a mourner.This is a difficult book for me to rate. I have settled on a four star rating, as it touched and deeply moved me, and has affected how I view the very good but not perfect relationship I have with my elderly parents. However, the book's latter half was quite disturbing and nearly unreadable to me, as I felt as if I was looking into the intimate thoughts of a mentally disturbed man. I would highly recommend this book, but I would also suggest skipping much of the latter half starting from Chapter 14 and resuming with Chapter 28.

This was written as a series by the author. Naturally there are quite a bit of repetition and dramatic in places. Though at times I had to turn the pages without going through it line by line, what comes through is his love for his mother. This book made me think about my mother, with whom I do get opportunity to spend time and I realised that it is true that one does not understand what a precious little thing she is, many a times! As I am growing older, I re-live the times spent with her and the times I have behaved badly and how within a short time she has forgiven me and I feel her unconditional love with me.This book is good, definitely not for it's narrative style nor for it's contents, for making me realise the person whom at times I take for granted, but who stands by me unconditionally always, my mother.

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Peu de livres ont connu un succès aussi constant que Le livre de ma mère. Ce livre bouleversant est l'évocation d'une femme à la fois "quotidienne" et sublime, une mère, aujourd'hui morte, qui n'a vécu que pour son fils et par son fils. Ce livre d'un fils est aussi le livre de tous les fils. Chacun de nous y reconnaîtra sa propre mère, sainte sentinelle, courage et bonté, chaleur et regard d'amour. Et tout fils pleurant sa mère disparue y retrouvera les reproches qu'il s'adresse à lui-même lorsqu'il pense à telle circonstance où il s'est montré ingrat, indifférent ou incompréhensif. Regrets ou remords toujours tardifs. "Aucun fils ne sait vraiment que sa mère mourra et tous les fils se fâchent et s'impatientent contre leurs mères, les fous si tôt punis."

Book of My Mother is a book from a neglectful son to his mother. The son, who didn't really think much of his mother, sudenly feel lost and empty after his mother's dead. This book is a compilation of Albert Cohen's contemplations of his late mother.I love Albert's choice of language or it was Bella Cohen's translation to be exact. It was beautiful and strong. Showing a deep regret of a son who didn't spend enough time and energy to love his mother when she was alive.This is a perfect book for everybody. It will make you think of your mother, especially if you have a strong connection with her. Thank you for Archipelago Books who gave this book to me through Goodreads' giveaway. Such a beautiful and must read book.

This is a really nice, and very sentimental book. It reads like a series of writings rather than as one continuous 'novel'. The writing is beautiful, simple and expresses the emotions beautifully.From what I can make out, there is no attempt to craft this as a literary work. It is a simple outpouring of emotion, love felt, and regret expressed. I am not used to expressing my sentiments and emotions, and there are times when the book seems a tad mawkish to me, and Albert kicks himself a bit too much. However, this is me expressing this, and not him.Yet, it is a wonderful reminder that we often don't stop to express emotion until it is too late, and then we have a lifetime of regret to look forward to. "If only I had....."A wonderful book. I recommend this to anyone who has a mother or father. To anyone who loves deeply.We move on, and leave our parents behind. This is a mistake, and I thank Albert for this wonderful book.
—Rajiv Chopra

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