Family of Women

Written by Annie Murray
Review by Gwen Sly


Family of Women is set in Birmingham between the years 1926 and 1960 but spans more than half a century when returning to the childhood of big, buxom, illiterate Bessie Wiles, matriarch of the family who dominates and controls the lives of her children. She is a survivor of the harsh slum conditions of the overpopulated back-to-back houses of her day.

Annie Murray writes a moving story of three generations of women who, through adversity, discover the joys, sadness and changes that affect their lives. She is especially good at describing life in the fifties, the time of the Coronation when rationing was in its last stages and televisions were one to a street; the one readily identified by its H-shaped aerial attached to the chimney.

The author rapidly creates the atmosphere surrounding her story and demonstrates the lack of feminist sentiments expressed by the women, whose very existence revolves around the wishes and demands of their menfolk at a time when marriage was the only aim and education was sublimated to that ideal.

An easy to read novel that is quite juicy in parts.