Cover image for The unknown bridesmaid
The unknown bridesmaid
Forster, Margaret, 1938-2016, author.
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Europa Editions, 2014.
Physical Description:
248 pages ; 21 cm
When Julia was eight, she was asked to be a bridesmaid at her beautiful cousin Iris's wedding. Her mother saw this as a chore--expensive, inconvenient-- but Julia was thrilled. When the time came, even the fact that her bridesmaid's dress didn't fit, and was plain cream rather than the pink she'd hoped for, couldn't ruin the day. But after this, things began to go wrong for Julia, starting with an episode involving her cousin's baby, a pram and a secret trip round the block. A lifetime later, Julia is a child psychologist working with young girls at risk. In her sessions, Julia has a knack for determining which of her young patients are truly troubled, and which are simply at the mercy of the oppressive adults around them.
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When eight-year-old Julia was asked to be a bridesmaid at her beautiful cousin Iris's wedding, she was thrilled. Nothing, not even her mother's resentment of the expensive, inconvenient trip, could dull her excitement. But, when the day finally arrived and she took her cousin's baby on a secret stroll around the block in his pram, her entire world shifted. She couldn't possibly know the impact the fateful trip would have on her future.

A lifetime later, Julia is a child psychologist working with young girls at risk. In her sessions, Julia has a knack for determining which of her young patients are truly troubled, and which are simply at ther mercy of the oppressive adults around them. Margaret Forster weaves a quietly powerful story of the relationship between past and current reality--when Julia's own troubled childhood begins to invade her present and she is forced to confront her relationship with misplaced guilt,the possibility arises that the truth of her past may not be as devastating as she has always feared.

Forster's subtle writing proves the perfect compliment to the darkness of Julia's past, as she tells a story of maturation, reconciliation, and one woman's psychological evolution. The Unknown Bridesmaid explores personal history and familial bonds, guilt and redemption, to reveal that even the seemingly average life is anything but ordinary.

Author Notes

Margaret Forster was born in Carlisle, England on May 25, 1938. She read history at Somerville College, Oxford. Before her writing career took off, she was a teacher at a girls' school. She is the author of over 40 books of fiction and non-fiction. Her novel include Mother, Can You Hear Me?, Have the Men Had Enough?, Lady's Maid, Private Papers, Diary of an Ordinary Woman, Over, Isa and May, The Unknown Bridesmaid, and How to Measure a Cow. Georgy Girl, published in 1965, was made into a film starring Lynn Redgrave in 1966.

She has written several memoirs including Hidden Lives, Precious Lives, and My Life in Houses. Her biography Elizabeth Barrett Browning won the Heinemann award and her 1993 biography of Daphne du Maurier won the Fawcett book prize and was filmed for the BBC as Daphne in 2007. She also wrote a history of feminism entitled Significant Sisters in 1984. She died of cancer on February 8, 2016 at the age of 77.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

As a girl, Julia asked a lot of questions. Her no-nonsense mother would bat these away, but, once grown, Julia spends her time interviewing girls as a child psychologist. However, there are unanswered questions in her own past, which are unspooled in this tightly paced narrative. From the time Julia has a mishap while taking her cousin's baby on a walk, she engages in a serious of spiteful acts, only sometimes wholly on purpose. Julia's motives are shrouded, even to herself, in a way that rings true even as it gets under your skin. The interplay of Julia's childhood story with her sessions with troubled girls contains searing psychological insight. Readers' reactions will teeter from sympathy to censure during this gripping reminder that childhood is not always the halcyon period it is held out to be but, rather, can contain the seeds of adult tribulations. Forster vividly demonstrates how even our childhood selves can become strangers to us, and even someone who asks a lot of questions may have a hard time finding out the answers.--Thoreson, Bridget Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

With integrity and insight, Forster (Georgy Girl) portrays a London child psychologist whose painful past won't let her go. Julia learned early in life from her mother, who never shared the mystery of her absent father, that secrecy is a helpful "policy of self-protection." So lying came easily for young Julia when adults questioned her about a fateful, terrible afternoon. Julia's story begins as an eight-year-old bridesmaid for her cousin, Iris, whose joy was shortlived with her new husband. Happiness returns to the family when Iris becomes a mother. Entrusted with Iris's newborn, Julia secretly takes the baby for a forbidden walk, but the pram tips on its side by accident. Julia never divulges her secret walk, setting in motion the guilt that will define much of her life. More unhappiness is to come, and by high school, Julia is miserable, living with Iris's young family; she becomes adept at lying, cheating, stealing, and terrorizing them. Julia leaves for college, severing ties with her relatives. Years pass, and Julia becomes well-known for her work with troubled girls-dialogue from her patient sessions alternates with scenes of her childhood. Julia's youthful indiscretions do not hold her back professionally, yet she longs for forgiveness. In the end, a stranger inadvertently provides the impetus, leading to a life-changing decision. Forster's complicated portrait is affecting and memorable. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.