‘A Young Lady’s Miscellany’ by Auriel Roe is a memoir of the author herself and her life from her teenage years up until her twenties. We go through these times with her and see her attempting to traverse her life with a lack of parental support.
What’s a girl of fourteen to do when she finds herself alone in the world with no one to guide her? Why, follow the Victorian self-help guide, A Young Lady’s Miscellany, of course! The trouble is, the advice it offers proves less than helpful in a modern context. Muddling through, often with disastrous results, she finds a friend in her recently widowed grandmother, the door to whose small house is always open. Inept at any job she can get and pursued by a slew of unsuitable suitors, she must instead spend a decade navigating her own miscellany in order to come of age.
A book that recounts all her education years then work and family life as well. We see her parents split up and Auriel drifting between the two – while neither parent is taking notice as they are too self-absorbed with their newly single lives. She instead turns to her two grandmothers, May and Manda. These two women are her much needed rocks in a turbulent time for a teen who is just muddling through.
Although it is a humourous take on her life as we meet a plethora of various people from teachers, bullies, classmates, friends and even the boys who had the potential of being love interests for her. We also see the negative things that impacted her quite seriously. She was the victim of bullying at the school she attended when her parents split up. She also saw a lot of bullying too. She would go to Manda’s instead of school and I would have done the same I think in her shoes. Her account of her holiday job in a detention centre for women with young children is a touching and emotional one.
Auriel Roe recounts her ups and downs with meaning. It makes for a bittersweet read really, as we must remember this is actually someone’s life and they lived everything within these pages. It almost gives me a feeling of being privileged to be allowed to have a snapshot of her life.
Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Auriel Roe for my gifted copy of her marvellous memoir.