Too Many Mothers by Roberta Taylor
'I was born in a sideboard.' So begins Roberta Taylor's bittersweet memoir of her early years, a book that proves beyond doubt that real life is stranger than any soap opera.
It's Boxing Day, 1956 in East London, and it's freezing, inside and out. Roberta, aged eight, sits in the kitchen in her overcoat, determined to make herself invisible, watching the shenanigans of the grown-ups. Her granny, Mary, reigns over the house with an iron will and an eye to the main chance. Roberta's cousin is on her hands and knees at the parlour grate, trying to retrieve grandad's dentures from the coals, dragging her coat in the dust. It's too cold to hang it up by the front door. Besides, Granny Mary makes no exceptions when it comes to the occasional light thieving. Aunt Doll learns that the hard way. Not even a padlock kept Mary from stealing Doll's wedding presents, although nobody can understand how she got the back off the wardrobe without Doll noticing.
Too Many Mothers is a portrait of an embattled extended family at war with itself and the outside world. From petty crime to pet monkeys, tender romance to shameless emotional blackmail, illegitimacy, adoption and even murder, Roberta Taylor has written a kaleidoscopic and unforgettable memoir of her family and her early life.