Tuesday, May 30, 2017

the last book I ever read (Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast, excerpt one)

from Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast by Megan Marshall:

This was 1914, the year the Great Salem Fire consumed more than a thousand buildings and left twenty thousand residents homeless; the year Gertrude Bulmer Bishop was hospitalized for mental illness at Boston’s Deaconess Hospital, where she jumped out a second-story window but was not badly hurt. Gertrude was moved to a private sanatorium in Norwood, Massachusetts, and stayed three months before returning to Nova Scotia and Elizabeth, who had settled there with her Bulmer grandparents. By now Elizabeth had come to view her mother more as one of the Bulmer aunts, and the least reliable of them. Or perhaps not even that—Grandmother and the aunts had become Gertrude’s caretakers. Was it before or after this hospitalization that one of them found Gertrude sleeping next to Elizabeth, holding a knife? Not to use against Elizabeth, but perhaps to ward off the demons—or the provincial authorities—she feared would take Elizabeth from her. Gertrude could not stop grieving for William; what if she lost Elizabeth too?

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