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The Three of Us: A Family Story

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Published by Vintage Digital, part of Vintage Publishing

  • Epub

Format: ebook

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EAN: 9781409001010
Published: 7 May 2011


About the book


Winner of the J. R. Ackerley Award

This is the story of three people: Julia Blackburn, her father Thomas and her mother Rosalie. Thomas was a poet and an alcoholic, who for many years was addicted to barbiturates; Rosalie, a painter, was sociable and flirtatious. After her parents were divorced, Julia's mother took in lodgers, always men, on the understanding that each should become her lover. When one of the lodgers started an affair with Julia, Rosalie was devastated; when he later committed suicide the relationship between mother and daughter was shattered irrevocably.

Or so it seemed until the spring of 1999, when Rosalie, diagnosed with leukaemia, came to live with Julia for the last month of her life.

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What the critics say

Blackburn has written an exceptionally perceptive and fascinating book, a tribute by a remarkable daughter to the resilience of filial love
- Sunday Telegraph

A stunningly written memoir
- Sunday Times

The Three of Us contains all the mental and physical violations that cling to the bare bones of their shared past... Blackburn was never afraid of her father. It's very clear in the book - he is described even at his blackest moments with affection and warmth
- Guardian

Blackburn's first 16 years sound quite frankly too bad to be true. Nightmarish infact - though she details them in such an ingenuous, matter-of-fact manner that she somehow manages to make terrible events seem almost funny.... the resulting memoir is mesmerising and brilliant
- Daily Mail

Having read her family memoir, a book that engrosses and horrifies in equal measure, it is hard not to be reminded of Larkin's famous axiom: 'They fuck you up your mum and dad.'... 'Blackburn's writing transcends the frightening idiosyncrasies of her upbringing. Her prose is understated and evocative, despite the desperate truths that lurk beneath.'... 'It would be easy for Blackburn to attribute blame or to seek explanation, but her refusal to do so gives this triptych portrait an integrity and honesty that it could otherwise lack.
- Observer

The fact that I was unable to put [the book] down is proof of how well she tells [the story], and of how such an experience, if described with real skill, honesty, and sensitivity, will make a valuable book, however many others of a similar kind have been published.... I ended it feeling very glad indeed that I had overcome my first disinclination to begin it
- Literary Review

[Blackburn] has written an exceptionally perceptive and fascinating book, a tribute by a remarkable daughter to the resilience of filial love.
- Sunday Telegraph

An unnerving book about manipulation and loss ... and about the complicated burdens families inflict on one another down through the generations. As a literary memoir of a lost childhood , it is remarkable as much for its candour as its craftsmanship
- Sunday Times

a rich account...brilliant vignettes
- Sunday Times

About the Author

Julia Blackburn has written five books of non-fiction - Charles Waterton, The Emperor's Last Island, Daisy Bates in the Desert, Old Man Goya and With Billie - a family memoir, The Three of Us, which won the 2009 J. R. Ackerley Award, and two novels, The Book of Colour and The Leper's Companions, both of which were shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She is the author of seventeen short stories specially commisioned by BBC Radio, a selection of which were published in My Animals and Other Family, and four radio plays, including The Spellbound Horses, which was broadcast in 2011.

Julia Blackburn

More about Julia Blackburn

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