Love! Laugh! Panic!
Magic Island, 2013 (2013)
Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle
osemary Mild had a conflicted relationship with her mother Luby Pollack. Luby had emigrated with her parents and her older sister to the United States from Russia when she was a little girl. Intelligent, strong-willed, and ambitious, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1929, and perhaps motherhood wasn't high on her list of life accomplishments. However, she married her childhood sweetheart - the child of parents who were close friends with her own parents and who also came from Russia. Rosemary's father became a psychiatrist, who ordered Luby to keep quiet during labor in the hospital room as she was giving birth, because it would reflect poorly on him. This might have affected any woman's relationship with her child, but all things considered was probably just another trial for Luby to overcome.
uby became a well-known '
free-lance writer, publishing under her married name, Luby Pollack, in the Milwaukee Journal, Collier's, Parents Magazine, The American Home, Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, Today's Health, and elsewhere. Finally, she authored a book that became a Milwaukee bestseller: Your Normal Mind: Its Tricks and Quirks.
' She also gave book talks, but she must have been a whirlwind of activity, since she was extremely neat in her housekeeping and spent at least an hour every day preparing elaborate meals for the family from scratch, which meant pulling the remaining quills from whole chickens bought from the butcher as well as sometimes making up recipes. Rosemary was expected to help in the kitchen from a young age, and both her younger brother John and Rosemary were required to clean their plates after every meal. Rosemary was protective of John, though, and on occasion when her mother became impatient after waiting for John to finish a meal, Luby would go upstairs to work on her writing, while Rosemary flushed the hated remains from his plate down the toilet, calling up to her mother that he had finished eating.
uby was a small woman whose health was never good, and she died shortly before Rosemary graduated from college. Losing her mother at such a young age and never having an opportunity to assert her own personality into the relationship might have colored her memories. Although Rosemary attempted to stand up for herself when she became a teenager, most of the time she seemed to fold under her mother's strong will. She became a debutante when she was a sophomore in college, much against her will, and she suffered through dates with young men, who were usually the sons of her mother's friends, while attending debutante parties at the enormous houses of her fellow debutantes who were extremely wealthy.
osemary Mild's essays have been published in many well-known publications such as the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and Washington Woman, and she has co-authored mystery novels and stories with her husband, Larry Mild. Reading this memoir one could believe that she came by her writing ability naturally, inheriting some of it from her journalist mother. She started out to write a memoir about herself, but found her mother appearing in all of her memories to the extent that it became Luby's story more than her own. Rosemary manages to insert enough of herself into the book that the reader can see her own early determination to write well. In this memoir she has given us an entertaining look at her mother's life, both before and during their life together.
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