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book cover of The Cruel Mother

The Cruel Mother

A non fiction book by

In 1919 Sian Busby's great-grandmother gave birth to triplets. One of the babies died at birth, and eleven days later she drowned the surviving twins in a bath of cold water. She was sentenced to an indefinite term in a prison for the criminally insane.

For generations to come, the author's family dealt with the murders and the accompanying shame, guilt, and anxiety by suppressing the disturbing memory.

It wasn't until Busby began to experience severe bouts of postpartum depression herself that she felt compelled to learn more about this shadowy story, ultimately immersing herself in the puzzling and horrific tragedy that had quietly shaped her family's collective history.

In Cruel Mother, Busby digs out her own postpartum depression, by re-creating not only the broader reality of post-WWI working class England, but the more intimate setting in which her great-grandmother tried to raise a family. In the process, Busby brings ghosts to very real and familiar life, making these unexpected and inexplicable deaths that much more tragic. Ultimately, Busby and the reader are left not only with new understanding, but heartfelt empathy for all involved.


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Used availability for Sian Busby's The Cruel Mother

Hardback Editions

May 2004 : UK Hardback

Title: The Cruel Mother: A Family Ghost Laid to Rest
Author(s): Sian Busby
ISBN: 1-904095-71-2 / 978-1-904095-71-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Short Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Paperback Editions

July 2005 : USA Paperback

Title: The Cruel Mother: A Memoir
Author(s): Sian Busby
ISBN: 0-7867-1549-9 / 978-0-7867-1549-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

May 2005 : UK Paperback

Title: Cruel Mother
Author(s): Sian Busby
ISBN: 1-904977-06-5 / 978-1-904977-06-3 (UK edition)
Publisher: Short Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA