Q&A With 'Someone Not Really Her Mother's' Harriet Scott Chessman

ByABC News via logo
January 6, 2005, 9:15 AM

Jan. 6, 2005 -- -- The book, "Someone Not Really Her Mother" was featured in "Good Morning America's" "Read This!" book club series.

The story is about Hannah, a woman who made an escape back in 1940, from war-torn France to England. As she gets older, her memories of life in America and herrelationships with her daughter and granddaughters are virtually erased. As Hannah's daughter, Miranda, tries to bring her mother back into the present, she finds herself being pulled into Hannah's turbulent past.

Harriet Scott Chessman, author of "Someone Not Really Her Mother," joined ABCNEWS.com to answer a few questions about her book in the following online Q and A.

Q: What was the significance of her granddaughter Ida who is so connected to her grandmother's story? --Randi

A: Dear Randi -- I think of Ida as the one who constantly voices questions about Hannah's life, who, in a sense, wishes to inhabit her grandmother, in order to understand her. Ida is a bit like an author, searching the depths of this character she loves, and attempting to bring into words what has remained unspoken.

As a young woman and a poet herself, Ida is drawn to Hannah's poetry, which often evokes the intense love and grief Hannah experienced, especially during and just after the War. Through questions and through her cycle of poems about Hannah, Ida discovers insights into her grandmother that shed light on her own life.

Q: I am imagining that there are typically echoes of one's own personal history or memory within the pages of one's book. So, to what extent do you reveal to past and present loved ones what you really feel about yourself and them? Anne Lamott wrote to this issue in one of her books, but treated it humorously, something along the lines of [rough translation] "tell the past lover that he had a small penis." Do you find the imagined presence of readers who know you to be restrictive, liberating, or somewhere in between?