“One day I will tell you the story of my life,” promises Emma
Brockes’s mother, “and you will be amazed.”
Despite her mother’s tales of a rustic childhood in South
Africa and bohemian years in London, Brockes grew up knowing that some crucial
pieces of the past were left unspoken. A mystery to her friends and family,
Brockes’ mother, Paula, was glamorous, no-nonsense, and totally out of place in
their quaint English village. What compelled her to emigrate to England was
never explained, nor what empowered her tremendous strengths and strange fears.
Looking to unearth the truth after Paula’s death, Brockes begins a dangerous
journey into the land, and life, her mother fled years before.
She Left Me the Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me is a
tale of true transformation, the story of a young woman who reinvented herself
so completely that her previous life seemed to simply vanish, and of a daughter
who transcends her mother’s fears and reclaims an abandoned past. Brockes soon
learns Paula’s father was a drunk megalomaniac who terrorized Paula and her
seven half-siblings for years. He is ultimately taken to court and vindicated
of all charges, but not before Paula shoots him five times, and fails to kill
him. She books passage to London, never to return.
She Left Me the Gun carries
Brockes to South Africa to meet her seven aunts and uncles, to weigh their
stories against her mother’s silences, and to understand one of the world’s
most beautiful yet bloody countries. Brockes learns of the violent pathologies
and racial propaganda in which her grandfather was inculcated, sees the mine
shafts and train yards where he worked as an itinerant mechanic, and finds
buried in government archives the startling court records that prove he was
secretly imprisoned for murder years before he first married.
An extraordinary work of psychological suspense and forensic
memoir, She Left Me the Gun chronicles Brockes’ efforts to walk the
knife edge between understanding her mother’s unspeakable traumas and embracing
the happiness she chose for herself and her daughter. Download and start listening now!