Remembering Judith

08 Feb
Remembering Judith

“A true story of shattered childhoods… Following her escape from Nazi Germany and the loss of her family Judith searches for unconditional love and acceptance. In a bleak boarding house she meets her future husband – another Jewish refugee who cares for her when she is ill.Tragically she associates illness with love and a pattern is set. Judith’s behaviour eventually spiral into anorexia – a disease little known or understood in 1950’s Britain. While she starves herself, Judith forces Ruth, her daughter, to eat. She makes elaborate meals and watches her consume them. She gives her a pint of custard before bed each night. As the disease progresses roles are reversed. Ruth must care for her mother and loses any hope of a normal childhood. The generation gap is tragically bridged by loss and extreme self-loathing, in this moving true story of a family’s fight to survive.”

I read this book a couple of weeks ago but it stayed with me.  The above blurb does not do justice to what comes from the book.  Often when reding about someone who has been damaged by life you can see [or surmise] the cause but with Judith and her husband Geoffrey, whilst the ordeal of jewishness in 1930’s Europe was perilous they did escape the worst of it, what was it [other than habit or guilt] that moulded them into such people.  What was the catalyst that fuelled her annorexia yet blinded her to its rippling consequences.

Ruth as soon as she was percieved old enough became the substitute, the housemaid, the nurse, the cleaner, the cook, the servant, the non-human, the non-daughter.  The affection, pride and love you associate with parenthood quickly turned into fear of rebellion, fear of discovery, fear of loss.  Ruth’s needs as a child, a person, a human were irrelovent, controls were used [and abused] to keep her where and as they wanted.  Don’t misunderstand, I am not talking of beatings, chains or caged captivity, just the strategic engineering of Ruth’s own mind set or what and who she had access to.

The consequences of the parental actions are life long and deeply ingrained, but Ruth has survived, probably better than most would and certainly better than either of her parents would.

A tough read at times but eloquently detailed with heartfelt genuine innocence of her plight.


Posted by on February 8, 2014 in Books, Review



8 responses to “Remembering Judith

  1. Bushka

    February 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Sounds like a challenging ‘read’…:)x


    • amgroves

      February 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      It was mind boggling. When Ruth got engaged and the wedding was planned etc, all of a sudden her parents said that his parents said to cancel the wedding as hubby-to-be was seriously ill and the stress will kill him – such an obvious lie so easily caught out.


  2. sula362

    February 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    does sound a tough life, but written from a survivors point of view – the daughter, it must be fascinating.


    • amgroves

      February 9, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Yes, no wonder Ruth has depression episodes. The period of time around her Mother’s death is particularly cruel, tragic and harrowing.


  3. KEGGY

    February 9, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I read a self-help book called ‘Toxic Parents’. It describes how some parents force their children to be the care takers and don’t allow them to have a childhood because of some deep-seated problem in their own past. The book states that these children have every right to be angry at what their parents did to them, whether intentionally or not. As you mentioned, their actions will have lifelong consequences for their daughter.


    • amgroves

      February 11, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Toxic indeed, and so utterly blind and deluded with it too.


  4. foxhat

    February 9, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Now you must read The Book Thief.

    Same background but I can only describe it as ‘redemptive’ You may even fall in love with Death before the end.

    Another book that will stay with you. I won’t spoil it by describing what happens.


    • amgroves

      February 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      I shall add that to my list …. thanks for the recommendation.



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