Born in 1958 in Nottingham, England to a young unmarried Irish couple, Yvonne was about to be given up for adoption when her grandmother rescued her. For four years she lived happily with her maternal grandmother until her parents reappeared. Now married and with a baby son and daughter, they reclaimed Yvonne because her father wanted the child benefit money. Frightened and confused, Yvonne had to leave the safety and warmth of her grandmother’s home for the chaos and neglect of her parents’ house.
Over the years that followed her cruel, heartless and feckless father terrorized his wife and children and abused Yvonne. When she was ten, he forced a tin opener into her small body to ‘prepare’ her for full intercourse, which continued until she fled the house at sixteen. Her mother, exhausted by hard work and frequent pregnancy, gave birth to another four children while seeming oblivious to the abuse that Yvonne was suffering.
When Yvonne was fourteen, she came home from school to find that her mother had left with the four younger children, leaving her three older children behind. Feeling abandoned and unwanted, Yvonne, her brother and sister, had no choice but to remain with their father, whose fury at his wife’s betrayal only fueled his drinking and abuse of Yvonne. Eventually her mother moved back to the area and Yvonne and her sister were able to escape. Along with her younger siblings they crowded into her mother’s tiny two-bed house and Yvonne got her first job, in a boutique.
On holiday in Dartmouth, Yvonne met twenty-one-year-old Garry. They fell in love and after she went home, they took turns visiting one another. Unable to cope with the long-distance relationship or to imagine that someone could really love her, Yvonne parted from Garry and soon afterwards married Scott, a much older man who worked for an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia. After a brief honeymoon they flew to Saudi Arabia where, imprisoned in a small apartment in the company compound, Yvonne realized she had married a stranger. After a passionate affair with an Arab who hired her to work for him, Yvonne escaped back to England, only to rush headlong into another marriage. Alfie was a good-time guy, a crooner with a flashy car and a love of parties. She fell for his smooth-talk and moved in with him. It wasn’t until she was pregnant, when a young woman approached them in the street and said, “Hello, Dad,” that Yvonne discovered Alfie had been married before and had four adult children and two grandchildren.
The birth of Yvonne’s daughter Kelly was a pivotal moment; she adored her small daughter and vowed to keep her safe, no matter what. But the marriage to Alfie was over. Yvonne moved to the United States, where her two sisters had already settled. There she married a troubled Vietnam veteran. After a few months Yvonne was called back to England, to be at the bedside of her seriously sick mother. Following her mother’s death, at the age of fifty-four, Yvonne headed back to the States to reconcile with her husband. Tragically, before they could meet, he was killed when his sports car crashed. Dazed by the turn of events, Yvonne was given her green card, the right to remain in the US, and she moved into an apartment in Santa Monica. Not long afterwards she met her fourth husband, Ronan, a film set electrician. The marriage lasted longer than her other marriages, but after a few years Yvonne and Ronan parted, though Kelly has remained close to Ronan’s daughter, her sister Amy. The separation came about as Yvonne suffered a series of appalling mental and physical health traumas that could be traced back to the abuse, including the gradual loss of most of her teeth as a result of grinding them, a habit she had developed as a deeply anxious child.
Yvonne’s father died and a few years later, in an act that was deeply healing, Yvonne had the wording on her father’s headstone changed so that the word ‘gentleman’ was erased from it. As a result, along with a great deal of therapy and her work to help others who have suffered, Yvonne began to feel whole again. In 2010, thirty-six years after they first met, Yvonne went back to Dartmouth for a few months. There she met Garry and they were reunited. This time she was ready to say yes and, passionately and deeply in love, Yvonne and Garry married. It had taken a lifetime of mistakes and heartache, but Yvonne had finally learned to accept herself and had found her own happy ending.
The book is 80K words and the complete manuscript is available on request. Thank You
Idea: Plotting past trauma and the subsequent healing process is a difficult undertaking for many writers, and this author’s memoir thoughtfully tracks Ash's journey.
Prose: The writing style is digestible, even, and logical for a memoir format.
Originality: Like many survivors of abuse, Ash explores the trauma of her past and where the healing process has taken her in this personal account of her journey.
Character Development/Execution: The people central to Ash's story become familiar throughout the memoir and are given the attention necessary to see their impact and changes on Ash's life.
Date Submitted: October 10, 2021