Pure Flame: A Legacy

Farrar. Jun. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780374238704. $28. MEMOIR
Canadian author Orange uses her sometimes-fraught relationship with her mother to explore feminism and the mother-daughter bond. Orange’s mother exemplified a particular kind of second-wave feminism: she earned an MBA, secured a series of well-paid, high-powered jobs, and spent most of her time working in Toronto while her husband and children stayed behind in London, Ontario. Lacking any close relationship with her mother through most of her life, Orange began a rapprochement when her mother was in her 70s and ill with a lung disease acquired after years of neglecting health in favor of work. Her mother did not consider herself a feminist; she simply wanted financial security and recognition for her talents. Through sporadic visits and many text messages, Orange came to understand and empathize with her mother’s decisions. As her mother’s health declined, their relationship became closer. In this memoir, Orange considers her grandmother, her mother, and her own artistic career, and brings the lives of three women across the 20th and 21st centuries into focus.
VERDICT Part memoir, part social commentary, this book is a meditation on the evolving role of white women in Western society. Especially of interest for social science and gender studies collections.
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