The Beautiful Mother Author, Katherine Scholes on Tanzania, On and Off the Page

The Beautiful Mother Author, Katherine Scholes on Tanzania, On and Off the Page

Why did you choose the particular setting for The Beautiful Mother?

With its universal themes the novel could have been set anywhere. But I decided on an archaeologist’s camp, where members of a famous family of researchers are hunting for evidence about the evolution of humans. I knew this would give me a chance to reveal exactly how we came to be the people we are today. (Why is childbirth so painful and dangerous? Why are human babies so helpless, compared to other mammals?) I could look at how our hunter-gatherer past is reflected in the personal qualities we have evolved to possess, and discover what lessons can  be learned from people like the Hadza, who still follow this healthy, sustainable lifestyle. I’d be telling a story, and discovering truths about myself at the same time.

The meaning of ‘family’ and ‘home’ are concepts at the heart of this book. How would you describe what ‘family’ and ‘home’ mean to you?

I was born in Tanzania of British parents, and our family ended up living in Australia. Perhaps because we moved around so much, between different cultures, we are all very close – our sense of home is tied to the family, rather than one place. As migrants we had a choice between making do with a very small family group in Australia (with all our blood relatives overseas) or creating a tribe that included others. We’ve always gone with the second option. We love having visitors and extra housemates. We cook up huge meals and gather everyone round the table. Our past life in Tanzania still influences us; we have a tradition of singing a Swahili song before we begin to eat. Guests sometimes find it surprising, but they quickly join in. The ritual is a reminder of exactly what home and family means to us.

What do you hope readers take away from The Beautiful Mother?

I want readers to be left with the sense that they’ve travelled to a faraway place and brought back new ideas and perspectives that inspire meaning in their own world. I also want the power of the story and the presence of the characters to linger, long after the final page is turned. I hope readers are left pondering their own relationships with their children, partner, mother-in-law, work colleagues, even the animals in their lives. They are all a part of the story of change.

 

 

Reviews

You'll Want to Savour The Beautiful Mother by Katherine Scholes

Review | Extract

14 April 2020

You'll Want to Savour The Beautiful Mother by Katherine Scholes

    An Unbreakable Bond: Review of The Beautiful Mother by Katherine Scholes

    Review | Our Review

    6 April 2020

    An Unbreakable Bond: Review of The Beautiful Mother by Katherine Scholes

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        Synopsis

        'You are her mother at this moment. The future is another time.'In a remote corner of Tanzania, Essie Lawrence lives with her husband in an archaeologist’s camp. One morning a chance encounter with two strangers sees her making a rash promise. When she returns home to the research base, she has a baby in her arms. Essie is to care for the little girl until the coming of the rains. And then hand her back.The organised world of Magadi Research Camp is turned upside down. As her heart opens up to new life, Essie is drawn into the ancient wisdom of the Hadza, the last hunter-gatherer tribe in East Africa. And she is led back to memories of her own mother and her first home on the island of Tasmania, at the far end of the world. But there is a price to pay. Essie's marriage, her career - everything she's worked for - is put at risk.On the shores of the flamingo lake, personal stories are played out alongside the Lawrences’ quest to find the origins of the human species. Nightmares and dreams go hand in hand as past and present merge. What is real and what will turn to dust? And after a season of being a mother, will Essie be able to survive the hardest challenge of all? To love, and then let go …An exquisite and heart-piercing story of one woman’s bond with a baby, The Beautiful Mother will resonate with every parent, crossing time, place and culture. It is an unforgettable exploration of what it really means to be a member of the human family, revealing the deep need we all have to find our own tribe.
        Katherine Scholes
        About the author

        Katherine Scholes

        Katherine Scholes was born in Tanzania, East Africa, the daughter of a missionary doctor and an artist. She has fond memories of travelling with her parents and three siblings on long safaris to remote areas where her father operated a clinic from his Land Rover. When she was ten, the family left Tanzania, moving first to England and then settling permanently in Tasmania. As an adult, Katherine moved to Melbourne with her film-maker husband. The two worked together for many years, writing books and making films. They have now returned to Tasmania, where they live on the edge of the sea with their two sons. Katherine is the author of four international bestsellers: The Rain Queen, Make Me An Idol, The Stone Angel, The Hunter's Wife andThe Lioness.

        Books by Katherine Scholes

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