Where You End and I Begin

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What to expect

The riveting story of a daughter and her mother, and the way acts of harm can be confused with acts of love.

When eight-year-old Leah’s parents get divorced, her mother, Cessie, flees her conventional life as a suburban housewife in search of a glamorous big city career in journalism. In the chaotic years that follow Cessie lurches from one apartment, job and toxic romance to the next, with her adoring daughter in tow. Cessie describes her parenting style as ‘benign neglect’ and their family motto ‘Commitment sucks the life right out of you’ is tacked up on every rental fridge.

In the aftermath of a disturbing sexual experience at a pool party, Leah finds herself crippled with anxiety. When she confides in her mother, Cessie makes an astonishing disclosure in turn, one that alters everything: from the age of twelve to fifteen she was in a clandestine relationship with her middle-aged, married riding instructor. The damage inflicted by the ‘Horseman’, Cessie explains, is the reason for all her regrettable life choices – marriage, divorce and even motherhood itself.

Both women spend the ensuing decades haunted by the spectre of the Horseman, until they decide to investigate what became of him – an ill-conceived quest that will test the bonds of love and redefine their relationship forever.

Written with unflinching candour and wit, Where You End and I Begin explores the dark reverberations of victim narratives and the power of filial love.

(P) 2022 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

Critics Review

  • Riveting and ruthlessly incisive, this book is a deep, courageous excavation of the subterranean, passionate layers between a mother and a daughter and the histories that shape our futures. I could not and would not put it down.

    SARAH POLLEY, author of Run Towards the Danger
  • If Edward St. Aubyn were to write an episode of Euphoria, it might come close to Leah McLaren’s astonishing memoir. Ecstatically wild and weirdly fun, this book has me praying that it is the first installment of a series–and that I’ll be seeing more of this latchkey kid and her mother, both of whom are brilliantly flawed, and make cardboard cutouts out of the rest of us. McLaren has written a poignant and brave modern gothic. I am blown away, madly in love.

    LAUREN MECHLING, author of How Could She
  • The mother/daughter relationship is almost impossible to be honest about. Especially if the connection is as complicated as this one: a tangle of love, jealousy, selfishness, narcissism, yearning, and resistance. But Leah McLaren goes there, and the results are never less than riveting. You may wince; you may blush. But you will see your own parent/child relationships anew.

    JOHANNA SCHNELLER, co-author of The Last Doctor
  • Where You End and I Begin is a burningly true and gorgeously written memoir of a complex mother and daughter relationship. At its heart, this is a freshly told story by a great writer about an under-parented generation, where children were free to realize themselves, but also perhaps to become lost in the process. You’re in good hands with Leah as she guides you through the pain and joy of her unfettered childhood.

    CATHRIN BRADBURY, author of The Bright Side
  • Mordant, clear-eyed, loving, devastating. Richly evocative, propulsive, and so well written-her prose sparkles like sunshine over deep water.

    AIDA EDEMARIAM, author of The Wife's Tale
  • Raw and beautiful-I was riveted all the way through.

    ANNIE MACMANUS, author of Mother Mother

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