Our Revolution: A Mother and Daughter at Midcentury
W.W. Norton, 2020
A daughter’s memoir of her mother evolves beautifully into a narrative of the far-reaching changes in women’s lives in the twentieth century.
With the sweep of an epic novel, Our Revolution follows Jenny Moore, a charismatic and brilliant woman whose life changed as she became engaged in the great twentieth-century movements for peace and social justice. Born into Boston society in 1923 and the first woman in her family to go to college, she set aside writing ambitions to marry Paul Moore, a decorated war hero who became Bishop Paul Moore. Together they had nine children—”I wanted a baseball team,” Jenny said, “or a small orchestra.”
Rejecting a conventional path, the Moores moved to an inner-city parish in Jersey City and began their family while collaborating on a socially radical, multiracial ministry. In 1968, Jenny published her first book. “Everything was just starting,” she protested—meaning an independent life inspired in part by the new feminist movement—when she was diagnosed with cancer at fifty.
Jenny bequeathed to her eldest daughter, Honor, then a twenty-seven-year-old poet, her unfinished writing. As Honor pursued her own career as a writer, she was haunted by her mother’s bequest. Decades later, she delves into Jenny’s pages and forges a new relationship with the passionate seeker and truth teller she finds there. Our Revolution is a vivid, absorbing account of two women navigating the twentieth century and a daughter’s story of the mother who shaped her life as an artist and a woman.