Mother Country

Mother Country:Memoir of an Adopted Boy

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A revelatory true story about adoption, secrets and the need to belong

When Jeremy Harding was a child, his mother, Maureen, told him he was adopted. She described his natural parents as a Scandinavian sailor and a “little Irish girl” who worked in a grocery. It was only later, as Harding set out to look for traces of his birth mother, that he began to understand who his adoptive mother really was—and the benign make-believe world she built for herself and her little boy. Evoking a magical childhood spent in transit between west London and a decrepit houseboat on the banks of the River Thames, Mother Country is both a detective quest, as Harding searches through the public records for clues about his natural mother, and a rich social history of a lost London from the 1950s. Mother Country is a powerful true story about a man looking for the mother he had never known and finding out how little he understood the one he had grown up with.


  • Harding is a conjurer. Give him a long-since demolished stairwell, and he’ll give you a world—its sound, its smell, the feeling that you could stumble upon it still.

    Rachel CookeObserver
  • Stunning.

    Amanda HellerBoston Globe
  • Beautifully written, funny and sad, this book is simply captivating.

    Cressida ConnollyDaily Telegraph