The Home Scar by Kathleen MacMahon

How is a mother’s life remembered after she’s gone? This is the question I ask in The Home Scar, as adult siblings Cassie and Christo make a trip back to Connemara, where they spent a single summer as children with their mum before she died. Cassie is a sculptor, Christo is a mathematician, and they see things very differently. Even the childhood they shared is remembered by them in very different ways.

The Home Scar jacket

In writing The Home Scar, I was interested in the various and incomplete ways we recall the past, and how inadequate we are as witnesses to the events we’ve lived through. Cassie and Christo each have differing memories of their mother and disparate feelings about her. Their lives have been complicated by her sudden and premature death, and their reluctance to discuss her is an obstacle to their happiness. They can’t even bear to call her ‘Mum’, referring only ever to ‘her.’

The strangely eerie landscape of Connemara is a character in this novel as much as its setting. The curious absence of trees fascinated me, especially when I discovered that the whole area would once have been covered by them. Those long-gone trees have left a scar on the landscape, just as the absence of a mother is a scar on the lives of her adult children. The dark histories of Connemara are written into Cassie and Christo’s story, traumas passed down from generation to generation.

Cassie and Christo’s trip to Connemara is a journey into the past. It’s a quest to recover the memory of their mother and cope with the trauma of losing her. It’s also a way of re-establishing the intimacy they enjoyed as children but lost as adults. The Home Scar is about the ghosts that inhabit our lives and our landscapes. It’s about the process of making peace with those ghosts. It’s about making space among them for love.  

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