I have just read a fascinating memoir. The writer is a novelist and essayist in her own right, but in this book she concentrates on her own life and the way it was (mostly adversely) affected by the machinations of a manipulative very much older man, who twisted her thinking and her perceptions of herself in ways that tainted her life for years and years, even though she only lived with him for a year before he unceremoniously tossed her out.
It wasn’t until her own daughter (from a later marriage) was 18 that she really confronted what had been done to her, “the dark side of the Pygmalion myth” as another woman writer remarked.
There is no doubt that her account keeps as close as a memoir can to the truth – she had the man’s letters, and carbon copies of her replies to remind her of his manipulations, after all. And since her memoir was published, there has been evidence that she wasn’t the only 18 year old that was prey to this man’s colossal arrogance and ego. (He was 53 when they met).
Yet, when she published her memoir, many people villified her for making such things public. The man was known to be intensely reclusive, hating publicity of any kind. She was attacked in the media, brutally, for daring to write the memoir.
So what do you think? Does a writer have a right to tell the story of her own life, even if those she writes about don’t come off very well in the account?