Family Scandals


121 pages
ISBN 0-919754-45-7
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Beryl Baigent

Beryl Baigent is a poet; her published collections include Absorbing the
Dark, Hiraeth: In Search of Celtic Origins, Triptych: Virgins, Victims,
Votives, and Mystic Animals.


Sharon Nelson’s ninth book begins with a preface in which the author
reveals some of her sources and metaphors. “I name and frame sexual
exploration and experience as dance,” she informs her readers. She
sees dance as a “form of ... ritualized communication” and believes
that “the passage from girlhood to womanhood deserves some ritual
significance.” A 10-page essay, “Controlling Metaphors, Myths, and
Illusions,” offers the reader pre-Christian and biblical background
from which Nelson sets up the bad girl/good girl dichotomy that is
followed throughout the book.

It is not clear how much of this book is nonfictional, nor does it
matter. Nelson may be speaking of a real mother/aunt or of archetypal
women. Mother/Eve is the obedient wife who lives in the ordered garden
and contributes to patriarchy through her acquiescence. Aunt/Lilith,
Adam’s first wife, enjoys chaos, wilderness, and erotic dreams. The
protagonist, although taught to suppress and repress, chooses to reveal
all and liberate her sisters and their daughters rather than “repeat
the patterns and continue the patriarchal deception.” The book’s
five sections trace the protagonist’s evolution from sensuous
childhood, to repressed adolescence, to full-blown feminist sexuality.

Family Scandals is recommended particularly for those women who are
still grasping for an understanding of their role in the patriarchy.



Nelson, Sharon H., “Family Scandals,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,