Carroll, Linda 1944–
Carroll, Linda 1944–
PERSONAL: Born 1944; adopted daughter of Jack and Louella Risi; biological daughter of Paula Fox (a writer); married; children: five.
CAREER: Writer, memoirist, and therapist.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Return to Essence: Seven Stages of a Woman's Spiritual Journey, expected 2007.
SIDELIGHTS: Author, therapist, and memoirist Linda Carroll grew up as an adopted child in an affluent but emotionally difficult family setting. In Her Mother's Daughter: A Memoir of the Mother I Never Knew and of My Daughter, Courtney Love, Carroll tells the story of her own life, her search for her birth mother, and the tumultuous family connection between herself and her five children, one of whom is the controversial rock star Courtney Love. "At the core of her memoir is a mother-daughter legacy spanning three generations, rife with those elements that make such a story archetypal: conflict, love, loss and redemption," remarked Neva Chonin in the San Francisco Chronicle. Carroll describes her early life and how she was adopted by a wealthy couple, Louella and Jack Risi. Though they provided for her material comfort, she notes, they did not offer her emotional growth and stability. Her adoptive mother was emotionally distant, and her adopted father was sexually abusive. Following her rough and rebellious teenage years, she became friendly with a group of bohemian intellectuals in San Francisco, California. One of these individuals became Carroll's first husband and the father of her first child, who would later be known as Courtney Love. Carroll subsequently married twice more and gave birth to four more children. Her relationship with Courtney, however, was always tumultuous. In fact, the two became estranged and no longer spoke to one another. Years later, when Courtney was pregnant with her first child, Carroll began searching for her own birth mother, Paula Fox, a noted memoirist and children's author. Ultimately, as Carroll developed a relationship with her birth mother and watched helplessly as Courtney edged closer to self-destruction, she came to terms with her own dual role of mother and daughter and with the sometimes unpleasant but galvanizing past that forged her.
A Kirkus Reviews critic called the book "a surprisingly evocative account" and an "unassuming and reflective coming-of-age memoir." Similarly, Booklist reviewer Kristine Huntley called Carroll's book "a thoughtful memoir of one woman's coming-of-age in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s." A Library Journal reviewer, Amanda Glasbrenner, commented that the book is "a compelling read that delicately examines the nature of family, identity, and the links between them." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "Carroll's tender wit and poignant honesty … will keep readers soldiering through this often exhaustive history."
Carroll told CA: "In my memoir, Her Mother's Daughter, I worked very hard to show my adopted parents as the multidimensional people they were. My mother, Louella, although difficult and critical, was also tremendously loyal, gracious with her many friends, and genuinely wanted the best for me. My father, Jack, although he molested me as a young child, was also a man admired for his kindness, wit, and generosity. He remains one of the most generous people I have ever known. While I began life estranged from both of my mothers, I have been blessed with reconciliation with both.
"I resist this culture which tries to make people 'ba' and 'good,' when we are all woven of so many complexities and they all exist within us at once. As my birth mother, Paula, once remarked, 'Good things don't take away the bad, but bad things don't deny the good, either.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Carroll, Linda, Her Mother's Daughter: A Memoir of the Mother I Never Knew and of My Daughter, Courtney Love, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2005.
Booklist, December 1, 2005, Kristine Huntley, review of Her Mother's Daughter, p. 11.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2005, review of Her Mother's Daughter, p. 1168.
Library Journal, November 1, 2005, Amanda Glasbrenner, review of Her Mother's Daughter, p. 84.
New York Observer, February 6, 2006, Tim Appelo, "The Sins of the Mother: Genetic Clues to Courtney Love," review of Her Mother's Daughter, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, October 3, 2005, review of Her Mother's Daughter, p. 57.
San Francisco Chronicle, February 5, 2006, Neva Chonin, "Mothers & Daughters," review of Her Mother's Daughter.