Reviews: Daughters of Empire

“Daughters of Empire: A Memoir of a Year in Britain and Beyond” by Jane Satterfield shows the author’s knack for literature and language. The conciseness of Satterfield’s use of language is enough to leave the reader craving more. The rhythms of her sentences and prose make this a pithy piece of work. Satterfield shows that she truly is a natural born poet.

In her memoir, Satterfield recounts the year she spent in England, her motherland. This memoir not only represents a woman coming of age, but it also shows her growth and maturing mind. Paced proficiently, Satterfield reflects on her memories, thus making it easier for her discernment of forgetting England in order to become a woman who can support herself mentally, physically, and financially.

“I would now have to forego would be eclipsed by the birth of a child and hope of a ‘normal’ future.” This shows a unique view of childbirth from Satterfield. For example, it was not until I had the opportunity to teach children in elementary school that I realized I was an adult and needed to “grow up.” For Satterfield, it was the birth of her daughter that made a hazy world seem clear.

The poetic voice of Satterfield rings out throughout the memoir as a whole because each sentence can stand-alone; for example, Satterfield says, “As young Catholic, American women—clad in kilts, buttoned-up oxfords, and knee-highs, those uniforms we perpetually readjusted when safely out of our elder’s sight—what models did we have?”

This historical account given by Satterfield is fueled with interrogative theory. She poses questions over and over to transition between thoughts and paragraphs. This is an effective device. The reader is able to glimpse into the thoughts and reflections of the author.

The most poignant statement that is written in her year account of living in England comes from Satterfield’s friend- Alison. “There are those—ignore them—,” she’d say, “who’ll never see you as more than this child’s mother.” Satterfield later in the book simplifies this statement saying, “I’d landed in a world no literature course could glamorize.”

All in all, Satterfield’s memoir is not just merely an account of living in England, but an ode to women bringing children into the world through broken marriages and low finances. Satterfield’s amazing writing techniques bring about various tones in her voice ranging from sad, funny, and serious. Satterfield takes her memories and make them memorable for the reader.

Satterfield says, “The photographer as well as the writer must be alert to all the unexpected and act quickly to capture this transitory world,” and she does just that using her daughter and England to show the maturation of a punk, English music loving woman influenced by her upbringing and troubled relationships.


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