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The winner of the 2010 Finch Memoir Prize is a beguiling, sensitive and humorous story of a young woman's difficult relationship with her emotionally distant, and somewhat eccentric mother whilst hiding the early signs of her own incurable illness. the winner of the 2010 Finch Memoir Prize is a beguiling, sensitive and humorous story of a young woman's difficult relationship with her emotionally distant, and somewhat eccentric mother - whilst hiding the early signs of her own incurable illness. Elizabeth Lancaster's memoir is the winner of the Finch Memoir Prize, which attracted seventy-five submissions in its first year. Selected for its 'literary quality', MARZIPAN AND MAGNOLIAS was applauded for the author's warm and humorous portrayal of her relationship with her mother and the onset of her own unexpected illness. Struggling to escape from the unconventional and slightly eccentric nature of her mother Helen, Elizabeth travels overseas, where she meets thomas, who is German. Learning to live apart from her family, Elizabeth kws if she continues her relationship with thomas and stays overseas, Helen's reaction will be icy. Nevertheless she and thomas decide to get married and live in Berlin. Inevitably the relationship with her mother is fractured. It is in Berlin, while eating marzipan, that Elizabeth experiences her first symptoms of the disease that is developing within her and will several years to diagse: multiple sclerosis. Upon their return to Australia, Elizabeth's relationship with Helen thaws over a mutual love of gardening. However, thomas is unexpectedly transferred to New York and Elizabeth has sooner arrived then she has to pack up and start all over again in a new country. Her relationship with her mother disintegrates, to the point where Helen does t tell Elizabeth that her father has died. In New York Elizabeth is formally diagsed with MS but decides t to tell her mother. then the family is once again transferred back to Australia. Elizabeth feels powerless, subject to the whim of thomas's employer and to her own medical condition, t to mention the sporadic withdrawal of her mother's affection. Back in Australia, Elizabeth is hospitalised with an attack of MS and Helen is finally told. It takes all of Elizabeth's will power t to submit to the role of invalid and Helen's need to control her. In coming to terms with her illness Elizabeth also manages to accept her mother for who she is and finds some peace in their relationship.
Elizabeth Lancaster began her working life as an occupational therapist in Australia until she unexpectedly found herself in a writing course in New York, whilst living there with her husband and two children. After she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, writing became essential in her acceptance of and coming to terms with the unpredictable nature of her condition.