Published by Sceptre 10th April 2008 £14.99
‘Pilgrim State is an extraordinary memoir that may become a word-of-mouth hit in the same way as Andrea Ashworth’s
Once in a House on Fire or Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood.’
Kate Bradley in the Bookseller
Dorothy’s story opens in 1951 at the Pilgrim State mental facility in New York State. She has come to New York from Jamaica to study medicine but she has been forcibly sectioned and is battling to keep her children and her sanity. She will struggle with both all her life. Dorothy and her children return to Jamaica before finally making a home in London in the early 60s. After the vibrancy of Harlem and the warmth of Jamaica, London appears grey and unwelcoming. Here they face prejudice, poverty and separation but they make the city their home, a place where their love and ability to find hope and joy even in the most desperate circumstances can finally take root.
Pilgrim State celebrates place, the life-affirming nature of family and the bonds between mothers and daughters that can never be broken. Haunting, powerful and beautifully written, Dorothy’s story resonates long after the final page.
Jacqueline Walker arrived in Britain in 1959. She has been a teacher, a mother of three, taught creative writing as well has having completed two Arvon writing courses. Pilgrim State is her first book.