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Unraveled: The True Story of a Woman Who Dared to Become a Different Kind of Mother Hardcover – May 3, 2005

3.1 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Housden found motherhood a continual struggle. She yearned to be the dutiful and diligent wife her demanding husband, Claude, wanted. When their second child, three-year-old Hannah, developed cancer, Housden's dreams of a perfect life vanished. Hannah's death soon after the birth of Housden's third child provoked a renewed desire to rectify her marital problems, and she and Claude had a fourth baby. But the wounds of Hannah's death hadn't healed for either parent. And then Housden (Hannah's Gift) met writer Roger Housden and found joy for the first time in years. She divorced Claude and allowed him primary custody of their children, believing that would allow her to be a more loving, attentive mother. Housden's emotional tale alternates between past and present, exploring her choices and revealing her determination to succeed as a writer. Throughout, Hannah's influence over Housden is palpable, and the sections relating to Hannah have the most resonance. With a stronger sense of self, Housden moved cross-country to live with Roger, visiting her children on weekends. Housden's poignant, raw book has no easy answers for life's difficult moments, but her bravery will soothe those enduring similar trials.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Maria Housden gives the rest of us permission to live lives of truth. Unraveled once again proves that hers is a voice to be reckoned with. She brilliantly and with subtle lyricism negotiates the shoals of love and loss, but it’s more than that. . . . Housden consistently leaves her readers wiser, less alone, and cradling a palpable sense of the very good possibility of triumph.” —Suzanne Finnamore, author of Otherwise Engaged and The Zygote Chronicles

“Maria Housden probes the rewarding/maddening underside of what it means to be a wife and mother. In her brave quest for self-fulfillment, she empowers others to challenge expectations. Her gentle wisdom is a gift to us all.” —Suzy Farbman, author of Back from Betrayal

“Learning to live without knowing, accepting uncertainty and yet following the heart’s yearning and wisdom. These are the lessons Maria Housden so elegantly shares in this deeply personal recounting of her life. Her words have made me a better woman.” —Arielle Ford, author of Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Lover

Unraveled does for mothers everywhere what M. Scott Peck did for truth seekers in The Road Less Traveled. Absolutely brilliant.” —Mark Matousek, author of Sex Death Enlightenment and The Boy He Left Behind

“Housden has taken all of her pain and accepted its place and purpose in her life, and now shares her inspiration with the world. If you are a mother struggling to know who you are, this book will inspire you to your core.” —Tara Paterson, founder of JustForMom.com

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400054168
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400054169
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,293,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With a never-ending tsunami of parental separations washing up ever more children onto the beach of one-parent homes, intensely candid memoirs like this one have much to add to our understanding of what happens when the nuclear family splits apart. However much you may disagree with Maria's risky decision to cede custody of her three young children to her husband, I believe she deserves credit for great courage in sharing with us her unusual story, knowing that so many will find her actions indefensible. While some may accept her rationale for allowing her husband to retain the marital home while she moved to an inexpensive nearby apartment, her subsequent relocation to California for her lover's sake seriously distances her from her kids in NJ and raises many questions about her judgment. Nonetheless, we remember that this is a woman who had suffered the unimaginable loss of her 3-year old daughter to cancer; once freed post-divorce from housewife/mom burdens, Housden was, moreover, successful in turning her terrible tragedy into "Hannah's Gift", a best-seller that many regard as an inspirational gift to parents coping with a child's death. In short, this is a very complicated picture of a woman trapped between responsibilities to her children and a search for personal fulfillment that may require her leaving them. No doubt written as a rebuttal to those who insist that a Mom's only place is at home, I found Housden -- for all her new-agey soulfulness -- far too cursory in responding to the profound questions her story raises. For example, she describes her reaction when first hearing her husband's divorce proposal that he become primary custodian: "I felt as if life was being squeezed out of my heart. 'Are you crazy?' [she exclaimed].Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
There are times in life when it is best to quit while you are ahead and perhaps this author should have paid heed to that advice. While I loved 'Hannah's Gift', sadly I did not enjoy this book at all. I agree with the premise that there are times when givng the father primary custody is the best thing to do but........I am not sure this is one of those situations. She shows her ex-husband to be physically abusive, noncommunicative, unsupportive and seemingly unaware of the emotional needs of others and yet this is who she leaves her children with? I suspect the hired nanny ended up being the primary caregiver because I found it difficult to imagine her ex-husband stepping up to the plate.

In my opinion, Maria seems to have a very cavalier attitude towards childbearing and I found this disturbing. She realizes early on that her marriage is troubled yet keeps having child after child, seemingly on the spur of the moment.

Clearly, she is her children's main source of comfort and emotional support then she leaves them to 'find herself' as an artist. Anyway you slice it, this would have to be devastating for a very young child. I have to agree with her friend who called her 'selfish'.

The part about hooking up with this guy while she is on a retreat that is supposed to help her heal after her daughter's death was just plain creepy. And it read like a Harlequin Romance novel. I can only imagine the complete and utter devastation the death of a child brings, and I kept trying to see her actions through the lens of a still grieving parent, but ended up just as puzzled by her choices.

In the end I would have to say," No Maria. It wasn't woth leaving your children to write this book".
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Format: Hardcover
There is simply no reason to buy "Unraveled" -- there is nothing inspiring, educational or even hopeful in this book. It is like reading a bad blog. The author is self-absorbed to the point of absurdity, and nothing in the book gave me any idea how to cope with the tragedy in my own life better or how to live the life I was meant to live. Losing your child is not an excuse to do whatever you want or to abandon your other children. I know this, because I too lost a 3 year old daughter to cancer, and am now going through a divorce. As for the reader who asked, in her review, why Maria wrote this book, the answer is obvious: the money from "Hannah's Gift" was running out, and she needed the income. The fact is, if she had nothing better to say, she would have been better off not writing any more books and going back to her old career in finance.
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Format: Hardcover
The author's first book, "Hannah's Gift" has a wonderful natural flow to it, while this book seems to go overboad with her constant "insights". Her analogies are a bit overboard, "a little paper boat of hope on the river of the world". The thing that bothered me the most is her new aged "wisdom" of justifying all her selfish actions (committing adultery actually made her feel closer to God!). Every other sentance is "my life", "my wants", "my dreams", "my being". "Me, me, me" and "I, I, I" permeate the entire book. She simply can't be the "woman I know I was meant to be" and "the life I know I was meant to live" and all other sorts of nonsense without LEAVING HER CHILDREN to live 3,000 miles away from them to live in California (another one of HER dreams). Her youngest was only 3 years old! That is undeniably SELFISH and no amount of psycho-babble can excuse her behavior. When you have children, you raise them! She calls herself "brave" and has loads of "courage" for leaving to live her new life. She travels to Moracco for a spiritual walk. She moves to England. She basically does whatever the hell she wants & sugarcoats her behavior with her lame insights.....all the while, her kids have no mother! She does "visit" them every other weekend. Big deal! She also has the nerve to criticise her ex-husband for no longer wanting to speak or see her after their divorce. Well, I don't blame him! If you loved Hannah's Gift and feel you must read this book, get it from the library like I did. I'm glad I didn't fork out any money to encourage more books like this one from the author.
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