The Leopard Hat A Daughter's Story (Paperback)
|Author: Valerie Steiker|
|In this tender, loving memoir about a unique and enduring mother-daughter relationship, Valerie Steiker evokes her magical childhood with a woman whose own losses had taught her to savor each day.|
Valerie Steiker's mother -- Gisele -- wasn't a typical American mom. She spoke with throaty Belgian Rs. She was a Jew who had somehow survived her World War II childhood in Antwerp. She had modeled in Mexico and the only shoes she ever wore were high heels. With her vitality and glittering elegance, she created a joyous childhood for Valerie. Together they tangoed through their vibrant apartment in New York, took in great art, and shared "women's hidden secrets." Gisele's premature death left Valerie (at the time a junior at Harvard) unmoored, but through mourning and remembering her mother, she grew to understand Gisele more profoundly than she ever had as a child.
From the Publisher:
In this tender loving memoir, Valerie Steiker evokes a magical childhood on the Upper East side of New York with a woman whose own losses led her to delight in family, beauty and life itself.
Valerie Steiker’s Belgian Jewish mother, Gisèle—who, as a child in Antwerp, was hidden from the Nazis—wasn’t a typical American mom. She spoke with throaty Belgian Rs and wore only high heels. Before her marriage, she had studied acting with Lee Strasburg and been a model in Mexico. With her vitality and elegance, she created a joyous childhood for Valerie and her sister. Together they tangoed through their vibrant Manhattan apartment, took in great art, and shared “women’s hidden secrets.” Gisèle’s premature death left Valerie (at the time a junior at Harvard) unmoored, but in grieving and in finding her own path to womanhood, Valerie would ultimately grow to understand Gisèle more profoundly than she ever had as a child. Beautifully evocative of a glamourous and now-vanished world, The Leopard Hat is an extraordinary memoir about the warm and indelible bond between mother and daughter.
A memoirist portrays her mother in vivid detail as she recalls their travels together abroad and family life at home in their tchotchke-filled Upper West Side apartment. Steiker is a former writer for the New Yorker.
"[A] rich, elegantly understated chronicle...." 03/04/2002 Kirkus Reviews
"A luminously written debut...." 03/15/2002 San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"In THE LEOPARD HAT Steiker produces some lovely reading out of material as seemingly frivolous as the multihued tassels that hung on each doorknob of Gisele's home." - Carol Doup Muller 06/16/2002