A genealogical detective story and tale of lost love. Mary often wondered about her maternal grandmother, Eileen Maud, who died in Great Britain long before Mary’s birth in Pasadena, California. No one dared speak about Eileen Maud in the presence of Mary’s grandfather’s second wife, Fay. The quiet and usually preoccupied Prynce Hopkins appeared to deny his first wife’s existence.
As a young adult, Mary uncovered a scrapbook and learned Prynce secretly archived treasured keepsakes and love poems Eileen Maud had written. When Mary’s mother learned about the scrapbook, she had it destroyed. Then Mary sought out her grandfather’s journals from 1921 to 1933 about the time he married and lost Eileen Maud, only to find the important details mysteriously clipped out, censored. “What secret is my family keeping?” Mary wanted to know. “Is this why my aging mother became so bitter and could be so mean?”
Forty years later, Mary traveled to England in search of her grandmother’s grave. She dug through dusty family records and library archives to piece together the moving love story of her wealthy, American and eccentric grandfather and her traditional, working-class English Midlands grandmother. In the process, Mary learned how, with Upton Sinclair, Prynce Hopkins supported California’s labor uprising in the 1920s, how he became involved with the early psychoanalytical movement in London in the 1930s with Dr. Ernest Jones and Mrs. Melanie Klein, about the progressive schools he built in Paris and Santa Barbara, and why his pacifist and socialist causes led to Eileen Maud divorcing him. After six years of research, Mary nearly came to some wrong conclusions. Then the missing cut-outs from the journal surfaced.
The Search for My Abandoned Grandmother weaves Mary Ames Mitchell’s genealogical detective story with her grandfather’s personal narrative of his life with his first wife. With generosity and tenderness, she unravels spiritual insights and truths about social obligation, personal integrity, and family love.