THE BLACK PENCIL WOMAN: A PORTRAIT OF MY MOTHER, by Ros Holland. Published by Austin Macauley Publishers (www. £9.99. Softback.

TOLD with honesty and adept written skill, these memoirs detail the author’s life dealing with multiple episodes of grief and struggle. They present a child’s understanding of sickness, class struggles, northern community culture and coming of age within a family that is wrought with difficulties.

With reflections from the now-adult author, this story reveals how fragile the human psyche is in the face of despair and loss, yet how determination and a strong sense of self can overcome these and find comfort.