“Elizabeth Lancaster has optimism, buoyancy and a sense of humour, as well as a strong appreciation of human foibles, including her own. This is an honest account of a difficult time, but told with a very light touch.”

— Jacqueline Kent, author and member of the Finch Memoir Prize judging panel

“With sublime naturalness and an easy gift for telling her own story, Lancaster captures the unexceptional life of a middle-class Australian.

She grew up in Sydney, became an occupational therapist, worked at St Vincent’s Hospital, met a German backpacker, lived and worked for a time in London, went to Germany and settled in, returned to Australia and got married, bought a house in the inner city and had two children.     

All the while Lancaster’s mother, a typical worrying Australian mum, was hovering in the background questioning the correctness of marrying a German, insisting on a church wedding and trying to do the right thing (which was so frequently the wrong thing) to ensure her daughter’s happiness.

Anyone contemplating writing their memoir should use this as a benchmark. It is honest, fresh and written with a fine sense of balance.”

— Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald

“The title of this book intrigued me from the beginning. Marzipan and Magnolias…what a delicious invitation into first time author Elizabeth Lancaster’s life story.

Winner of the 2010 inaugural Finch Memoir Prize (beating 75 other budding authors), Marzipan and Magnolias is a touching memoir of Lancaster’s life, taking us across the sea as she connects with ‘all things Irish’ to battle multiple sclerosis while maintaining a determination to keep her diagnosis from her overbearing mother.

As a young woman, Lancaster leaves Australia to escape her eccentric mother and follow her dreams. She finds love, but her subsequent marriage and relocation is barely acknowledged by her mother. Over the years, Lancaster and her young family visit Australia, and Lancaster hopes her mother will come to accept the decisions she’s made.

I thoroughly enjoyed this honest, sad at times, yet humorously told story. Lancaster’s ongoing quest for independence, muddled with her almost overwhelming yearning for her emotionally detached mother’s approval, is movingly conveyed. I would recommend this story to almost anyone – it’s a real page-turner.”

— Sharon Athanasos is a Freelance Reviewer, Bookseller & Publisher

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.