Did I Ever Tell You?

Genevieve Kingston

Did I Ever Tell You?
Quercus Publishing
United Kingdom
30 April 2024

Did I Ever Tell You?

Genevieve Kingston

'Her messages met me like guideposts in a dark forest; if her words couldn't point the way, at least they offered the comfort of knowing someone had been there before'

Ten days before Gwen Kingston turned twelve, her beloved mother - with whom she shared a birthday - died. She left behind two chests - one for Gwen and one for her brother - filled with lovingly wrapped presents and letters marking the milestones she would miss: driver's licences, graduations and every one of their birthdays until the age of thirty. Each gift a chance to reach back into the past and, for the briefest moment, hear her voice again.

Over the last twenty years, the chest of treasures has travelled with Gwen across a continent, from state to state and apartment to apartment, growing lighter with each passing birthday. And now, just three gifts remain . . .

In this beautiful and heart-rending memoir, Gwen describes growing up in the shadow of loss, guided by what her mother left behind. Woven in is her mother's own story, and that of their whole family - tragedies foreseen and unforeseen, paths taken and not taken. It's about a mother's love for her daughter, but more than that, it is a story of marriage, family, inheritance and everything that shapes a life.


Did I Ever Tell You? emerges as a testament to resilience and love, touching on topics of grief, love and family. Genevieve (Gwen) Kingston’s mother faced a terminal cancer diagnosis when Gwen was just three years old. Despite this, her mother goes on to live another eight years. In that time, she fills a chest with letters and gifts for both Gwen and her brother Jamie, ensuring there are ways for them to receive her love and guidance throughout their major milestones up to age 30, even long after she’s gone. Through cherished memories and stories, Kingston reveals the legacy her mother has left behind.

In this memoir, Kingston deals with the emotions that accompany loss, yet also learns how to have hope and resilience amidst it all. It’s an honest and raw story, as we follow the beginning of her mother’s cancer diagnosis, and how it ends up affecting relationships in the family and ultimately Kingston’s own upbringing. Throughout the memoir we are also faced with the present Kingston, reflecting on her life now she is in her 30s and how she has begun to navigate the complexities of grief, family and mental trauma. She also considers the profound legacy her mother has left behind, still letting herself be guided by her mother’s words all these years later.

Did I Ever Tell You? serves as a universal narrative of love and loss, a testament to the human spirit and how we begin to overcome grief, finding solace in cherished memories. It’s also a testament to Kingston’s resilience, and the resilience of the human race more generally. Kingston’s memoir is beautiful, sure to tug at your heartstrings and linger in your mind for a long time.

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