Unconditional Love: A Memoir of Filmmaking and Motherhood by Jocelyn Moorhouse
You’ve seen her beautiful movies and you have rejoiced that an Australian female director has won so many awards and accolades for her work. You may have remarked that Jocelyn Moorhouse’s most recent work, The Dressmaker, managed to convey the depths of Rosalie Ham’s novel while keeping Australian humour and landscape central to plot. Of course her memoir Unconditional Love talks about this and her extraordinary skill, but mainly this is a story about being a mother and for that I am most grateful.
Moorhouse has four children, two of whom have autism, and this fascinating and approachable account is the story of a family. Moorhouse does not hide from the despair she and her beloved partner, P.J. Hogan, have experienced, nor does she shy away from the impact of living with two wonderful people with especially high needs. She did not work for eighteen years. At times they had no money. She gave up much to ensure that her son and daughter understood family and felt loved. This makes for an inspirational read, but it also serves a higher purpose: Moorhouse and Hogan’s lives are testament to the imperative sacrifices of parenthood.
Many readers will enjoy this book because it provides background stories to her movies: how they were realised, what the actors were like, the festivals they all attended, and the search for funding. Whilst I love industry gossip as much as the next person, I read this book for Moorhouse’s experience of motherhood. Stories like hers are crucial to our understanding of what being a mother means in our modern society. Unconditional Love is primarily about surrender and acceptance, and it is undeniably about devotion. As Cate Blanchett says on the cover quote, ‘this is a beguiling memoir, written from the heart’.