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Lisa Jewell: ‘Mum stops us taking life too seriously’

Author Ruth Gilligan has published three novels and is currently studying for a masters at Yale University in the US. She has an older brother, David. We caught up with her and her mum, Julie, to talk about their mother-daughter relationship.


"Mum and I have always been very close, and since I don't have a sister, she was my main source of 'girls' time' when I was growing up. As a kid going on girlie shopping trips has always been a great source of one-on-one time (as well as a well-stocked wardrobe/belly).

"Mum has this innate desire to help people and try and sort out their problems, which I really admire. This obviously means she's extremely dedicated to her family, and continually committed to making sure we're happy. But she's also a bit mad, which I love, and which stops any of us taking life, or ourselves, too seriously.

"I've definitely inherited her -- shall we say -- 'eccentric' streak. But most of all her emphasis on hard work and commitment stays with me. Our house ethos has never been based on rewarding achievements but just trying your absolute best and working as hard as you can -- anything else is a bonus. It's a great approach to life.

"Moving away for university was hard at first, precisely because my mum and I had always been so close. And obviously I've matured into an adult and she has given me my independence -- I'm studying in America now for goodness sake. But Skype is a wonderful thing, and we're in contact every day and just as close as always."


"Ruth has brought excitement (not always of the good kind) into my life since the moment she was placed into my arms at birth and she just stared and stared up at me. Even now I can still feel her hand in mine as she grew. Now, in the blink of an eye, she's 21

"One of my fondest memories is of when she was about six. She discovered that Santy had granted her fervent wish (made only a week before) and had given her a 'long pink strapless dress with a sticky out skirt'. And yellow flowers and bows on it. Accessories were given too. The photos still make me smile.

"I love that Ruth works hard -- they say that the harder you work, the luckier you become. I love that she is organised and how she fits more than most into 24 hours. I love that she is generous (she has always given donations from her own money to charities) and polite to others. I love that she is spiritual. I love that she is grateful. I love sharing her life."

NEXT WEEK: TV3's Anna Daly and her mother Ann