Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press (May 5, 2020)
Buy Unlocking: Amazon| Barnes&Noble| Indiebound
While recovering from a near fatal illness, Nancy Pressly discovers a treasure trove of family material stored in her attic. Haunted by images of her grandparents and her parents in their youth, she sets out to create a family narrative before it is lost forever. It takes several more years before she summons the courage to reconstitute a path back to her own past, slowly pulling back the veil of amnesia that has, until now, all but obliterated her memory of her childhood.
In this sensitive and forgiving meditation on the meaning of family, Pressly unravels family dynamics and life in a small rural town in the 1950s that so profoundly affected her―then moves forward in time, through to her adulthood. With an eye attuned to visual detail, she relates how she came into her own as a graduate student in the tumultuous sixties in New York; examines how she assumed the role of caretaker for her family as she negotiated with courage and resilience the many health setbacks, including her own battle with pancreatic-related cancer, that she and her husband encountered; and evokes her interior struggle as a mother as she slowly traverses the barriers of expectations, self-doubt, and evolving norms in the 1980s to embrace a remarkable life as a scholar, champion of contemporary art, and nationally recognized art museum strategic planning consultant. Full of candor and art-inspired insight, Unlocking leaves the reader with a deep appreciation of the power of art and empathy and the value of trying to understand one’s life journey.
The author of this book has done what I’ve often thought about doing, which is to research past generations of my family.
Nancy Pressly spent hours and hours researching all the information she could find about her family, all while going through serious health and personal issues. Her love of her family definitely comes through in this book.
I found all aspects (the research & what she found, her personal and professional life) of this book extremely interesting. I loved the photos she added to the book.
The book is full of facts but doesn’t have a text book feel like other books I’ve read where a lot of research was involved. Her writing style makes you want to keep reading and I did, in one sitting which is rare for me, especially for a memoir.
Very interesting & I would recommend it!
Thanks to Teddy @ Premier Virtual Author Book Tours
for a copy of this book for review
Nancy L. Pressly, a graduate of Goucher College, received her master’s degree in Art History from Columbia University. She began her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and subsequently held curatorial positions at the Yale Center for British Art and the San Antonio Museum of Art, where she organized several important exhibitions, most notably the acclaimed Fuseli Circle in Rome: Early Romantic Art of the 1770s.
In 1984 she became Assistant Director of the Museum Program at the National Endowment for the Arts; was a visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts during the fall of 1992; and in 1993 founded Nancy L. Pressly & Associates, a nationally recognized consulting firm specializing in strategic planning for art museums. She has authored numerous publications, most recently a book titled Settling the South Carolina
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