Lost Children: Hearing the Past in the Silence of an Empty House

  • Esther Muñoz González University of Zaragoza
Keywords: trauma, gender roles, psychological quest, identity, motherhood


This article analyses Maggie Gee’s novel Lost Children (1994) from the combined perspectives of feminist and trauma theories. It contends that the sudden disappearance of the protagonist’s teenage daughter triggers a psychological quest for the recovery of her voice and self, shattered by a traumatic experience she had in her childhood. My analysis, which pays especial attention to narratological issues —since this barely perceptible, insidious trauma is expressed both formally and thematically— shows that Alma’s behaviour is representative of the worries, expectations and impositions that contemporary children and women are subject to in western society, still imbued by patriarchal models and rules of behaviour.


Download data is not yet available.


Blake, William. Songs of Innocence and Experience. 1794. The Project Gutenberg, 2008. 21/07/2016. URL: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1934/1934-h/1934-h.htm/.
Bloom, Sandra L. “Bridging the Black Hole of Trauma: The Evolutionary Significance of the Arts.” Psychotherapy and Politics International 8.3 (2010): 198‒212.
Caruth, Cathy. “Recapturing the Past: Introduction.” Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Ed. Cathy Caruth. Baltimore and London: JHU Press, 1995: 151‒157.
Cohn, Dorrit. Transparent Minds. Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.
Frazer, Sir James George. The Golden Bough. A Study in Magic and Religion. Bartleby.com. 2000. 29/10/2015. URL: http://www.bartleby.com/196/.
Gee, Maggie. Lost Children. London: Flamingo Harper Collins, 1995.
Gee, Maggie. “How May I Speak in My Own Voice? Language and the Forbidden.” Maggie Gee: Critical Essays. Ed. Sarah Dillon and Caroline Edwards. Canterbury: Guilphi, 2015: 261‒280.
Gee, Maggie, and Lisa Appignanesi. “The Contemporary Writer: Gender and Genre.” Writing a Woman’s Business. Women, Writing and the Marketplace. Eds. Judy Simons and Kate Fullbrook. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1998: 172‒182.
Genette, Gérard. Figures III. Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1972. Partly translated as Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method by Jane E. Lewin. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980.
Genette, Gérard. “Voice.” Narratology: An Introduction. Longman Critical Readers. Eds Susana Onega and José Ángel García Landa. London and New York: Longman, 1996: 172‒89.
Kiliç, Mine Özyurt. Maggie Gee: Writing the Condition-of-England Novel. London, New Delhi, New York and Sidney: Bloomsbury, 2013.
Krystal, Henry. “Trauma and Aging: A Thirty-Year Follow-Up.” Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Ed. Cathy Caruth. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995: 76‒99.
Laub, Dori, and Daniel Podell. “Art and Trauma.” The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 76.5 (1995): 991‒1005.
Luckhurst, Roger. The Trauma Question. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.
Metz, Stephanie. “Romanticism and the Child: Inventing Innocence.” Romantic Politics. University of Tennessee. Knoxville, Texas. N. D. 11/07/2016. URL: http://web.utk.edu/~gerard/romanticpolitics/ childhood.html/.
Nadal, Marita, and Mónica Calvo. Trauma in Contemporary Literature. Narrative and Representation. New York and London: Routledge, 2014.
Neustatter, Angela. “Lost Children and Lost Mothers: Maggie Gee Discusses her Novel about a Woman’s Mid-Life Crisis with Angela Neustatter.” Independent, 22 April, 1994. 02/03/2016. URL: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/lost-children-and-lost-mothers-maggie-gee-discusses-her-novel-about-a-womans-mid-life-crisis-with-1371692.html/.
Roberts, Michèle. “Ways of Seeing in the Underworld: Lost Children by Maggie Gee.” Independent, 17 April, 1994. 08/03/2016. URL: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/book-review-ways-of-seeing-in-the-underworld-lost-children-by-maggie-gee-harpercollins-pounds-1499-1370684.html/.
Vickroy, Laurie. Trauma and Survival in Contemporary Fiction. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2002.
Von Harman, Karin. “Immortality and Morality in Contemporary Reworkings of the Demeter/Persephone Myth.” From Motherhood to Mothering: The Legacy of Adrienne Rich’s of Woman Born. Ed. Andrea O’Reilly. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2012.
Whitehead, Anne. Trauma Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.