Missing: A Memoir


Read Q & A about writing MISSING on book blogger Deborah Kalb’s site:



(Above link to a one-minute video about MISSING)

The Frankie Boyer Show audio interview about MISSING

(Above link to The Frankie Boyer Show audio interview about MISSING)

One reader’s review: “…a beautifully written portrait of a mother and her family. Spelman’s examination of her mother’s life is deeply poignant and will resonate with all readers who recognize–and perhaps struggle with—the complexity of family relationships….Spelman is able to uncover significant pieces of the puzzle of who her mother really was. The journey is worth taking, It’s a terrific read.”

Adriana Payne, Amazon reader review

Book description: Cornelia Maude Spelman’s memoir of her family springs from a meeting and subsequent friendship with the late, legendary New Yorker editor William Maxwell. In the 1920s, he and her parents had been friends as undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When Spelman hints at what she thinks of as the failure of her parents’ lives, he counters that “in a good novel one doesn’t look for a success story, but for a story that moves one with its human drama and richness of experience.”

At their final meeting, Maxwell encourages her to tell her mother’s story. Missing is Spelman’s response to Maxwell’s wisdom. With the pacing of the mystery novels her mother loved, and using everything from letters and interviews to the family’s quotidian paper trail—medical records, telegrams, and other oft-overlooked clues to a family’s history—Spelman reconstructs her mother’s life and untimely death. Along the way, she unravels mysteries of her family, including the fate of her long lost older brother. Spelman skillfully draws the reader into the elation and sorrow that accompany the discovery of a family’s past. A profoundly loving yet honest elegy, Missing is, like the woman it memorializes, complex and beautiful.

Cornelia’s essay on writing her family memoir, MISSING on Writer’s Digest:




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