In the distant past, autobiographies concerned themselves largely with the public life of their protagonists. In the last century a looser form came into fashion, detailing the travails of the writer’s childhood and his or her emotional entanglements. In our generation, memoirs have progressed to baring family secrets and intimate acts. We’ve gone from evening dress to knickers off in a hundred years.
Fortunately, Maggie Gee’s My Animal Life is not rife with incest and dark doings. Born in 1948, she was the product of two sets of opposing genes: the staid Gees on her father’s side, who had ‘backbone’, and the altogether more ‘easy-going, anarchic [and] sensual’ Churches on her mother’s.