A Mother's Love

When Linda Carroll denied her daughter a second Fudgsicle, the little girl wailed and crumpled onto the floor. Carroll placed her arm around her child to console her.

“Don’t touch me!” screamed the girl. “I wish I was DEAD! I want to DIE. I HATE YOU!”

Later that week, the little girl told her sister that not only was the sister adopted, but she was also a Mongoloid. After Carroll scolded the little girl, she coolly replied, “You will pay for that, Mother.” That night, she torched her mother’s most prized possessions.

Not surprisingly, that little girl was Courtney Love.

These and many more Courtney anecdotes can be found in Carroll’s new book, Her Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir of the Mother I Never Knew and of My Daughter, Courtney Love.

Love, who hasn’t spoken to her mother for several years, has yet to comment publicly on the memoir. While Courtney is known to leave nasty messages on the answering machines of unsympathetic journalists, she hasn’t called her mom regarding this book.

Perhaps Love would take her mother’s book tour as an opportunity for some sort of in-person confrontation. Would Courtney bitch-slap her own mother like she did Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill during the ’95 Lollapalooza tour?

Last week, I drove to the Borders bookstore in Westwood to find out.

Three men (not counting Carroll’s husband), a few UCLA students and about a dozen middle-aged women attended. There were no obvious hardcore Love fanatics, no gals with smeared lipstick, wearing torn baby-doll dresses.

A Borders security guard paced behind the audience. It was unclear whether he was merely interested in the book or if he, too, was anticipating a Courtney Love rampage.

The 61-year-old author arrived, looking exactly like a kinder, gentler and slightly older version of her famous daughter. Their mannerisms and speech patterns were so similar that an audience member later asked if Carroll had ever been recognized in public as Courtney Love’s mother. Surprisingly, Carroll said it had never happened.

For obvious reasons, Doubleday added Love’s name to the book’s subtitle, despite Carroll’s objections. But most of the book isn’t about Courtney. The memoir chronicles Carroll’s life as an adopted daughter of a mother with whom she had a very troubled relationship and a father who was “sexually inappropriate” with her. She also details her journey to find her biological mother, who turned out to be the Newberry Medal–winning author Paula Fox.

During the question-and-answer period, a woman asked the author about her relationship with Love. Carroll explained that she used to think she had no relationship with her daughter. While writing her memoir, however, she realized that, even though she and Courtney are estranged, they’d always have a relationship. Carroll added, “As I wrote the book, I felt compassion for both of us. Courtney came into this world with inner torment and a mother who loved her fiercely but had a lot of instability.” Somehow, Carroll says, her other children managed to deal with her instability much better than Courtney could.

Carroll does give Love credit for turning her angst into art. She also said that while she has been on this book tour, many Hole fans have told her that Courtney’s music actually saved their lives.

Someone in the audience (okay, it was me) asked Carroll if she thought Courtney might show up. “I worried about that,” she admitted. “Courtney is very unpredictable; you never know what she will do.”

—Dan Kapelovitz

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >