Esther Freud on motherhood, guilt and upending your life in your 50s

How does it feel to come from a family with a legend? If you’re today’s guest, novelist and playwright Esther Freud (daughter of painter Lucian Freud and great granddaughter of Sigmund Freud) you work with that legacy to produce some of the finest novels of the last thirty years. Her first Hideous Kinky, based on her unusual childhood, was made into a film starring Kate Winslet and after the follow-up, Peerless Flats, she was named one of Granta’s Best Young Novelists. Scroll forward a couple of decades and her ninth novel, I Couldn’t Love You More, comes full circle, this time exploring aspects of her family’s history through the lens of three generations of mothers. (Bring tissues!)

Over the next 40 minutes Esther talks candidly about motherhood, guilt, shame, the way women are constantly judged, her own entangled family history, how the onset of menopause made her question everything and why now 57 she’s happier than ever. 

CONTENT WARNING: There’s some conversation about forced adoption and Ireland’s mother and baby homes that some people may find upsetting.

You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at, including the book that accompanies this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too by Sam Baker and I Couldn't Love You More by Esther Freud.

The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. I'd love to hear what you think - please rate and review, or let me know on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.

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