Jim Neat is an unusual and striking memoir, a coalescing of prose, poetry, found documents and photographs. In it Mary Oliver uncovers the life of her father (b. 1904) and ranges across the history of England and Canada in the twentieth century. Jim left England in his teens, as a seaman. He travelled to South Africa, stowed away to Australia and eventually landed in Canada just before the Great Depression. Here he met his partner Lizbietta in a bookshop in Toronto, but while he was working as a lumberjack she died in childbirth. Ill and destitute, Jim was declared a vagrant and his baby daughter was sent to an orphanage. Admitted to a mental hospital in Ontario Jim was eventually repatriated to England. Jim met and married Mary?s mother during the war before serving in North Africa and Italy. Their marriage was a difficult one and although it endured until Jim died in 1983, his life was dominated by the loss of Lizbietta and their child. Driven by the prospect of a half-sister, and the enigma of a father she didn?t really know, Oliver set out to discover the truth behind the family stories and to better understand Jim.