It’s Mother’s Day in the US, so I hope all you moms are celebrating and being celebrated ! Today’s post was inspired by a recent NPR piece on books about mother-daughter relationships. I’d read two of the three books featured, and that got me thinking about other memorable mothers in literature. I came up with four very different examples (click on the titles for my review of each book):
We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
Everyone I know who’s read this book feels compelled to talk about it. The harrowing plot, the tragedy, the family dynamics, and Kevin’s mother, Eva, all need to be explored in great detail. To what degree did Eva’s personality, her character flaws, and her behavior affect Kevin? Could she have done anything to prevent the tragedy? I read this book more than three years ago. It still haunts me, and I still don’t have any answers.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Oh, Mrs. Bennet, what a character! Her crass and outspoken nature made me laugh again and again. And yet, she makes it her life’s work to find husbands for all five of her daughters, thus securing their future. It’s clear she loves them all dearly, and will do anything for them.
To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
The family matriarch is at the center of this novel; part 1 in particular shows her importance in all of life’s minute details. Nothing escapes her; she finds a way to care for every member of the family, and even her guests, simply through her watchful eye and a careful touch.
The Hills at Home, by Nancy Clark
This is my non-traditional pick, because Lily Hill isn’t actually a mother. But she opens her home to an extraordinary collection of family members, and cares for them all over the course of a year. This novel also features two very different mothers: Becky, the traditional wife and mother, and Ginger, recently separated from her husband and fiercely committed to her teenage daughter, but unable to show it.
These are just a few of the books in my library featuring mothers. Others include Room, Beside the Sea, March, The Optimist’s Daughter, My Sister’s Keeper, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter … and more.
Who are your favorite mothers in literature?
Read more from The Sunday Salon here.