• The cover of the book Sense and Sensibility

    Sense and Sensibility

    The obvious mother-daughter Austen novel is Pride and Prejudice for Mrs. Bennet and her five girls, but I am extremely fond of Sense and Sensibility’s Mrs. Dashwood, who is equally maddening in a quieter, slightly more subtle manner as her eldest daughter, Elinor becomes preternaturally cool-headed and sensible. Here and elsewhere, Austen is wonderfully clear-eyed on devoted and respectful daughters who, nonetheless, must mother their mothers, and on mothers who could do with growing up a little.

  • The cover of the book Daniel Deronda

    Daniel Deronda

    I actually named the flame-haired, hot-tempered Gwen in my novel The Awkward Age after Gwendolen Harleth in Daniel Deronda. Gwendolen’s relationship with her mother, Fanny Davilow, makes the reader wince. Mrs. Davilow’s devotion to, and fear of, her daughter is excruciating, and magnificently portrayed.

  • The cover of the book Digging to America

    Digging to America

    Anne Tyler’s mothers are always remarkable, but Digging to America is noteworthy as it explores motherhood with a slightly different genesis—babies who’ve traveled across oceans to find their families. Two different adoptive mothers meet at the airport on the day they welcome their new daughters; equally beloved, these little girls will grow up in very different homes, with very different mothers.

  • The cover of the book Beloved


    In a novel intended to restore a history to its silenced people, Beloved is a story of motherhood in extremis. Pregnant with her second daughter, Sethe escapes a life of slavery in 1870’s Kentucky and, upon their recapture, murders her elder daughter rather than allow her to return to the misery and degradation.