To Dance with Kings
A historical epic chronicles four generations of women, beginning with one mother’s wish–for her daughter to live a life of privilege. This sets the tone for the rest of the novel, as we follow these women as they search for love and money during France’s tumultuous upheaval, ending with the violence of the French revolution. A story of how one mother’s somewhat misguided dream for her daughter can upset a generation, Kings is a stirring read full of motherly dysfunction.
As I Lay Dying
The Burden family has just lost their mother, Addie, and is determined to meet her somewhat difficult last request: to be buried with her family 40 miles away. These days, that’s not a hard wish to realize, but in 1920s Mississippi, travel of any kind was an enormous undertaking. Suffering through broken legs and broken bridges, the Burdens do everything they can to fulfill the eccentric Addie’s dying wish so she may rest in peace finally.
The Winter People
This spooky story begins with the sudden disappearance of Alice, who leaves 19-year-old daughter Ruthie and her younger sister Fawn responsible for finding her. Alice was always a little peculiar, insisting that she and her daughters live entirely off the grid in West Hall, Vermont, which makes finding out what’s happened to Alice: that much harder. A small town full of secrets and myths adds to this fantastical tale of searching for a lost mother, in more ways than one.
Charged with the murder of a fellow student, Andy Barber’s son, Jacob, is at the center of this suspense-filled novel. We follow Barber, a career attorney, as he does his best to protect his son’s innocence. Full of both courtroom and family drama, it’s the character of Jacob’s mother that will leave you scratching your head. The ending, both surprising and expected, will have you wondering if this is a mother’s love or her inability to see the truth.
Sharp Objects (Movie Tie-In)
The debut novel from the author of the bestselling thriller Gone Girl, Sharp Objects might win the award for creepiest mother. Camille Preaker hasn’t spoken to her neurotic mom since she left home many years ago. Now a newspaper reporter, an assignment covering the death of two teen girls brings her back to her hometown and forces her to confront her mother, as well as the demons that have caused her to carve particular words into her own skin.
Another story of wealth and privilege, Bittersweet is told from the perspective of Mabel Dagmar, a scholarship student at a prestigious East Coast college. After being invited to her roommate Genevra (Ev) Winslow’s Vermont estate for the summer, she falls in love with all that Ev’s life holds—skinny-dipping, cocktail hour, and large yachts. But she soon learns that not everything is as rosy as it seems. Does she reveal the secrets that have allowed the Winslows to reign supreme or does she keep things to herself and remain in paradise?
With or Without You
Domenica Ruta grew up with a drug addict, and sometimes dealer, for a mother—an environment that haunts her into adulthood. Smart and tenacious Domenica finds an escape through writing, of which this memoir is proof. A beautifully written story of the demons that threaten to destroy us and the redemption that can follow, With or Without You depicts how a daughter recovers from a toxic mother.
The maternal figure is of the utmost importance in a person’s childhood, but sometimes you don’t get the mother you hoped for. These books all have one thing in common: eccentric mothers and the children they’re trying, or not trying as it sometimes seems, to raise.
Bookshelf curated by Katharine Scrivener.
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