For those of you not in the UK, today is Mother’s Day in the UK, celebrating motherhood and all its joys. And so, in that vein, I’m going through my favourite mothers in fiction (not necessarily for good reasons), and what they can teach us about writing. In no particular order:
Mrs Bennett, Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) – She’s self-centered, annoying, winging, and caught up in her own drama. But she’s also concerned for the future of her daughters at a time when women couldn’t inherit, and she fights like the scariest of wrestlers to ensure their wealth, if not necessarily their happiness. She’s a surprisingly complex character, and integral to the plot of the story too.
Orleanna Price, The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) – Pliable and disciplined, she shows her tough and resilient side in the latter parts of the novel. Despite the story concentrating on the daughters, her role is a secondary one for a reason, and is so beautifully portrayed.
Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald) – She’s obsessed with Gatsby, goes off gallivanting around the countryside, and parties like a teen in Ibiza on their first holiday with friends. In fact, she is so unmotherly that people often forget she is a mother, and yet her reactions to events were probably guided by the fact.
Mrs Coulter, His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman) – Another mother whose motivations are questioned throughout the books. She’s elegant, beautiful and corrupt as hell. And yet, there’s something incredibly endearing about her character – or is that just me?
And let’s save a thought for the potential mothers-to-be – Amy Dunne, Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn), take a bow.
On that note, Happy Mother’s Day!