Recommendations

Mother’s Day Books

The authors on this list have written with nuance, subtlety and consideration about the vast experiences of motherhood and family. Whoever the maternal figure is in our lives, we all have keen memories of their nature and the influences they have on us. We are celebrating those influences with our Mother’s Day books. Because while flowers are always a lovely idea, perhaps the gift of fiction might be even more joyfully received.


Mother’s Day Books

 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020

Maggie O’Farrell‘s ninth novel, Hamnet, is a fictional account of the life of Hamnet, William Shakespeare’s only son who tragically died in infancy and inspired one of the most celebrated plays of all time.

This book explores his mother Agnes’s growth into womanhood, her journey to motherhood and the devastating impact of her son’s death. It is a beautiful insight into a family wrecked by grief and heartache. Yet it is a tender and lyrical novel that explores one woman’s desperate will to keep her family safe.

 

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo 

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017

This is a deeply affecting book about a family in crisis, centring around the protagonist Yejide’s all-consuming desire to have a child.

Stay With Me is set in Osun, Nigeria amidst the social and political turbulence of the 1980s. Whilst the community is in upheaval, so too is Yejide’s personal life. She becomes desperate, battling against her mother-in-law and trying to find any way she can to become pregnant. This is an unforgettable story of a marriage as seen through the eyes of both husband and wife, and it asks how much we will sacrifice for the sake of family.

 

Flamingo by Rachel Elliott

Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022

Flamingo is the story of two families and what happens when their lives intertwine. Single mother Eve moves into the house next door to Sherry’s family, with her six-year-old son Daniel. Family is at the heart of this book and, as the driving force of her small unit of two, Eve has a power over all their destinies that she is yet to realise. There are mysteries aplenty at the beginning of this book, and as the dual timelines converge the reader is left with an uplifting feeling of hope.

The relationship between parents and children, how they shift in emphasis and power over time is handled deftly and with kindness.

 

Sight by Jessie Greengrass

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018

Sight is a philosophical and analytical novel that offers an insight into being a parent and a child, what it is like to bring a person into the world, and what it is to let one go.

Greengrass explores grief and identity with nuance and is led by extensive psychoanalytical research and her own curiosities as a mother. Combining lyrical mastery of language with true depth of feeling, she offers profound insights into one of the most extraordinary rites of passage – entering motherhood – and the ever-changing landscape of what we call a self.

 

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020

Teeming with life and crackling with energy, the twelve characters, each with a chapter of their own, featured in Girl, Woman, Other jump from the pages and feel as real to the reader as the woman next door.

There are mothers here in all their technicolour glory, but they are not defined by this label alone. They are teachers, friends, rebels, lovers; all painted with the desires and struggles of their personal journeys across the country and over the last one hundred years.

 

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013

In 1926, after four harrowing years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns home to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. Cut off from the mainland for years at a time, Tom and his wife face a more personal trauma as they try and fail for a baby.

Until, by some mysterious hand, a baby is delivered to them in a boat with a dead man. Their choice will not only impact their own lives and that of the child, but possibly inflict a traumatic loss on another. Whatever choice they make, will it be the right one?

 

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2016

This is a novel about the complex and tangled love between a mother and daughter.

Narrated by the protagonist, this novel takes place over five nights in the 1980s when Lucy Barton is in hospital and missing her two daughters dreadfully. She receives an unexpected visit from her estranged mother, whose presence releases a wash of memories of her own childhood, its loneliness and how this impacted the course of her life and her profession. This is a tender novel and one that masterfully exposes the nuances of human relationships.

 

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021

If you have not always seen eye to eye with your mother, or you have had to adopt a caring role for them in life, this book will resonate with you. It is blisteringly sharp and Doshi’s caustic wit is woven throughout the novel.

Set in Pune, Western India, it is rich with memories, expectations and resentment that categorise the fraught relationship between mother and daughter. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won critical acclaim for its sharpness and depiction of dementia. It can be relentless and sorrowful, but it is a brilliant read and will make you consider (perhaps how fortunate!) your own relationship with your mother.

 

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