Renowned feminist writer Carrie Dunn’s collections of literary sketches of the relationships between mothers and their offspring is a must read for fans of fiction and feminism, and for anyone who is, or has, a mother.
Dunn takes the reader on a journey through literary history, visiting Mrs Capulet, Mrs Bennett, Sue Bridehead and Mammy Walsh along the way. Her well-observed portraits bring to life this often-neglected relationship, as we rethink our attitudes to the marvellous, the mean, the flighty and devoted mothers that populate our favourite books.
“This collection of portraits is a joy to read. It was a great opportunity to revisit some of my favourite novels (as well as discover some new ones) through the mother characters that we often miss, or take for granted, or fail to appreciate. Whether it’s the horror of Mrs Reed in Jane Eyre, or a new way of looking at Pam Jones, this book took me on a journey through literary history and introduced me to its key players in a new and refreshing way.”
Sian Norris, blogger
Dunn notes that throughout history, mothers have been silenced or ignored by literary criticism, or else their motivations and actions have been dismissed as trivial. Her book aims for us to take a second look at the role motherhood has played in literature, and demands that we re-evaluate and question our often negative reactions to mother characters – from Mrs Bennett’s superficiality to Mrs Capulet’s abandonment of Juliet. She examines how sexism or male bias in literary history has led to condemnation of mothers in fiction whilst failing to recognise or evaluate the social and cultural norms of the period that influenced or shaped these characters. Do we judge and ignore literary fathers in the same way?
The portraits Dunn paints in her book are very funny, very knowing and sharp. The 20 short sketches take us on a literary journey of 500 years of literature’s mums. This book is for anyone who is, or has, a mother, and for anyone who loves great reads.