TTT: One for Mothers' Day! Female protagonists who are Mums
This Sunday is Mothers' Day in the UK (and yesterday was International Women's Day!) so I've skipped the TTT prompt this week in favour of something to suit. On this blog in the past I've struggled a bit with creating lists like 'best mothers in books.' There are a few memorable mothers, but a lot of them are actually pretty awful and most of them are absent altogether (read: dead.) The mother role in most stories, as in life, is allotted as the nurturing figure who lives and would die for her children - or she's a bad mother, embarrassing, neglectful or cruel. Or she's just a background character. But do mothers in literature ever get to be the heroines of their own stories? I tried to come up with a list of female protagonists who are also mothers, at least for part of their book. Because your life doesn't end when you have a kid, right? At least, I'd like to think so. It was tricky, but I managed to get to ten! They're not all wonderful, but here they are. Can you think of any others?
Vianne Rocher, Chocolat
Vianne is a single mother in rural France, who moves into a small village with her daughter and opens a Chocolate shop. Chocolat by Joanne Harris is the story of her life there, the prejudices she faces, the challenges she meets and she also gets a romance. I've not read the book yet, but I've heard good things and I really enjoyed the film - Vianne is an interesting, likeable character and wears some really lovely clothes!
Mrs. Frisby, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
In this classic childrens book by Robert C. O'Brien, the protagonist is the widowed mother of a family of field mice who seeks help from a group of former lab rats when her home is about to be destroyed. I can't remember much about it, but I remember it was exciting, and Mrs. Frisby is definitely the hero!
Sephy Hadely, Knife Edge
In the second of Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses series, Sephy is left alone with a new baby, dealing with grief and post-natal depression. It's still her story though, and with the support of family and friends (although I actually hate Meggie) and the strength that she showed in the first book, she starts learning how to deal with her new life. This book is bleak, not going to lie, but I like Sephy and on my last re-read I was actually really interested in the band story-line she gets here, and the dynamics with the new love interests.
Kerry, Half a World a Way
Joanna, Here be Dragons
Scarlett O' Hara, Gone with the Wind
In the film Scarlett only has one child, but she has three over the course of the book. Is she a really terrible parent? Yes. But you can't say she doesn't provide for her kids. She does everything in her power to make sure that she - and the children - will 'never be hungry again' and you definitely wouldn't want to cross her. Gone with the Wind is massively problematic but Scarlett herself is still one of the best written female characters in a book ever. She's not nice, but she's hardcore. And she's still one hundred percent Scarlett however many kids she has. She's also the heroine throughout, not relegated to the role of mother while we move on to a younger protagonist - as often happens in books.
Dona St Columb, Frenchman's Creek
This historical Daphne du Maurier novel has, as it's heroine, a mother of two, but the kids don't really feature. It's a essentially a fun fantasy, where she's left alone with only the children (toddlers) and the servants at her husband's Cornwall estate - but she meets a sensitive-soul Pirate Captain down at the creek, who whisks her off now and again (in a Doctor Who companion sort of way) to help with smuggling missions.
Bridget Jones, Mad About the Boy
I haven't read this one, but it's Bridget in her fifties with the kids in primary school. It's the 2010s so she has a whole new cultural landscape to deal with and obviously there are new problems and opportunities for comedy now that she's in a different age bracket. I'll have to try this eventually, I loved the first two.
Demelza, The Poldark Saga
There are so many problems with the Poldark books, but one thing I love is the way Winston Graham writes Ross and Demelza's relationship, especially when they're a bit more settled with the kids. After book seven we move onto the next generation, and I never bothered with those, but there's something lovely about reading scenes in the earlier books where Demelza's just pottering around with the babies in the garden, or takes them down the beach, or they'll be feeding them at the table while she and Ross are having some conversation about a major plot point. They don't forget the children once they're born like every TV series ever, they become part of the narrative in a realistic way.
Elizabeth Woodville, The White Queen
I'm not a big fan of Phillipa Gregory, but the great thing about historical novels is they have to let the heroines have kids and still have drama in their lives - because that's historically accurate. Plus, no birth control back then. The White Queen tells the story of Edward IV's queen, and all the intrigue at court, both before and after she starts having kids. These medieval queens are all so interesting - I need to read some stuff about Eleanor of Aquitaine too, she's next on my list!
Do we need more heroines who are mothers? Who is your favourite?