Advertisements

Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Tag

Digging Up the Past   Leave a comment

Image result

When reading a mystery I want to be surprised; I also want to reach the solution on my own. This might seem contradictory, but it’s my benchmarks for a good thriller.

Both were achieved in Fiona Barton’s The Child. I was pleased to be right. Of course, it took most of the book to fit all of the pieces together, but I did. Rather than feel disappointed once I suspected how things would end, I was proud of my sleuthing abilities.

Three main characters move the story: Kate, a journalist intrigued by the discovery of an infant’s skeleton when an old house is demolished; Angela, whose infant daughter was kidnapped from the maternity ward more than 40 years ago; and Emma, a middle-aged woman with secrets, including a teen pregnancy. Emma’s mother, Jude, has a pivotal role in the novel’s progression.

Kate is convinced there’s more to the story than the gruesome discovery at a construction site. Meanwhile, Angela’s begins to hope that she will finally have an explanation of what happened to her daughter. Emma fears that her past has literally been uncovered. Meanwhile, Jude has no interest in looking in the rear-view mirror and dismisses Emma’s anxieties as part of the strained relationship between the two.

Through Kate, the author methodically reveals the heartbreaks and fears each woman has suffered in their respective lives while fitting together the ways in which they’re all connected. If intrigue isn’t enough, there’s also a bit of science thrown into the mix.

The Child
Four Bookmarks
Berkley, 2017
365 pages

Advertisements

Maternal Ties   Leave a comment

25893709

 

 

My Name is Lucy Barton is a statement and not only the title of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel. It’s an affirmation as Lucy reflects on the relationship with her mother, which is like a faulty wire: occasionally there’s no connection.

Lucy is from a rural Illinois town where growing up her family lived so far below the poverty line as to make it seem something to attain. Lucy’s life is revealed as she lies in a hospital bed with a view of the Chrysler Building in New York City talking with her mother whom she hasn’t seen or spoken with in years. Strout is methodical as she merges Lucy’s past with the present.

The rich, stark pacing and imagery serve to expose family dynamics in the narrative. That is, Strout’s writing provides enough detail to shape a situation or character, but not so much that there is little left to the imagination. In fact, this is what makes some aspects harrowing: imagining what life was like for young Lucy. She lived with her older siblings and parents in a garage until age 11.

Her mother’s brief presence provides the vehicle to see Lucy’s past; the extended hospitalization gives Lucy time to consider her adult life as a mother, wife and writer.

Lucy should despise her parents and her past, yet she doesn’t. Her family was shunned and her parents were apparently abusive in their neglect. Lucy is grateful for her mother’s presence. The mother-daughter bond, at least from Lucy’s perspective, overrides past sins.

My Name is Lucy Barton
Four and a half Bookmarks
Random House, 2016
191 pages

Mothers and Sons   Leave a comment

As the mother of sons I was compelled to read The Mama’s Boy Myth:
Why Keeping
Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger by Kate Stone
Lombardi. My oldest, in his mid-20s, often boasts of being a “mama’s boy,”
however, my other two have yet to claim to the same title. Nonetheless, I
feel close to all three. Of course, they don’t tell me everything, but they share
quite a lot. More importantly, I no longer feel the way I did when they were
younger: that our relationship would stop flourishing as they got older. That
is not happening at all, and, according to Lombardi, I am not the only mother
enjoying this experience.

Lombardi combines interviews with mothers of sons, excerpts from studies,
personal experience, and historic trends that have led her to conclude there
is nothing wrong with strong bonds between moms and their boys. In fact,
she highlights a number of benefits for males. These include possessing more
expressive and thoughtful qualities. Yet until now, little has been written to
correct the bum rap directed toward moms if their sons were too sensitive or
socially inept; and having a male role model was considered the way to over-
come “problems” caused by a mom with tight apron strings.

Dads, as Lombardi notes, don’t face such scrutiny in their relationships with
daughters. All parents should be encouraged to maintain close ties with their
children. For moms it should happen without Oedipus’s looming shadow.

The Mama’s Boy Myth: Why Keeping Ours Sons Close Makes Them Stronger
Three Bookmarks
Penguin Group, 2012
324 pages (includes notes)

Posted May 13, 2012 by bluepagespecial in Books, Reviews

Tagged with , , , , ,