Mothers in Literature: A List

I compiled this list for my library’s blog, and thought I’d share it here as well.

Mother’s Day is coming up… which got me thinking about mothers in recent books I’ve read (plus a couple of classics). Here’s what I came up with…


Mothers who advocate for their children: Love Lives Here by Amanda Jetté Knox

Reluctant hockey moms: Home Ice by Angie Abdou

Mothers who go to sea with their husbands: The Sea Captain’s Wife by Beth Powning


Mothers whose husbands are obsessed with climbing Mount Everest: Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

Missionary mothers: Five Wives by Joan Thomas

Mothers who struggle with addiction: Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska


Mothers who struggle with depression: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Mothers of young children: Roost by Ali Bryan

Disappearing mothers: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Temple


Empty-nesters: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Dream of being empty-nesters: The Figgs by Ali Bryan

To be, or not to be, a mother?: Motherhood by Sheila Heti


To have an affair, or not to have an affair?: Hunting Houses by Fanny Brit

“Hysterical” mothers: Hysteria by Elisabeth de Mariaffi

Eccentric mothers: French Exit by Patrick deWitt


Angry mothers who have been left for younger women: Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie

Foolish, tactless mothers: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Shiny, new mothers with stars in their eyes: Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery


Who are your favourite mothers in literature?


18 thoughts on “Mothers in Literature: A List

  1. Vishy says:

    I want to read The Sea Captain’s Wife. I remember you recommending it highly. Wonderful books about mothers you have posted about.

  2. madamebibilophile says:

    Great list Naomi! Recently I thought The Home-maker had a very interesting portrayal of a mother. In my late teens I loved Clara, the mother in The House of the Spirits.

    • Naomi says:

      I don’t know Clara… But I can’t believe I left out The Home-Maker – that would have made a perfect addition to the list! (Mothers who should not stay home!)

  3. annelogan17 says:

    There are so many wonderful books in here-good job with this blog post!!! Roost is hilarious, isn’t it? And i loved The Figgs too. Ali’s so funny, she’s a friend of mine and her facebook posts are just as funny as her books 😉

  4. Rebecca Foster says:

    So fun! This list was almost like a poem in itself. Lots here that I have read, and would like to read. Re: your very first category, I think you’d enjoy This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Happy Mother’s Day! (I always forget it’s in mid-May in North America; it’s in March in the UK and I always forget to buy my poor mother a card at the time, so I’ll be sending her an e-card tomorrow.)

  5. Karissa says:

    My favourite book mom is probably Marmee from Little Women. Which is not a particularly unique choice but there’s something so soft and warm and accepting about her. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  6. Susan says:

    Yeah I guess the mom from Little Women is pretty admirable and maybe the one from the novel Room, right? But I’m drawing a blank on other great moms. Your list is good! There’s a new one called Sea Wife by Amity Gaige that is also another one about sailing & the dissolution of a marriage etc. Uh-oh. Why do they do it?

  7. buriedinprint says:

    You must have had fun making this list! I’ve been reading a series of books for younger readers by Monica Furlong, beginning with Juniper, both of which feature girls and young women who are not very close to their own mothers but who are cared for by other women who become like mothers to them; I love the slow development of their loving and trusting relationships, as well as all the teaching about the natural world and healing remedies and legends in a story with a kinda-Celtic feel. They’ve made for lovely before-bed reading (unlike many of the other books in my stack these days).

    • Naomi says:

      It was fun! I hadn’t made a list like this in a while. I might get to do a few more like it not that the library has a blog!
      Those books sound lovely. And, for some reason, have made me want to re-read Lives of Girls and Women. (??)

      • buriedinprint says:

        Funny, it’s in my stack, as rereading the final one for Madame Bibi’s NADIM. Munro is always a treat.

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