Saturday, May 22, 2010
Mothers in Writing
Since we’re blogging about mothers this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I portray mothers in my novels. I tend to make certain they’re absent or more of a villain than a helper to my hero or heroine.
I love my mom and consider her a good friend. So why do I kill off my characters’ mothers or make them horrible adversaries?
And my conclusion? It makes my characters more vulnerable. And stronger. If they’re alone in the world, they’ve had to make their own way, build their own life, go it alone. So it’s not that I’m against mothers, but characters lacking a mother or a supportive mother are more interesting to me.
That said, in my next novel, The Making of a Duchess, I’ve written a wonderful mother character. Rowena, the duchess de Valére, escaped the French Revolution with my hero Julien. Unfortunately, she had to leave her other two sons behind. Very early in the book, Rowena has to make a decision: save one son or lose all three. She decides to save Julien.
Rowena isn’t a central character in the novel. The novel is about the romance between Julien and Sarah, but as I wrote the scenes with Rowena, I thought a lot about what her life must have been like after her decision. Was she ever able to reconcile her decision? Did she wish she had died, rather than face life knowing her twin sons perished? Or worse—not knowing what happened to them at all.
Julien, her son, thinks of little else but his brothers’ fates. He makes it his life’s work to search for news of them. And it’s that search that gets him into trouble…but that’s another part of the story.
I’ve been trying to think about novels with strong, positive mother characters. So far I’ve got the mother in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and the mother in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels. Can you think of any others? There must be more…