7 Books to Celebrate Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day and here at Kunzum we are buzzed to talk about our favourite books featuring memorable and truly compelling mother characters. Offering a range of characterizations that challenge and expand canonical notions of motherhood, these contemporary works of international fiction make for compelling reads and insightful takes on the whole business of being and having a mother:)

This Mother’s Day treat yourself to some great stories and their iconic mothers!

Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

From the anonymous Italian author, a gem that was recently adapted for Netflix by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elene Ferrante’s Lost Daughter narrates a straightforward and yet multiply layered story of Leda, a middle-aged divorcée on a solo vacation by the Ionian coast. Alone for the first time in years, leaving her two daughters at home, she encounters an unexpected sense of autonomy, as well as a young struggling mother, Nina, who unwittingly triggers memories of Leda’s own complex past as a parent. The novel delves into the messy realities of motherhood. Leda grapples with societal expectations, questioning her choices and the sacrifices she made for her daughters. Through flashbacks, we see Leda’s intense love for her children clash with her yearning for freedom. The narrative forces us to confront the complexities of love, resentment, and the enduring impact motherhood has on both mother and child. 

A Woman’s Story by Annie Ernaux

A brilliant novella from the raw and sparse writings of Annie Ernaux, A Woman’s Story delves into the complexities of motherhood through the lens of grief. After her mother passes away from Alzheimer’s, Ernaux embarks on a literary excavation. In an attempt to reconstruct her mother’s life, she details the minutiae of her life, trying to create her as she was, as an autonomous woman, beyond her relationship with the author– the individual beyond her role. Ernaux grapples with the gaps between their experiences – a daughter raised in post-war liberation versus a mother confined by societal expectations. Yet, the narrative also reveals a quiet tenderness, a recognition of the unspoken bond that transcends time and memory. Through fragmented memories, Ernaux paints a poignant portrait of both loss and the enduring power of the mother-daughter connection.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson’s memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal delves into a complex mother-daughter relationship. Winterson, adopted by a Pentecostal couple, grapples with her adoptive mother’s rigid religious beliefs that clash with her own identity, particularly her sexuality. The title itself originates from her mother’s dismissive response to Winterson’s happiness. The book explores the yearning for a mother’s love and acceptance, contrasted with the harsh realities of a childhood shaped by religious extremism. Through this exploration, Winterson exposes the profound impact a mother’s love, or lack thereof, can have on a child’s life.

Time is A Mother by Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong’s Time is a Mother isn’t a traditional celebration of motherhood. This collection grapples with grief after the loss of his mother. Looking at motherhood through the lens of absence, Vuong offers a portrait of a complex, fierce love, confronting the pain of a broken bond, while acknowledging the enduring impact his mother had on his identity. The poems search for ways to reconcile the roles of mother and child, even in the face of death. Through this exploration, Vuong redefines motherhood, showing it as a powerful force that shapes us even beyond a physical presence.

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree

The first Indian language book to win the International Booker, Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand promises to shatter traditional views of motherhood. Ma, the 80-year-old protagonist, refutes expectations after the death of her husband. With new-found independence, she forms an unconventional bond with Rosie, a transgender woman, a relationship that leaves her children perplexed, particularly Beti, the daughter who considers herself the progressive one. The novel explores motherhood not just through child-rearing, but through self-discovery and forging new connections that transcend societal norms. Ma’s journey forces a re-evaluation of what it means to be a mother, daughter and woman in a world confined by expectations.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Loosely based on the experiences of Tan’s mother and grandmother in early to mid-twentieth-century Shanghai, The Joy Luck Club explores the complex bond between mothers and daughters, particularly across cultural divides. Four Chinese immigrant mothers in San Francisco navigate raising American-born daughters who struggle to understand their heritage. The mothers, marked by past hardships in China, attempt to pass down invaluable lessons through stories and veiled expectations. The daughters, frustrated by these enigmatic messages, yearn for deeper connections. Through interwoven narratives, the novel explores the challenges of communication, forgiveness, and the enduring love that shapes both mothers and daughters.

Mother-Daughter Murder Club by Kellye Garrett

Recommended by Reese Witherspoon’s book club, Garrett’s Mother-Daughter Murder Club is just as quirky and refreshingly fun as its title suggests, exploring motherhood through the context of a murder investigation. Lana Rubicon, a high-powered businesswoman, is forced to slow down while recovering from cancer. When her teenage granddaughter stumbles upon a body, Lana dives headfirst into the mystery, determined to protect her family. This throws her together with her daughter Beth, exposing their strained relationship. As they work alongside each other, the novel explores themes of forgiveness, letting go, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters,even in the face of challenges.

Pick up any of these 7 Books to Celebrate Mother’s Day from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.

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