Since becoming a mother, one thing that became clear to me quite quickly is that motherhood is a crazy, conflicting emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes so joyful, sometimes so hard – sometimes you feel both emotions simultaneously and don’t know what’s going on.
So novels that feature mothers or have plots that explore motherhood in some way suddenly became much more visceral reads for me. I was most interested when I discovered books that took the shiny gloss off motherhood and presented other realities – and they are the ones that feature in this Top 5. A more realistic (in my opinion), if highly dramatic take on things…
5 brilliant novels about motherhood
/ Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
Now Little Darlings is a book that has stayed with me. This might be to do with the fact I read it while nursing my newborn and it’s all about the myth of changelings. That’s folklore around your baby’s soul being switched after birth, so your baby might look like yours but it is not…
I was very impressed by how this novel captures the struggles of early motherhood – from the simple things of trying to pack a nappy bag and get babies ready to go for a walk to the massive, massive psychological change you go through when you become a mother.
Walks the line between myth and reality perfectly.
/ The Harpy by Megan Hunter
Speaking of… as you might be able to guess by it’s title, The Harpy explores myths too. It looks at motherhood, guilt, anger, obsession and weaves in the imagery and stories of the mythical harpy to wonderfully do this.
One of my favourite reads of 2021, Lucy, the lead character, has two young sons and this book captures the frustrating yet love-filled paradox of parenting perfectly, while building up to an ending you won’t see coming.
/ The Push by Ashley Audrain
A lot darker than I was expecting and warning: there is the death of a baby in the story. The Push explores motherhood from the point of view of a generation of women – grandmother, mother and daughter – who actually never wanted to be mothers, but all found themselves giving birth.
An intense, clever thriller and keeps you turning those pages.
/ The Foundling by Stacey Halls
Throwing some historical fiction into the mix with this one. Set in 1754, this is a story about Bess and Alexandra – both mothers to the same girl. How this came to be is a fascinating story that centres around The Foundling hospital, a real place that took in children whose parents felt they couldn’t care for them.
From the power of a mother’s love to the big plot reveal and satisfying conclusion, this is a wonderful read.
/ Underbelly by Anna Whitehouse
And finishing up with this one – it also looks at two different mothers but this time it’s set in modern day and they don’t share a child. It centres around the current cult of social media and the consequences of mothers sharing their children’s lives online.
I really liked how Underbelly looks at the endless pressure of mum-guilt and the complex, evolving and twisting nature of female friendship – relatable topics for so many.
And there you have it. Have you read any of these books? Let me know if your have any other suggestions!