Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Five best books about mothers of many sorts

Elizabeth Lowry has worked as an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and as the deputy headmistress of a girls’ school. She contributes frequently to the London Review of Books and The Times Literary Supplement, and has also written for Harper’s Magazine and Granta.

Her debut novel is The Bellini Madonna.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of books about mothers of many sorts. including:
The Fifth Child
by Doris Lessing (1988)

Maternal love is tested to its limit in Doris Lessing's tough fable about suburban parenthood gone wrong. Harriet and David Lovatt create an Edenic family home for their growing brood of children, but their idyll is disrupted by the birth of Ben, the Lovatts' fifth child. Violently active in the womb, troll-like and viciously antisocial once born, Ben is "absolutely not ordinary," the result of "a chance gene" afloat in the human matrix. He strangles the family dog and terrorizes his siblings, who fear for their lives. David presses Harriet to institutionalize Ben, and when she refuses, the family collapses: The other children choose to live with relatives, and David avoids the house, leaving Harriet alone with her increasingly feral son. This chill book concludes with Harriet unable to abandon Ben yet hoping that he will simply drift away, freeing her to move on. Not so much a case of maternal love, then, as of maternal endurance.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeingue