Friday, March 20, 2020

Nine fictional bad mothers in fiction

Sarah Vaughan is a former Guardian journalist - news reporter and political correspondent - who always wanted to write fiction. Her latest novel, Little Disasters, is a psychological drama about the challenges of motherhood.

At the Waterstones blog Vaughan tagged nine of "her favourite malicious, malevolent and muddle-headed mothers in literature," including:
Mrs Bennet in Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

While Mr Bennet is equally weak in contracting out the pursuit of his daughters’ suitors to his wife, Jane Austen is most savage in her caricature of Mrs Bennet. “A woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper” obsessed with the financial necessity of getting her five daughters married without a care for their future happiness. (How exactly would Mr Collins and Lizzy work out?) Snobbish and vulgar, she ensures Jane becomes ill by sending her out in the rain to snare Bingley. But it’s her indulgence of headstrong Lydia that is seen as the most reprehensible since it threatens to bring shame on the family and means the youngest Bennet sister is stuck with caddish Wickham forever.
Read about another entry on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Jessica Francis Kane's top ten list of houseguests in fiction, O: The Oprah Magazine's twenty greatest ever romance novels, Cristina Merrill's list of eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, Sarah Ward's ten top list of brothers and sisters in fiction, Tara Sonin's lists of fifty must-read regency romances and seven sweet and swoony romances for wedding season, Grant Ginder's top ten list of book characters we love to hate, Katy Guest's list of six of the best depictions of shyness in fiction, Garry Trudeau's six favorite books list, Ross Johnson's list of seven of the greatest rivalries in fiction, Helen Dunmore's six best books list, Jenny Kawecki's list of eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, Peter James's top ten list of works of fiction set in or around Brighton, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue