cahn: (Default)
[personal profile] cahn
I asked everyone for recs of books with dads, and I now want to make the same post for moms! (I was going to wait until I had had a chance to read more of the recs in the dad post -- thank you everyone!! -- but then [personal profile] forestofglory had an interesting post about where all the SFF moms have gone which made me think I should go ahead and ask :) )

The rules of the game are as before: Please rec me books with moms who are important characters (important secondary character is fine, and "important" can be defined as you like -- important enough to remember a month later? :) ) and for whom parenting is an important component of their character, with kids who are older at the time of canon (I said teenager in the other post, but really I mean not babies or toddlers). They don't need to be good parents, necessarily, and they can make horrible mistakes, but they should be (relatively?) non-abusive and clearly love their kid(s). ([personal profile] forestofglory's post was about SFF books, but you do not have to be limited to SFF here.)

The interesting thing is, at first I wasn't sure I'd be able to come up with any, but looking at our bookshelf there seem to be more moms than dads. I strongly suspect this is a me-filtering thing, in that I tend to remember strong moms, and maybe don't remember the good dads that much? And also books that I've hung on to seem to have tended to have strong moms?

-The Broken Earth (Jemisin), Essun (arguably she falls into "abusive," but I'm gonna leave her here anyway because the books are actually partially about examining that dynamic)
-Tenar in the later Earthsea books
-Cordelia and Ekaterin in the Vorkosigan books
-Tagiri in Pastwatch (Card)
-Actually a lot of Card's stuff during what I call his "good period" -- Novinha in Speaker for the Dead, DeAnne Fletcher in Lost Boys (whom I rather imprinted on in high school, actually), Rasa in the Homecoming series
-The POV character in "Story of Your Life" (Ted Chiang)
-Dione in Throne of Isis (Judith Tarr)
-I never managed to finish the Gap series (Donaldson), but I'm pretty sure I remember Morn Hyland being a mom is a Big Thing
-Abigail Tillerman! I'm gonna go ahead and mention Liza too, because even though her actual screen time is maybe one page, I still consider her a major character in the first two books. (I guess the Professor is also a dad who is a major character in Solitary Blue, which somehow I both totally glossed over in the dad post and had to think about for a minute to come up with here ("There must be a sympathetic dad character in these books!"))
-Little Women and sequels
-Ael i-Mhiessan t'Rllaillieu from the Rihannsu books (Duane)
-I believe Hild's mom is a reasonably important character but I don't remember super well (Griffith)
-Ingray's mom in Provenance (maybe? She does seem to care about Ingray, even if she has pretty terrible ways of showing it)

Honorable mentions (characters that might not completely fit my criteria but I'm gonna mention them anyway, and hey, if you have an idea that doesn't exactly fit, feel free to mention it):
-Meg Murry O'Keefe (I actually really like that she gives up being a mathematician for a while, because valid choice, but on the other hand she doesn't get a big role in the books once she becomes a mom, which is in retrospect kind of annoying)
-FMA, which has everything else, doesn't have an important living mom of a non-small-child unless you count Mrs. Bradley, which maybe I should because what she lacks in screen time she makes up by being totally awesome, although Selim... probably... counts as a small child
-The Connie Willis story "And Come from Miles Around" has a mom whose kid is a toddler, but I mention it anyway because it is my favorite SF story (possibly the only story) about a stay-at-home-mom saving the day
-Selenay in the Valdemar books, although I can't remember how old Elspeth was at the time of the books... I seem to remember she was older than she was acting, though

Date: 2018-09-14 05:08 am (UTC)
zdenka: Miriam with a tambourine, text "I will sing." (Default)
From: [personal profile] zdenka
Amelia Peabody in the Amelia Peabody series (Elizabeth Peters).

Date: 2018-09-14 05:30 am (UTC)
zdenka: A woman touching open books, with loose pages blowing around her (books)
From: [personal profile] zdenka
The child is non-existent at the beginning of the series, and then he's a small child, but he grows up. :) Amelia and her husband also acquire another series-important child later at about age 12, IIRC.

Date: 2018-09-14 05:56 am (UTC)
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (Default)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Elspeth started out as... 8ish, I want to say? But maybe she was a bit older than that. Anyway, she's adult in later books when Selenay is still around, even if she spends much of that time away from home.

I would also suggest:

In Diane Duane's Young Wizards books, Nita Callahan's parents are both significant supporting characters for the first few. Then her mother dies (of cancer), but she's a significant character throughout that and in memory later.

Robin McKinley's Spindle's End. Okay, the characters would refer to themselves as godmothers, IIRC, and are careful not to claim the place of Rosie's birth mother (since they're raising her in hiding to protect her), but... they raise her from infancy to a teenager. They're her adoptive mothers in every way that matters, really.

Date: 2018-09-14 06:59 am (UTC)
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosefox
As mentioned on forestofglory's post, Catelyn Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire certainly qualifies. Cersei Lannister... um... technically non-abusive? certainly loves her kids? but not really a role model.

Copying over my comment from there:

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Lady Jessica in Dune, one of the most powerful and significant SF/F mothers of all time.

In Jane Yolen's Great Alta books and Tanya Huff's Quarters books, the heroine of an earlier book has a child who grows up to be a protagonist in a later book. The earlier heroines do fade into the background a bit once they become mothers, but they're there and significant.

I don't exactly recommend David and Leigh Eddings's Belgariad/Malloreon series, but Polgara is actually a pretty great mother figure (she's technically the hero's many-times-great-aunt but raises him from a baby) and her mother, Poledra, is a significant side character in later books. The series heroine, Ce'Nedra, becomes a mother between series one and series two, but her child is a baby/toddler for all of series two and is also kidnapped very early on, so we don't see her being maternal in any real way.

Ygrawn in Patricia Kennealy-Morrison's Arthur books definitely deserves a mention.

Toll in James K. Schmitz's The Witches of Karres is the mother of the titular witches, and doesn't show up much but is terrific when she's there. (She is an almighty good witch.)

I realize there aren't any recent books on the list... I will keep pondering.

On the non-SF/F front, Marilyn Pappano's A Man to Hold on To, a contemporary romance, has a widowed heroine with teen stepkids who's absolutely wonderful. The book is very much about what it means to be a mother—the kids' bio mom basically doesn't want them, and Therese has to step up for them even when they push her away. A real tearjerker, like most of Pappano's books.

I'm not going to get further into women's fiction and contemporary romance because mothers abound there!

Date: 2018-09-14 11:19 am (UTC)
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)
From: [personal profile] ambyr
Patricia C Wrede’s Caught in Crystal and Brandon Sanderson’s Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell (novella) both feature widowed single mothers who are innkeepers and who are forced by circumstances to bring their older kids along on dangerous adventures. (They are otherwise very different works.)

Date: 2018-09-14 02:30 pm (UTC)
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
From: [personal profile] forestofglory
Thanks for the link! I haven't read a couple of these so I will look into them and also keep an eye on the comments here.

Also I'd recommend The Natural History of Dragons books, Isabella does start out as a mom but once her kid is born she has to deal with being a mom and and scientist and it's really well handled. Also Records of a Space Born Few has two viewpoint characters who are moms. It's the thrid book in a serries but stands alone. Oh and Jo Walton's Lifelode, which is kinda hard to find has a serval great mom characters and lots of housework.

Date: 2018-09-16 02:48 am (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
I've been trying to offload books. If you'd like Lifelode sent you, email or DM me a postal address. *checks* Yep, still have it and (bonus) know where it is. :)

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Date: 2018-09-14 09:05 pm (UTC)
mildred_of_midgard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
I seem to recall Pa Ingalls getting a mention, so Ma Ingalls should.

Date: 2018-09-15 02:43 am (UTC)
mildred_of_midgard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
I've been rereading Spindle's End, and Aunt and Katriona, while not biological mothers, raise Rose, and there's a lot of emphasis on parenting.

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Date: 2018-09-15 03:58 am (UTC)
mildred_of_midgard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs Dunphrey has a mom who clearly loves her kids, but doesn't mom very well at all. Plus abusive dad. Not sure if that's what you're looking for. But it's a book I like a lot.

Date: 2018-09-14 11:01 pm (UTC)
alcanis_ivennil: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alcanis_ivennil
Not a biological mom, but Marilla Cuthbert really develops into an amazing one in Anne of Green Gables (she's kind of like McGonagall in that she appears strict at first but is actually a big softy and has a dry sense of humor). Watching the new adaptation now and crying a lot.

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Date: 2018-09-15 05:19 am (UTC)
skygiants: Sheska from Fullmetal Alchemist with her head on a pile of books (ded from book)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
I definitely rec Barbara Michaels' Witch, which I just read recently - Gothic starring a mom with a teenage daughter!

Another Barbara: Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane revolves on the question of whether the high-fantasy heroine will abandon her family to pursue various opportunities for power and magical knowledge and freedom. Her kids aren't present for very much of the book, but their existence is definitely significant.

The Blank Wall is a 1930s suspense novel about a housewife who discovers that her sweet, elderly father has accidentally murdered her daughter's no-good boyfriend and has to clean up the mess.

In Armistice, the sequel to Lara Elena Donnelly's Amberlough, the diplomat heroine's adolescent son is hostage to her good behavior and compliance with the regime she works for, and a big part of the plot revolves around the plan to rescue him.

The heroine of Amy Stewart's Girl Waits With Gun and sequels -- based-on-a-true-story adventures about a turn-of-the-century female deputy sheriff -- is deeply involved in the raising of her 'teen sister' who is actually her daughter.

In addition to Lifelode, Jo Walton's My Real Children is (unsurprisingly) full of moms!

Diana Wynne Jones' Aunt Maria has the heroine's mother as a very significant secondary character (iirc I think DWJ said that book was written as a pushback against writing parents off in magical adventures). Other good and interesting DWJ moms who play less of a role in the plot: Millie in Charmed Life, Lenina in Cart and Cwidder, and Mara in Dark Lord of Derkholm.

Kate Elliott's Court of Fives trilogy also has the heroine's mother as a major secondary character, with her own often-backscreened but hugely significant arc.

...I'm sure I can think of more but this is already a lot so I'm gonna call it for now!

Date: 2018-09-16 04:33 am (UTC)
mildred_of_midgard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
I can't believe I didn't think of My Real Children! *facepalm*

Court of Fives sounds interesting, and I need to take a look. Thanks for the rec!

Date: 2018-09-15 03:21 pm (UTC)
dolorosa_12: (matilda)
From: [personal profile] dolorosa_12
I'm seconding the recommendation for Kate Elliott's Court of Fives series. The point-of-view character's mother is a major character in her own right, and most of her arc consists of her role and skills as a mother, which are made heroic and stand her in good stead during a revolution against colonial oppression. Elliott had actually originally considered killing off the mother, but decided against it precisely because of the pervasiveness of the dead mother trope, and the fact that the mother survives shapes the story in interesting ways.

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Date: 2018-09-15 11:34 pm (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
I am a Bad Person who isn't looking at the rest of the comments yet (time time time), but the first book to mind is Sherwood Smith's Sasharia en Garde. Looking forward to returning for 37 comments after Reason's in bed tonight!

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