A story of three generations of women, bound by the love they share, the dreams they refuse to surrender, and the secrets they held, Mothers and Daughters: A Novel reveals those accidental moments in life. How taking one path over another can yield such different outcomes, and how looking back with regret is an exercise in futility.
Violet, Iris, and Samantha are the women in this illuminating novel, and we meet each of them in the chapters that tell their stories.
Violet’s early life on the streets of New York led to an “orphan train” to the Midwest and another kind of life.
Iris thinks about her journey in life as she awaits the death that is coming sooner rather than later. Her accompaniment on this journey are her thoughts, her memories, the Virginia Woolf book she is reading at the end, and the joy of gazing out at the sea in the home she has chosen as her final residence. Her solitude and her secret plan help her through the days.
Samantha’s baby daughter Ella has taken over her world, replacing sad memories of a firstborn whose life was cut off before it began, and substituting for her artistic life as a potter. As she reshapes her life, a gift from the past arrives in the form of letters and treasures that belonged to her mother and grandmother. She ponders the unknown, and probes at the secrets of her grandmother Violet’s life and the answers none of them have.
These characters felt so real to me, and as I read their stories, I felt caught up in the lives they led. There was much that was not revealed to the individual characters that we, the readers, were privy to in snippets here and there. I liked this aspect of the book, and the fact that the author’s voice came through in these moments, telling us about how certain events played out. We had the answers to some of our questions, like: What happened to Violet’s mother? Did the street companions finally find homes? What was the significance of a blue piece of paper placed within the folds of Violet’s old Bible?
For anyone who enjoys reading about the connections between family members and about how life is sometimes all about making one turn over another, this book could be a favorite read of yours. I gave it five stars for the satisfaction I felt as I read, and even as I turned the last page.