Reflections on motherhood, without the apple pie

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Writers and Their Mothers. Edited by Dale Salwak. Palgrave Macmillan; 257 pages; $34.99 and £19.50.

Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty. By Jacqueline Rose. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 256 pages; $26. Faber & Faber; £12.99

A SHIVER of anxiety may strike female readers who pick up “Writers and Their Mothers”. On top of everything else, are mothers to be blamed for creativity skewed or thwarted in the cradle, at the breast or on the potty? Open this book of essays, and sure enough, there is William Golding’s mum apologising on her deathbed for having been a “bad mother”. “Too little cuddling” was what she meant, the author himself thought; “too much bottle…too little bosom”.

These details come in a wonderful piece by Golding’s daughter, Judy Carver. Mildred Golding was not a “bad” mother, but several others fit the description. John Ruskin’s made him interpret the…Continue reading

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