Happy Mother’s Day! Amazing Moms in Fiction (and Real Life)


May 12, 2013 by Heidi

My mom and I attempting not to freeze on Liberty Island in winter.

I know I’m lucky.  I was raised by a family that loves to read, and books have been a part of my life for longer than I can remember.  Because my mother was a 3rd and 4th grade teacher throughout my childhood, I never questioned my love of reading books for children as well as adults.  Children’s books populate at least a part of every bookshelf in my parent’s house, and to this day I realize how wonderful it is that when I read any book that I love I can pass it along to my mother knowing she gives as little regard to intended age or genre as I do.  Without my mom, there are so many wonderful characters and worlds I never would have discovered–I credit her solely with my love of Harry Potter, an audiobook she picked up for a family road trip even though stubborn middle school me wanted nothing to do with the young wizard.

So, in honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share some of my favorite fictional moms.  The following women mark some of the best in my book–the type of mom’s that remind me in places of my own, or are something I hope to one day emulate with my own kids.

Marmee (Mrs. March) from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Susan Sarandon as Marmee

Susan Sarandon as Marmee in Columbia Pictures’ Little Women – 1994

If my house were on fire and I could only grab one book before leaving, it would be my copy of Little Women.  I recieved it as a girl in my Easter basket one year, an inscription from my mother inside the cover that means the world to me to this day–more than any of the many author-signed volumes on my shelves.  So, it should come as no surprise that Mrs. March–Marmee, ranks among my favorite literary moms. Marmee has the burden and responsibility of raising four young women while her husband fights in the Civil War.  Despite predominant social conventions, she raises her girls to think for themselves, stick to their convictions, and never think or hope for less of themselves because they are women.

Marilla Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables

Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables – 1985

Marilla Cuthbert didn’t ask for Anne Shirley to come into her life, what she wanted was a boy to help around Green Gables, but as Anne chips away at Marilla’s heart, Marilla worms her way into mine.  Yes, she is proud, stubborn, and no-frills (or puffy sleeves), but Marilla and Anne find a balance in one another, meeting in the middle.  Without Marilla, Anne may have grown to be a flibbertigibbet, but as a mother Marilla gives Anne drive, scope, and a rock to lean on.

Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews

Kate and Curran

Kate and Curran image via the authors’ website.

Kate Daniels is another unconventional mother.  Unconventional in that she never really signed up to be a parent, but when Julie fell into her life, she accepted the responsibility without any question.  Kate rocks because she would go (and has gone) to extreme lengths to help any child in need.  She pulls Julie out of a bad place, and accepts responsibility for her giving her a home, family, schooling, and training necessary to make it as an independent woman in her Atlanta.  And to Kate’s credit, she does it with a kinder hand and greater affect than her own childhood bore.

Ma (Caroline Ingalls) from Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls

Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie – 1974

Oh how I love the Little House books, and even though they’re very much the ‘this is what happened and how we did it’ type books rather than anything focused on character development, I had to include Ma Ingalls in this list.  Ma, another woman raising a small herd of little girls, teaches them everything both fun and practical.  I love the small scenes we get from Laura’s eyes watching Caroline get ready for parties and realizing that her mother is a person too.  Living a life that was rough on women, Ma never flinched at doing what needed to be done for the family.

Molly Weasley from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Julie Walters as Molly Weasley

Julie Walters as Molly Weasley in Warner Bros’ Harry Potter – 2001

Without contest, my favorite literary mom of all time goes to Molly Weasley.  Yes, the Harry Potter series boasts a number of arguably good moms–Lily Potter, Neville’s Gran, heck, even Narcissa Malfoy puts her son first, but Molly–Molly is the end-all-be-all of motherhood.  She’s no pushover, she don’t take no guff, but her love of family is #1, and once you’ve made your way into her heart you’re hers forever.  Molly knows how to have fun, how to take care of business, and how to show that she cares.  Quite frankly, I adore her (and the repeated fist-pumping she incites).

Happy Mother’s Day! Who are your favorite literary moms?

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  1. I’m such a weenie, I just got all the feels from Marilla being on your list <3

  2. kit says:

    Love these choices! I think Molly Weasley was the first to spring to mind, for me, but I have had a pretty Potter-heavy weekend so that’s probably why!

  3. Oh, this is such a sweet post! Yes, I just love Marmee and Ma and Molly and even though “mother” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of Kate, she really is an incredible – if unconventional – parent. I just love this list and I wish I was doing something special for mother’s day either than studying for exams, but thanks for the great post, Heidi! :)

  4. First, I love that you can share books with your mom. My mom still prefers to read in Korean so I had to find a common ground for us, and that turned out to be Korean dramas. Still, she’s the one who bought all my books growing up and encouraged me to read, read, read.

    One of my biggest regrets is that I gave away the beautiful hardcover edition of Little Women my mom got me because I didn’t want to read old-timey books. Years later, I finally read Little Women and sobbed twice, once during and once after when I realized what I’d given away. God, I was such an Amy back in the day.

    I love that you included Kate! One of my favorite things about that series is how she immediately starts referring to Julie as “my kid” and treating her as such, even before it became official.

    All fantastic choices, Heidi! And for once, I know them all! :)

  5. Ahhh what a great list! Those are some of my favorites, too. All the moms I could think of in literature were the bad kind, which might have said something about my mood this past week…

    And I must read this Kate Daniels series. I tried to audiobook because it was all we had available at the library, and it was terrible. I’m just going to have to buy it for my Kindle.

  6. I’m with you for Marmee in LITTLE WOMEN. My other number one choice has got to be Cordelia Naismith from Bujold’s Vorkosigan series.

  7. This is such a fantastic post! I love all of these as well – though I have yet to read Kate Daniels yet, I’m planning to read through the entire series this summer during my series challenge – but Marilla on your list is for sure one of my favorites of all time. My mom also pushed me to read my entire life, and that is one legacy that I hope to pass from her onto my own children.

  8. Chachic says:

    Marmee is an excellent choice for this list, I loved reading Little Women when I was a teen. But then I still couldn’t get over (spoiler) Laurie ending up with Amy. Yay for including Kate! I wouldn’t have initially thought of her because you’re right, she’s an unconventional mom. My parents encouraged me to read when I was a kid and it was also my mom who got me copies of the Harry Potter books. She doesn’t have that much time to read lately (she prefers to spend her time on social networking sites) but I’m thankful that she influenced me to become a reader.

  9. books stores says:

    Waw, really great list here, I want to planning to give my mom best fiction books at her birthday so I am searching and found your blog and Awesome Indies are awesome place for books.

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