What’s it all about?:
Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. She has everything she wants; all she has to do is keep it that way. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.
Resentful of her sister’s newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in the psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother Will shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, he’s separated from the other kids around town and is homeschooled to ensure his safety. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of the bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.
What did WE think?:
First impression of Mother, Mother?
BETH: I thought the cover was instantly captivating – I especially liked the type. And reading the blurb I made an “Ooooh” sound, so was definitely interested!
LUNA: I thought the blurb sounded really intriguing.
Is Mother, Mother a thrilling read?
BETH: At points I really think it was. It took me a little while to get into it but by the end I was literally on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what was going to happen.
LUNA: In parts. Truth be told, for the first 100+ pages I wasn’t that convinced. It’s not that I didn’t like what I was reading but it just felt like it was taking a really long time to read.
How well do you think mental health was dealt with in this novel?
BETH: Quite well I think. There are a variety of mental health issues in this novel which seem to be experienced differently for each character. For example, when we compare Violets “crazy” to Josephine’s own issues, it’s a completely different ball game. And then we have the ones who tend to suffer in silence yet clearly have problems like Rose, Will and even the father, Douglas.
LUNA: As an overview ok I think. Because of Violet’s detention she gets the more “professional” insight but even so nothing is really in-depth, having said that I did like the other patients she makes friends with. Despite their small parts in the overall story I thought they really stood out.
Which of the two sisters do you think you’d be; Violet or Rose?
BETH: Can I say a bit of both? I kind of have two sides to my personality and part of me is that good girl that stays quiet and does what her mother says to please everyone. Then there is the rebel half who rails against everything forced upon me and wants to be more of a free spirit.
LUNA: I really want to say Violet, the rebel, the girl who fights back but realistically I think I’d probably be more like Rose. Pretending to be what my mother wants to make it easier, even if I hated it. Think I’d take the Violet option of escape though.
That said he used his alcoholism as an excuse so by the time he does actually get involved it’s too little too late.
BETH: Yes and No. I suppose it all depends on the whole nature versus nurture question. Are we born a certain way or do we learn all our behaviours? I certainly think that having a difficult childhood perhaps provided Josephine with bad tools for when she became a parent, but at the same time not all people with bad childhood experiences grow up to abuse their children.
How do you feel about William’s relationship with his mother?
BETH: I love when we can see situation through more than one pair of eyes. As mentioned above, I would have LOVED to see what Josephine was thinking at points – although it may make the book profoundly more disturbing than it already is? However, Will and Violet are a great pair of voices for the story and it was interesting to read about the same event with a different perspective.
Star rating (out of 5):