So much work goes into the job description of “mother.” It’s not just about the care and the sacrifice; it’s the need to discipline and encourage as well as live your life in such a way that you show your kids how to be, how to make decisions, how to live your dreams but also live for others. I’m not a mom, but I’ve been inspired by my own mom, but also some of the moms I’ve grown to love in my favorite novels.
Below I’ve listed five of my ultimate book mommy inspirations:
1. Marilla Cuthbert
Mother To: Anne Shirley
Where We First Met Her: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
As an adopted child, I’ve always felt that, while blood is thicker than water, love beats blood any day of the week. As my mom likes to say, adoption just means you grow in your mom’s heart instead of her tummy. And while Marilla had her hands full with the melodramatic scrape-magnet Anne Shirley, she did more than her duty by the girl she and her brother adopted. Maybe she wasn’t the most vocal of loving mothers out there, but actions speak louder than words, and she has always been fair, accepting, and loving of Anne, who was a manic pixie dream girl before that even was a thing.
2. Lady Ilane of Mindelan
Mother To: Keladry of Mindelan (and her siblings)
Where We First Met Her: First Test (Protector of the Small #1) by Tamora Pierce
She’s her daughter’s greatest ally and, alongside the Lady Knight Alanna of Trebond and Olau, inspiration. And for good reason. Lady Ilane might not enter training as a knight of the realm like she supports her daughter Kel in doing, but that makes her no less fierce. She’s a diplomat’s wife and has a keen mind when it comes to politics and problem-solving, and she long ago proved her warrior woman status by saving Yamani royals from would-be killers. Like her daughter, she is skilled with the glaive in her hand, and while most noble mothers would be downright grouchy or even forbidding about having their daughters take up a sword and train as knights, Lady Ilane remains Kel’s stalwart defender when others question her decisions.
3. Molly Weasley
Mother To: Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, and Ginny
Where We First Met Her: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling
Speaking of another mother who fights for her kids, did Molly Weasley kick butt in the battle against Voldemort, or what? At the Battle of Hogwarts, she took out the dark witch Bellatrix Lestrange. But when she isn’t duking it out with wand in hand, she’s everything you imagine when you think of the word “motherly.” She’s gentle and kind and (as she has to be with five boys in the family) occasionally nagging. She’s friendly and warm, and she treats the orphaned Harry like her own. She’s the first to boast of her kids’ accomplishments, but also the first to send a Howler when they turn to mischief. The Weasleys may have been poor in terms of finances, but they had a wealth of love, and at the center of it all was Molly.
4. Lady Violet Bridgerton
Mother To: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth
Where We First Met Her: The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1) by Julia Quinn
Lady Violet may occasionally be a militant Marriage Mart Mama—okay, there’s no “occasionally” about it—but she’s definitely a character any fan of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series has grown to love. Don’t believe me? Just check out how often Ms. Quinn is asked about writing a novel featuring Violet and Edmund’s love story! In fact, she’s asked about it so often, it’s on her FAQs. But while she may get carried away with the idea of marrying her children off and catch a lot of flak for naming her kids in alphabetical order, at the heart of it, it’s because she wants her children to be happy and know a love like the one she shared with her husband, even though he was taken too soon. Fans of the series see so many facets of Violet throughout the series: she’s a matchmaking mama in
5. Anne Blythe
Here’s one example of how good parenting begets good parents. All grown up and married to Gilbert Blythe, Anne Shirley is an exceptional mom. She’s caring and gentle and wise, but also a lot of fun, encouraging her kids to have as much “scope for imagination” as she did as a young girl. She loves her children intensely, and when two of them die (one as an infant and one later on), much of the reader grief we feel is for her as well as for the characters themselves.
Now, you’ve probably thought of some other moms you’d include in your own list. I had a few more I listed as faves, but who didn’t quite make it to my top five: the ethereal Clara from Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits; the ever-patient Marmee, or Mrs. March, from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women; the brilliant Kate Murry from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time… and so on. Are these some of your faves? Or do you have others? Would love to hear who you’d list in your top five, so please do leave a comment!