These books have some of the best mother-daughter relationships that we’ve read. They range from nurturing mother figures to families that don’t get along and first-time mothers who are just trying to figure out how to raise their kids.
Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (2020)
Originally called “Girl in White Cotton,” this first book about a mother-daughter relationship was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2020. It’s about a difficult relationship between a mother and her daughter.
She is an artist, recently married, and thinking about whether or not she wants to become a mother herself one day. Her own mother, Tara, had a wild youth. She left her arranged marriage to join an ashram, took a hapless artist as a lover, and defied society’s expectations about what an Indian woman should be like.
Now, Tara is an old woman and has dementia in the early stages, so she isn’t very well. She now finds herself looking after her mother, even though she thinks her mother didn’t care for her.
This is a story about how the bonds and love between a mother and daughter stay strong even when their relationship isn’t always easy.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (2019)
It’s about many mothers, mother figures, daughters, and daughter figures in Bernardine Evaristo’s best-selling book, which won the Booker Prize. Following 12 people, the book moves through both time and space, going from Newcastle to Cornwall, from London to the US.
Amma, a theater director, and her daughter Yazz are two of the people the book talks about. Immigrant Bummi and her daughter Carole are also on the list. Evaristo also talks about other types of mother-daughter relationships, like the one between Hattie, a 93-year-old farmer, and her grandchild Morgan.
In Girl, Woman, Other, we see both the complicated relationships between women and how it is to be a Black woman in the world today.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (1989)
This book is about four Chinese American families living in San Francisco. A club called “Mahjong Club” was started by the mothers of the families. They play mahjong while eating a wide variety of foods and telling stories about their lives in China, which they left behind.
It’s a big part of the book when three mothers and their daughters come together. The daughters think their mothers’ advice isn’t relevant to their modern lives. But the more they hear, the more they realize how much their mothers’ pasts have shaped their lives.
Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes (1998)
During Rachel’s Holiday, the Walsh girls have a very unique relationship with their mother. Mammy Walsh sees a lot of herself in Rachel and can’t help but judge her more harshly than her sisters, but Marian’s wit and humor never fail to make the story come alive.
Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella (2002)
Everyone has done it. For example, she might have worn an ugly sweater because someone gave it to her. She might have gone on a bad date with a friend’s son. We’ve all done things we didn’t want to do just to make our mom happy. But in Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Becky Bloomwood does the same thing in a very unique way. She plans two weddings on two different sides of the world.
After You by Jojo Moyes (2015)
During the events of Me Before You, Lou Clarke and her mother were on bad terms. They start this book on shaky ground. However, as the story progresses, we see Josie and Lou’s relationship grow as Josie steps away from her role as a mother and wife and starts to be herself. It is a great way for us to learn more about this character from the first book.
Olivia’s Luck by Catherine Alliott (2000)
A 10-year marriage isn’t enough for Livvy. She and her daughter have to move out of their crumbling house and start a new life together. Livvy must rise to the challenge that her life has become and build a life for herself and her spirited daughter that she can be proud of. Olivia’s Luck is a book about a mother who has to deal with the world around her while trying to protect her daughter from it as much as she can. It has a lot of funny and believable characters.
Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher (2010)
The relationship between Sophie and Molly, her best friend, boss, and mother figure, is one that we had to include on this list. Even though it’s not a traditional mother-daughter relationship, it’s one that we had to include on this list. She is the kind of mother we all want to have. Molly is supportive, warm, caring, and even owns a tea shop. In this story, the two people who are together are in love. Molly helps Sophie find her happy ending because she is so kind.
The Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman (2005)
Sophie wasn’t a mother, so she didn’t have kids. Her childhood friend died and left her two daughters, Izzy and Bella, in Sophie’s care. That’s when she became a mother for the first time. Sophie’s life changes in ways she didn’t expect when she became a first-time mom to two grumpy toddlers. However, as she learns about the good and bad parts of being a mother, Sophie’s designer clothes and lifestyle that were once so important to her become less and less important.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (2014)
There are so many interesting relationships in Big Little Liars that we can’t get enough of, but we couldn’t leave out the relationship between Madeline and her teenage daughter, Abigail. Makeleine’s ex-husband, Abigail’s father, is always at odds with her mother. She always backs him. Her mother has a new family and Abigail sees herself as the outcast. It makes for great reading.
Cinderella Ate My Daughter By Peggy Orenstein
She is a journalist who had been writing about girls and women when she found out she was having a child. She was afraid. She was supposed to be an expert on girls’ behavior, and what if she couldn’t raise a “ideal” daughter? In this nonfiction book, Orenstein looks at what it means to raise a daughter who is aware of her femininity but not weighed down by it. It includes facts about the “princess mania” in the media and merchandise, as well as honest thoughts from a conflicted new mother. Turns out this is a lot of work.