Elizabeth Jane Howard

Mothers & Daughters

Private Papers


Chatto and Windus 224pp £8.95 order from our bookshop

The relationship between mother and daughter is probably the most insidious, powerful, elaborate and devastating connection known to woman. (It can, of course, alternatively be the most powerful, elaborate, rewarding and positive relationship, but either there is far less of that about, or novelists find it harder or less interesting to deal with.) Fathers and daughters have had their share of dramatic and literary interest, but that is generally cruder stuff – the tyrant, the sexually hung-up bully manipulating his child, often ineffectually: Elizabeth Barrett simply eloped with Browning, and the most that Mr Bronte could do to obstruct Charlotte’s happiness was to refuse to give her away at her marriage, but if either of these women had had mothers they could remember, it is a fair bet that the maternal influence would have persisted long past the altar.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,