Title: Mothers Grimm
Author: Danielle Wood
Genre: contemporary/fairy tale retellings
Date Read: 08/11/2015
In Mothers Grimm, Danielle Woods presents four shorter stories that break down the “Good Mother” trope/stereotype often found in fairy tales (the Good Mother is often so good that she is dead). Each story is linked to a fairy tale but turns it on its head to depict the realities of motherhood.
Well, this was disappointing.
A disclaimer: I am not a mother and I don’t have any intentions to become one. It is possible the stories in this book may have resonated with me more if I had children.
The four stories all depicted pretty bleak outlooks on motherhood. The women felt trapped in failing relationships, or resentful of the children who were taking up their lives, or just plain unhappy. To read these stories, you would think that there wasn’t a single rewarding aspect of being a parent. You would think that being a mother completely ruins lives.
The four characters were all well-written and individual, but none was especially likable. One of them was a bitchy gossip. Another lied to her husband about being on the Pill, then seemed to try to make out it was his fault when she fell pregnant a second time. The third was an eighteen-year-old who had made some bad choices; I didn’t mind her too much. The fourth was a mother in the 1950s who felt she was disappointing her own mother. The problem was that I wasn’t invested in any of them. I think perhaps part of the author’s aim was to make these women unlikeable, to ensure there was not one ounce of Good Mother in them. But what’s wrong with a woman succeeding in at least some areas?
The other issue was that I came in expecting some kind of fantasy or fairy tale element. This was absent. Even the links to the fairy tales were tenuous at best. Perhaps that’s my own fault for coming in with expectations of something that wasn’t, but I still felt a little bit ripped off at the end of it.