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Mothers and Daughters: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 29, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Meadows (Calling Out) lightly explores the interplay between mothers and daughters in this thin intergenerational drama. Sam, a 30-something new mom, tries to meet the needs of her daughter and maintain her own identity while dealing with the recent death of her mother, Iris. We meet Iris just before her death as she invites Sam home to help her prepare for her demise. Then there's Violet, Iris's mother, who at the age of 11 roamed the streets of New York, until her poverty-stricken mother put her on an orphan train to the Midwest. Violet's story is the best told, with details of her New York life and her experiences on the orphan train easily stealing the show from the more staid and familiar contemporary plot. Generational differences in opportunities, attitudes, and expectations are patly played out, but there's little attention paid to anything deeper than the surface ways the women affect each others' lives. Meadows writes decent prose, but the story doesn't dig deep enough. (Apr.)
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Review

“Wonderful...A perfect book-club pick…What mothers leave daughters is loud and proud in this book…It will prime conversations about your own choices, which may change your whole sense of self, or at least make you feel not so alone.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A poignant look at three generations struggling with loss and love." —Good Housekeeping

"Tender...perceptive...Mothers and Daughters should appeal to both of its titular groups, and may even spark the kinds of discussions and openness so uncharacteristic of many earlier parent-child relationships."—The Capital Times

“Mothers and Daughters showcases Meadow’s ability to create generations of fully formed women as they navigate life-defining moments…This is the story of how much we often don’t know about the people who raise us.” –Bookslut.com

"Rae Meadows has written a richly textured novel of three generations of mothers and daughters who by finding each other, find themselves. In these beautifully interwoven stories of birth and death, love and loss, Violet, Iris, and Samantha explore the genetic threads that connect each to the others. Mothers and Daughters is a powerful novel of women’s secrets and strength."— Sandra Dallas, New York Times best-selling author of Prayers for Sale and Whiter Than Snow

"A little girl boards New York’s orphan train at the turn of the 20th century and shapes generations to follow in this satisfying portrait of the many faces of motherhood."—Kirkus

"A book you’ll want to sit and read straight through...It will have you considering your own choices and those of your mother: What has she chosen not to tell you? What happened before you? What do you want to know?"—Bookpage

"An engaging story of three generations of strong women and the choices they make."—Library Journal

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805093834
  • ASIN: B006OHV8RW
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,342,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Texas Rose VINE VOICE on February 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved the way Rea Meadows wove the lives of these women together. We get to see them as children, young women, and adults - all woven over time - all sharing the roles of mothers and daughters.

I should not have been amazed, being both a daughter and a mother, at how intricately our lives are woven and similar to our parents' even when we don't know the whole story of their lives, but Measows still surprised me with her connections. So much of what Meadows wrote about was in my life, and I imagine in all our lives.

As the author/character states - there is "a sense of rightness in [the] simple continuum" of lives shared.

Also, there are not many stories reflecting the events of the children who were sent out of New York on the orphan trains, and I found myself holding my breath to see what would happen to Violet - would the girl we knew as Iris be a child of love or violence? The unfolding story was sometimes wonderfully frightening and joyful - and very satisfying in the end.

Altogether a very well written and well constructed story that readers will not want to put down.
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Format: Hardcover
The orphan trains (1854-1929) organized by the New York Children's Aid Society represent a fascinating bit of social engineering. It is estimated that close to 250,000 children from the East Coast made their way to new homes in the West and Midwest on these trains. As the trains moved westward, orphans and homeless, or otherwise neglected, children were displayed at local train stations where, one-by-one, they were chosen by families desiring a child. Oversight and record keeping concerning these "adoptions" was often purposely sloppy in order to ensure that the relocated children would not be able to return to their former home cities.

Rae Meadows centers Mothers and Daughters around one such train and the little girl whose mother placed her on it out of desperation. Eleven-year-old Violet would ride her orphan train all the way from New York City to Minnesota, enduring stops along the way where the babies and younger children were snatched up eagerly by families wanting a child. The older, less desirable, children like her often rode the train to the end of the line where they were offered work rather than a new family. This would be Violet's fate.

Mothers and Daughters is the story of three generations of women, a short line beginning with Violet and ending with her granddaughter, Samantha. In the present, Sam's 72-year-old mother, Iris, is dying and has asked Sam to be with her until it happens. Sam is pregnant with a daughter of her own, but Iris will not live long enough to meet her. Back home after her mother's death, Sam is surprised to receive a box of her mother's things that appears to have been unopened for decades. Among the papers in the box is a little bible dated 1910 - and inscribed by the New York Children's Aid Society.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My interest in the Orphan Trains sent me to this book. After a trip to the National Orphan Train Complex in Concordia, KS, I wanted more information about this period in American history. Meadows' book is not the source for a solid undertanding of this effort. However, the book is an enjoyable light read about three not so likeable women, one of whom has a history on the orphan trains.The storyline is somewhat fragmented and difficult to follow. It is a selection for one of my book groups, and the train segments should generate a good discussion.
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I found the main character weak. Honestly, I was not moved by the relationships and how the story unfolded. Writing style was nice but I couldn't commit to the story. I found myself frustrated. The main character honestly has opportunities many new mothers don't have and she complained and whined about her losses. Not my favorite story.
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I hateit when a book looks and sounds,(from its reviews),like its gonna be one of my favorites and then it disappoints me. Dont get me wrong,it's an okay book but not one I would re-read. Maybe I had just built it up so high in my mind,that it was bound to be a letdown no matter how good the story was. So plan on reading this book,even after the things Ive said,just don't expect a whole lot?
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Format: Hardcover
Mothers & Daughters by Rae Meadows is the story of three women.

Sam is a new mother who is having a hard time adjusting to life with a daughter of her own. She is afraid to leave Ella with anyone else and has been unable to get back to her career as a potter after nearly a year. Her relationship with her husband has changed as well..." Since the baby, it seemed her feelings toward him required moment-to moment readjustment."

Sam's mother Iris died just before Ella was born. A box containing mementos of Iris's life ends up on Sam's doorstep. As she goes through the box, she discovers things she never learned about her mother while she was alive. And her grandmother Violet as well.

Meadows explores the mother/daughter dynamic between each of the women. Each women's past influences how she mothers her own daughter. The daughters really don't know their mothers intimately. The story of each of the women is told in revolving chapters.

I became so invested in the story of Violet and her mother Lilibeth. Violet ended up on an Orphan Train, sent from New York City to the arms of a 'suitable' home. I was fascinated by her story and found myself wanting more than was written. Without giving away the storyline, Iris's life saddened me. Parts of her tale moved me to tears. I found Sam a bit hard to like in the beginning - she seemed somewhat self indulgent, but I came to appreciate her by the end of the book.

I quite enjoyed discovering who each woman was, how her life was shaped and how that in turn influenced the next generation. A thoughtful book that might make you take a second look at the relationship you have with your own mother.
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