Mother and Child Reunion. Dads, Too

Seeing characters see their parents again after a somewhat or very long time can be interesting for novel readers. There’s a lot of emotion involved, whether the reunion is joyful or reluctant. And anyone who has parents (that’s quite a few people ๐Ÿ™‚ ) can relate.

It so happened that I just coincidentally read three consecutive novels containing parent/child meet-ups as strong elements — Albert Camus’ The Stranger, Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park, and Philippa Gregory’s Earthly Joys. All very different books, all excellent books.

Mearsault’s mother has just passed away as The Stranger begins, but the “reunion” of dead mom and living son is still fraught — and will have a huge impact on Mearsault’s fate in the second half of Camus’ famous absurdist novel.

In the riveting Gorky Park, there’s a pivotal scene between Russian investigator Arkady Renko and his father — a famous World War II general who Arkady hadn’t visited in years. The meeting is uncomfortable — the dad is seemingly near death and far from friendly, and the long-ago suicide of the father’s wife/Arkady’s mother hangs between the two men. But the meeting is an important part of Smith’s intricate plot.

The absorbing historical-fiction book Earthly Joys includes an awkward encounter between 17th-century royal gardener John Tradescant and the mother and stepfather of Elizabeth — the woman John promised to marry six years earlier and hadn’t seen during that time because he was to return only when able to financially support a wife. John’s willingness to accept delayed gratification and the patient way he talks to the mom and stepdad say a lot about his personality. Then, as the novel goes on, John’s months-long trips in the service of the masters he serves so devotedly (too devotedly?) make for resentment from John Jr. whenever dad returns.

Belated parent/child meet-ups are also in various novels I read in years past rather than this winter. For instance, there’s a very dramatic meeting between the title character of George Eliot’s masterful Daniel Deronda and the mother Daniel never knew while raised in another household.

Fanny Burney’s entertaining 18th-century novel Evelina includes the scenarios of the raised-in-the-country title character meeting her not-nice biological father Sir John Belmont after many years and then, following Evelina’s long stays in places like London, her again seeing the kind Rev. Arthur Villars who raised her.

Then there’s Jhumpa Lahiri’s excellentย The Lowland, in which Bela has a very resentful reunion with the mother (Gauri) who abandoned her years earlier. (A scene that commenter bebe mentioned under my previous post.)

In Geraldine Brooks’ intense March, the family from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women sees their father again when he returns home traumatized by his harrowing Civil War experiences.

And L.M. Montgomery’s superb The Blue Castle has Valancy Stirling reluctantly coming back to the house of her mother after Valancy’s wonderful relationship with Barney Snaith hits an eye-opening snag. The narrow-minded mom soon treats her daughter with more respect for all the wrong reasons.

Novels you remember in which children see their parents again after a period of time?

My 2017 literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — about topics such as March 14’s national student walkout to protest loose gun laws — is here.

61 thoughts on “Mother and Child Reunion. Dads, Too

  1. Dave, I think I’ve lost whatever brain power I used to have. I woke up this morning and not only did I forget it was now Daylight Savings Time, but I thought it was Monday and got up especially to read your latest post! Imagine my chagrin when I started up my laptop and realized it was Sunday morning and an hour later than I thought! I think I’ve had one too many knocks to my head lately, or at least I’d like to blame it on that! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A novel called “The Dwelling Place” by Catherine Cookson fits into your category beautifully! It is such a compelling story of a young lady who was raped and gives up her resultant child to the rapist in the hopes of giving him a better life. It’s a very complicated tale that I won’t go into any further here, simply because I can’t remember all of the details. It’s been YEARS since I read it, but it’s a great read! There is a mother and child reunion!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, lulabelleharris! “The Dwelling Place” plot makes that novel seem hard to like, so Catherine Cookson must have done an impressive writing job to make the book a great read.

      Like

  3. Your employment of the Simon title allows me to note: While the mother and child reunion “is only a motion away”, ” the movement you need is on your shoulder”, if McCartney is to be believed. In both instances, I can but retort: whhaaat’s with all the non sequitur kineticism????

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny, I always thought that reunion was “only emotion away,” but of course “only a motion away” makes more sense. ๐Ÿ™‚

      As a lyricist, one Paul (Simon) beats the other Paul (McCartney) most of the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Dave! I enjoyed reading this insightful blog post on Mother and Child Reunion. But, the first book that comes to my mind after reading this post is the novel For One More Day by Mitch Albom that I read several years ago. Ablom’s protagonist lives a miserable life who happens to meet his dead mother. Although, it’s a disturbing story I loved the book more for its magical element. I highly recommend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Joanna!

      I’ve never tried Mitch Albom’s fiction, but I did like his “Tuesdays With Morrie” a lot. “For One More Day” sounds very intriguing — I appreciate the recommendation! I certainly enjoy the magical elements in books ranging from the “Harry Potter” series to “One Hundred Years of Solitude” to “The House of the Spirits,” etc.!

      Like

  5. The first books that I thought of were โ€œHarry Potterโ€. Maybe no long lost reunions there, but parents are a big part of the story. Especially the Weasleys. I love meeting Molly for the first time through Harryโ€™s eyes. I think Ron and his siblings take the crazy, loving family for granted, and itโ€™s so much fun when the traumatised Harry is embraced by that warmth. Thereโ€™s also a sense of nostalgia the few times Harry gets to see his parents – not in the real world flesh of course. But every snippet that weโ€™re given of James and Lily, either through magic, or through the people who knew them, gives Harry more and more a sense of belonging.

    Dave, I must confess that I have zero interest in watching even one second of the Oscars, however the Classic Movie channel is playing all Oscar winners this month, and โ€œTo Kill a Mockingbirdโ€ is on the TV as I type this. In โ€œGo Set A Watchmanโ€, a grown up Scout comes home to a father who is not only different than she remembers, but more than a little different than the Atticus Finch we remember as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Susan, for the eloquent comment!

      The “Harry Potter” books are VERY relevant to this topic — as is specifically Harry’s poignant “reunions” with his murdered parents. If I remembering right, there’s also such a “reunion” with Sirius Black, who was a sort of surrogate parent to Harry. And the Weasleys are indeed a surrogate family for Harry.

      The “To Kill a Mockingbird” movie is wonderful — one of the best screen adaptations of a novel ever, I think.

      Like

  6. As Elena mentioned, Fathers and Sons is an excellent example, and one of my favourites. But how about Anna Karenina: after separating from her husband, Anna is not allowed to see her son. On his birthday she goes to her old house to surprise him early in the morning, when he is still asleep. One of the most endearing scenes in Russian literature.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hmmmm…. In my Monday fog I’m coming up a little short here. And the only thing that I can think of might make you giggle. Have you ever seen the movie Stardust? The main character unites with his mother (separated at birth) during a very trying time in the movie while witches are killing everyone, an evil prince is lurking about, and general mayhem is breaking loose haha. It’s actually a very cute moment (and a very cute movie too!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for that example, ireadthatinabook! There are definitely a number of children’s and YA books with strong parent/child-reunion elements, and “Ronya the Robberโ€™s Daughter” sounds like one of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I havenโ€™t read these books but they sound intriguing as always, Dave. And Iโ€™m not coming up with other titles that impressed me with this theme. The first story that popped into my head reading this post was that of the Prodigal Son – one of my favorites in the world. And a pure example of a parent welcoming and accepting a wayward child who blew it in every sense of the word. Prepared to eat with the pigs upon his return, the son was surprised when Dad threw a big party and served a fatted calf. The best part of the story was the jealousy of the brother who had remained faithful and walked the straight and narrow. His father told the angry brother they had to celebrate because the son who was dead was now alive!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Shallow Reflections! Though I haven’t read much of the Bible, I’m sure I read a version of the Prodigal Son story somewhere. It’s certainly a famous/classic tale, and an excellent example of how a charismatic and adventurous but irresponsible sibling gets better or at least equal parental treatment as the more dutiful sibling. A theme in lots of literature and in real life. Great, very relevant mention of that story by you, and nicely summarized!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll go back to one of my characters that I talked about just last week, Fanny Price in “Mansfield Park.” When she won’t accept the marriage proposal of Henry Crawford, she is sent back to her parents in Portsmouth who are living in poverty with way too many children. As poorly as she was treated at Mansfield Park, it was nothing like the situation of her parents. Her one brother was able to escape from the turmoil of that living experience by joining the Navy, and eventually her sister Susan was able to join her at the Bertram estate.

    Dave, how did you make out during the Nor’easter that blew through here last week? We lost power on Friday at 5:00 pm and finally got it back last (Sunday) night. We were so happy because they were telling us it would be out until Tuesday night at 11:59 pm. We were invited to stay with family/friends, but I needed to be with my dogs and kitty. We had to throw out most of the food in the freezer and fridge. One night I was thinking about that old expression of a “three dog night” which as you know was the name of a rock band I used to enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Kat Lib! “Mansfield Park” is a great example of the parent-child theme! Jane Austen’s work can definitely fit many themes — with some exceptions, such as a theoretical blog post about heavily armed action heroes defeating the bad guys despite long odds. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Very sorry you lost power, and most of your food, because of that Nor’easter. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I was luckier. My main memory of Friday was going to the library during the heart of the storm and feeling like I was going to be blown over. I guess the books I was carrying gave me some ballast. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I definitely remember Three Dog Night! As a kid, I almost wore out my record player playing “One”!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I also wanted to mention that my brother, who wrote poetry and died around 40 years ago had given me a list of books I should read, included “The Stranger,” which I did read. I’d like to say I’ve read them all, but right now, that list is somewhere in one of many boxes that are sitting here waiting for my move, though I don’t know exactly where I’m going now, although my latest thought is to move to the Poconos to get much cheaper housing and fulfil the last item on my bucket list — to live close to a lake, even if it’s a cabin (must have indoor plumbing!!). There are many empty houses there so I think I can find something quite nice in my price range.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kat Lib, very nice (and poignant) that your late brother gave you a list of books to read. Unfortunately, there’s only so much time to read so many things. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

        As you know, “The Stranger” is a short novel, so it’s easier to get to/through then some. I found it very interesting and worth reading, but the protagonist’s apathy and deadened emotions got really depressing after a while. Maybe that was part of the point…

        Again, good luck with the ultra-difficult tasks of finding a place and the move itself, wherever and whenever it will be. Living near a lake would be great!

        Like

  10. Cool post, and I hadn’t thought about Gorky Park in a while! Great thriller.

    Obviously I have to mention Turgenev’s “Fathers and Children,” normally translated as ” Father’s and Sons,” here. It is indeed about fathers and sons as the Romantic generation of the 1820s clashes with the Materialist/ Realist generation of the 1850s, as the sons come home from college.

    And then in the 20th century we have Lyudmila Petrushevskaya’s “Time: Night,” in which three generations of women living together in the same apartment struggle to keep their family from disintegrating as the youngest keeps leaving to go live with men and then coming back after being abandoned by them.

    I’m also an enormous Amy Tan admirer and her books are all based in some way on mother-daughter relationships, and being reunited with the mother, which gave as their kernel her own relationship with her mother and her mother’s family. Her collection of essays “The Opposite of Fate” delves into her actual relationship with her mother more deeply and is fascinating, hilarious, and heartbreaking. Also, for me personally as someone with Lyme disease, the actual essay “The Opposite of Fate,” while not having much to do with interfamily relations, other than that she thought her Lyme disease was her family history of brain cancer and dementia catching up to her, was both heartening and enraging.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Elena! Glad you liked the post. ๐Ÿ™‚

      “Gorky Park” IS a great thriller! And the novel is now a terrific time capsule in its late-Brezhnev-era Soviet Union setting. I liked the book so much that I took out the first two sequels (“Polar Star” and “Red Square”) from the library last week.

      Excellent mention of that famous Turgenev novel, which I have on my bookshelf. I read it maybe 15 years ago and am unfortunately forgetting most of the details except for the general theme of nihilism. Its title alone perfectly fits the theme of this blog post. ๐Ÿ™‚

      As for Amy Tan, it has also been years since I read and greatly enjoyed her work — specifically, “The Joy Luck Club” and “The Kitchen God’s Wife.” I should try her writing again.

      And I should read Lyudmila Petrushevskaya’s “Time: Night.” I appreciate the expert summaries of that and the other books you mentioned.

      Last but not least, very sorry you’re dealing with Lyme disease. Friends of mine and their children — four people total — have all had that very difficult disease. I have a vague memory I might have mentioned this before to you or someone else, but one member of that family (Pamela Weintraub) wrote an influential book about Lyme.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I really enjoyed “Polar Star” and “Red Square” as well, *although* I had to cringe over the confusion in “Red Square” between the Malevich painting and the place in Moscow, which do NOT have the same name in Russian. There’s also a good sort of historical thriller-y book by the same author set in Wigan (near where I also used to live) about coal miners.

        Thanks, Dave and Kat, for the well wishes! Yes, it’s just ridiculous how common Lyme disease is and how poorly it’s treated! I basically have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (terrible name!) as the result of a long-term Lyme disease infection that was only diagnosed after about 20+ years. I’m finally getting real treatment for it so I’m hoping that at some point I’ll be out and about more. I’ve heard of the book by Pamela Weintraub but haven’t read it yet–I should look into it, so thanks for the reminder!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I read about that “Red Square” confusion, Elena. Clever title, I guess, with its double meaning! And Martin Cruz Smith does seem to have written many books, with or without Arkady Renko as the star.

          Yes, from everything I’ve heard firsthand from Pamela and read, Lyme seems to be scandalously misunderstood and misdiagnosed. The very best of luck with your belated real treatment.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Elena, I forgot to mention that I was put through so many tests back in 1988, and the first diagnosis I got was Epstein-Barr virus, which you don’t hear much about these days. Now it’s fibromyalgia (my doctor called it fibrositis for lack of a better word at the time). After going through multiple doctors, the aforesaid physician admitted he didn’t know who, why or what but said he’d treat my symptoms and someday might know exactly what it was — which I found to be extremely comforting, because he was the first doc to acknowledge that I had real pain, fatigue and all the other symptoms instead of treating me as some hypochondriac who made all of this stuff up. If you ever want to touch base with me, ask Dave if he’ll give me your email address and I’d be happy to explore this further with you. If not, I understand completely!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Elena, I’ve got a friend here in Pennsy that has fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme disease. It’s very difficult for her to come out with me and other friends, but I understand how difficult it is to have any one of those diagnoses, so I wish you well and hope this resolves for you sometime soon.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Me too, Dave! I must check my email every 15 minutes or so on Sunday nights waiting to read your latest post. It’s one of my highlights of the week! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

          • Ha, Dave! I can’t even remember the last new movie I’ve seen on DVD, let alone seen in the theater. I find myself so bewildered by the number of awards or reality shows that are out there now, I’ve just given it up completely. Somehow I don’t think I’m missing out on anything really important! ๐Ÿ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

            • Nice to know not everyone was watching the Oscars, Kat Lib! I’ve watched it maybe once or twice in my life. The only new movies I see these days are kid films my younger daughter wants to see. Maybe I should at least get to “Black Panther.” I did see a 2017 movie — “Wonder,” based on the YA novel — at my friend Ed’s house a couple of weeks ago. Really good. And there ARE a lot of awards shows. Hard to keep track…

              Like

            • Kat Lib, I streamed “Get Out!” last month, and last weekend I watched “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. They were both good movies, but I don’t find newer movies nearly as interesting as many of the older ones. For example, I haven’t seen last year’s “La La Land”, and probably won’t. There was one evening when I was thinking about renting it but decided to watch “Singin’ in the Rain” instead, which I own. Both movies are musicals about young people trying to make it in Hollywood. I decided to go with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. Yes, I’m old, old, old — LoL! — but my 34 year old daughter prefers “Singing in the Rain”, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              • Pat, I’d much rather watch a movie with Gene Kelly and anyone else rather than Emma Stone and whoever played her boyfriend… was it one of the Ryan’s that I always get confused? But apparently Debbie Reynolds wasn’t a dancer and learned on the job, which you’d never know by watching the movie, and of course Donald O’Connor was fantastic!

                Liked by 2 people

                • Oh my gosh, Kat Lib, I always get the Ryans confused, too! LOL!!! I don’t want to do the “back in my day” thing, but remember when it was actually important for stars to have their own look ? I’m not sure when things started meshing so much, maybe in the 80s, but now it seems the men are very similar looking to one another — which is one reason I think Jon Hamm stood out so much in “Mad Men”, because he had that Old Hollywood thing going for him. Same thing with the new breed of female stars. A lot of them are almost interchangeable. And yes, it makes it so much more impressive that Debbie Reynolds had to learn to dance for “Singin’ in the Rain” and she held her own with two of the best hoofers in the world! She was a hard-working lady from the very beginning.

                  Liked by 1 person

          • What a BUSY night, Dave! Reba and I were at the theatre watching “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and missing the Oscars! I got home in time to see the last few winners. Thank goodness your blog is available at my leisure! I cannot believe that our Broadway Theatre League continues to schedule performances during Oscar night!

            Liked by 1 person

            • That does sound like a busy night, and it IS a bit strange to schedule performances during the Oscars. Then again, I posted a blog during those awards… ๐Ÿ™‚

              I hope you and Reba enjoyed “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”!

              Like

        • Kat Lib, I’m so glad to know it’s not just me who does this! Of course, for me, it’s Monday morning, and I should be working, but I spend a fair bit of time refreshing Dave’s page to see if there’s a new topic yet. I’m sure my boss would be fine with it if she knew how great this blog is ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks so much for the kind words, Susan! (And the great boss-related quip. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Now Iโ€™m feeling guiltier that I will not be writing a March 25 or April 1 blog post, because of an upcoming trip. But columns will happen on March 11, March 18, April 8, and so onโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ™‚

            Like

            • Oh no, Dave, you’re not allowed to take any time off!! As you know, I’m only kidding, and I’m glad you warned me. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s now snowing here, which now that I think I’m moving to the Poconos, which is colder than here, I’m feeling somewhat peaceful about the snow. It’s hard for me to let go of the feelings I had while working when you had to decide whether to try to get to the job in terrible driving conditions or wait for possible closings or lose a day’s vacation on a snow day. We’re making progress on getting my house here ready for sale, which I need to do before looking for another home anywhere, but I’m trying to be optimistic about the whole process!

              Liked by 1 person

              • Ha, Kat Lib! ๐Ÿ™‚ I will definitely miss posting new pieces and seeing the comments during those two weeks, but I’ll still check in if/when people comment under previous posts.

                Good luck with the snow! We’re getting plenty here in northern New Jersey, too, and school has been canceled. I remember when working full time the struggle to get to Manhattan on snowy mornings. Luckily I was a train commuter rather than a driver.

                Getting a house ready for sale is no fun… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

                Like

                • Thanks, Dave, you are currently absolved by me about taking time off during a couple of Sundays! ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you enjoy the time spent elsewhere, wherever it may take you! I’ve got so much to keep me busy in the anticipation for the move, I honestly don’t know where to begin with. I did start re-watching yesterday the movie “The Parent Trap,” the early one with Hayley Mills, Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara. So, that may tell you something about me! But I do have other more serious movies to watch, but I do love some of the older ones that I enjoyed in junior high school!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Thanks, Kat Lib! Funny absolution line! I’m sure I’ll discuss or at least mention the trip in my April 8 or April 15 post. ๐Ÿ™‚

                    A pre-move period IS incredibly busy. I remember the frantic months before I moved in 2014.

                    The first “The Parent Trap” movie is excellent, as was the 1990s remake with Lindsay Lohan — before she had all kinds of celebrity troubles.

                    Like

                    • I’m not sure I could watch the remake of “The Parent Trap” now, as I’m still so saddened by the death of Natasha Richardson over a relatively small bump on the head. Every time I’ve fallen in the last four or so months I’ve hit my head and I always think about her. Last night I slid out of bed, landing on my rear end, but fortunately I didn’t hurt anything other than my dignity, as well as having a hard time getting up from the floor back into bed!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That death WAS incredibly sad and surprising. I haven’t seen “The Parent Trap” remake since it first came out, but it would indeed be hard to watch now.

                      Falling out of bed is no fun. (I’ve been there, too — my apartment’s “master” bedroom is not big enough for a very wide bed.) Glad you weren’t really hurt.

                      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s