Review by Choice Review

This book addresses the representation of mother-daughter relationships in literature, a subject that received attention most recently in Mothers and Daughters: Connection, Empowerment, and Transformation, a sociological study edited by Andrea O'Reilly and Sharon Abbey (CH, Dec'00). Taking a feminist psychoanalytic approach and grounding her argument in the theories of Freud and Lacan, Greenfield (Fordham Univ.) closely analyses six novels written between 1778 and 1816: Frances Burney's Evelina, Anne Radcliffe's The Italian, Mary Wollstonecraft's The Wrongs of Woman; or, Maria, Maria Edgeworth's Belinda, Amelia Alderson Opie's Adeline Mowbray, and Jane Austen's Emma. In most of these novels, motherhood is important because of its absence. Greenfield explores the historically contingent assumptions about "motherhood" common in this period, arguing that the absence of the mother actually highlights the strength of the mother-daughter bond and often produces homoerotic or incestuous desire that then becomes the subject of the novel. Set within a context that acknowledges contemporary representations (and the political implications) of female sexuality, each of Greenfield's chapters offers a self-contained discussion of a specific novel, which makes her book particularly useful for readers interested in the writers she treats. Upper-division undergraduates and above. A. E. McKim St. Thomas University

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