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A tribute to mothers through film and literature

We wish the very best on this day to all grandmothers, mothers and

mothers-to-be. The Newport Beach Public Library would like to pay

tribute to all of you who undertake the world’s most important and

demanding job by letting you know about the terrific material at your

library.

Of course, the library has books and videos on parenting skills

and childhood development. But Mother’s Day is supposed to be a fun

day, so we suggest you set back and relax with a good book or a movie

that explores the nature of motherhood -- the good days and the bad

days, the ups and downs.

Alice Hoffman’s “The Probable Future” is a suspenseful but sweet

and mystical story of a young woman and her mother and grandmother

who confront the strange legacy they have inherited through the

generations. “The Mammoth Cheese,” by Sheri Holman, is satire of the

most eccentric proportions. A small town produces a 1,235-pound

cheese in celebration of the birth of 11 babies after a local couple

undergo spectacularly successful fertility treatments.

If your tastes run to the more conventional type of story,

Elizabeth Strout’s “Amy and Isabelle” paints a nuanced portrait of

the mother-daughter relationship, as does Amy Tan’s “The Bonesetters

Daughter” which limns the age-old struggle in a cross-cultural

context.

Daughters-discovering-their-

birth-mothers is a favorite theme of novelists. The witty and

affectionate “Then She Found Me,” by Elinor Lipman, tells of quiet

April Epner whose life is invaded by the tacky, talk-show hostess

mother she never knew. In contrast, Maeve Binchy’s gentle, haunting

“The Glass Lake” covers similar ground when an Irish teenager’s

mother (who supposedly drowned), shows up pretending to be her

mother’s old friend.

True-life mothers grab our attention too. Conservative political

consultant Mary Matlin has written a new book. Affectionate and

advice-filled, “Letters to My Daughters” provides loving guidance to

her two preteen girls.

Not enough time in the schedule for a good read? How about a good

movie? Hollywood has been both cruel and kind to mothers through the

years. From “I Remember Mama” to “White Oleander,” mothers and

grandmothers have been made endearing, poignant, lovable and

laughable. The Bubbie in the utterly charming “Crossing Delancey” is

the wise and all-knowing matriarch, while Ruth Gordon’s demented

mother in “Where’s Poppa?” must go into a home forthwith. Marmee in

“Little Women” is the quintessential portrait of Victorian motherhood

while Aurora Greenway in “Terms of Endearment” is her modern

opposite, yet each does the right thing by her children.

Humorous and touching, sentimental and insightful, there are movie

moms and grand-moms of all persuasions. “Parenthood,” “Freaky

Friday,” “Secrets and Lies,” and “All About My Mother” all depict

mothers shining through their worst possible situations. Albert

Brooks’ “Mother” and the classic “Gypsy” show us the other side of

motherhood and make us so grateful for the wonderful mothers we know.

* CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public

Library. This week’s column is by Sara Barnicle and Debra Walker. All

titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the

catalog at https://www.newport beachlibrary.org. For more information

about the library and its branches, please call (949) 717-3800, ext.

2.


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