Today we have with us historical romance author Ashley March promoting her newest release Romancing the Countess. Take it away Ashley!
The Mother-Daughter Relationship: It’s Complicated
Thanks so much to The Book Pushers for having me on the blog today as I continue to celebrate my latest release, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!
In romance novels there are usually other important relationships outside of the developing romantic relationship between the hero and the heroine. In ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, one of the relationships that I included in the book was the heroine’s relationship with her mother.
Leah George (the heroine) and Adelaide Hartwell (her mother) once played their roles very well. Adelaide would tell Leah what to do, and Leah would do it. She might not have liked it very much, but she did it because it was expected of her and she was a people-pleaser, and also because she wanted to keep the peace. On a micro-level, the relationship Leah has with her mother is the same sort of relationship she has had with Society at large. Society had expectations for how a proper young lady should behave, and Leah jumped to meet those expectations. Being the dutiful person she’s always been, when Leah marries she continues this role of propriety.
The change in this story occurs, however, when Leah’s husband dies. Suddenly Leah does not need to bow down to anyone else’s expectations but her own. She’s a widow now and has no need of either a guardian or a husband. Although her mother and Society still have expectations for her, Leah finally realizes that she’s free to do as she wishes. Leah’s mother does not want Leah to change. She wants her to continue being the same she’s always been, even after she becomes a widow.
When I wrote this story, I became aware that I was painting Leah’s mother as a villainous sort of character. And in some ways, she is: she criticizes her daughter endlessly, doesn’t believe that anything she does is right, and constantly tries to control her life.
Thank goodness I didn’t have a mother who was anything like this, but I have known a few people who did. And as with these other mothers, I never thought of Adelaide Hartwell as an evil person. Someone who was misguided and trying to live vicariously through her daughter, yes, but not malicious for the sake of being malicious. Fortunately, as the story continues, Leah learns not to bend to her mother even though the habit of doing so is there. Following someone else’s decisions can be safe, and one way Leah pursues her own happiness is by making her own decisions, even if those decisions do not always have what we would consider good consequences.
In the end, we see that even though Leah has changed, her mother hasn’t. She’s still controlling and very determined to have her own way. Yet one of the reasons why I really love Leah as a heroine in this story is not only because of how she changes herself and overcomes her own demons, but also how she learns to accept her mother so that she remains an important part of Leah’s life.
Family dynamics, including the relationships between mothers and daughters, can be very complicated. And I enjoy knowing that even when they don’t get along, the families in the romance novels I read and write can still love one another—even if it’s not the easiest thing to do. There’s hope in that, I think.
If you could give one piece of advice to Leah or any other person who has a difficult mother/family member, what would it be? When my brother turned sixteen my stepdad took a balloon bouquet made of condoms into his workplace. Has your family ever done anything extremely embarrassing to you?
One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS! Open internationally and ends October 28th. Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com!