Daughters, by Elizabeth Buchan
Elizabeth Buchan’s story of a mother and her daughters is told from different perspectives within a family of women. Lara, mother to Maudie and adoptive mother to Eve and Jasmine sparks the story alight. Her story is filled with love for her daughters, initiating the theme of motherhood with her portrayal of the strong bond she feels towards each of the girls.
As the novel progresses, Buchan moves from the perspective of Lara to that of her daughters. Jasmine and Eve are the oldest daughters, whom Lara fell in love with when she first met them and their father Bill. Bill and Lara married, and when their marriage broke down, it was Lara who brought up the girls. Jasmine reflects on her childhood, demonstrating to the reader how differently her and her sister felt with regards to their place within the family once Bill and Lara conceived their own child, Maudie. The bond between Jasmine and Eve, born out of their biological mother’s death, is clearly portrayed. Blood and genetics unite Eve and Jasmine, but their partnership stands as a barrier between themselves and Maudie, the youngest daughter. Weaving from one woman to the next, this novel becomes an exploration into the many layers of the mother-daughter relationship and the further intricacies involved in families with adopted children. As the novel progresses, it is evident that not all her daughters feel that they are equal in Lara’s eyes, but Lara’s love stands strong and true in her own portrayal of events.
The women are both brought together and torn apart by Eve’s wedding. Eve is determined and focused, filled with thoughts of her wedding day. The wedding becomes a symbol of her moving on, turning from her childhood and making her own decisions without relying on her mother. Lara finds herself in an extremely difficult situation, unsure whether to voice her belief that Eve is making the wrong decision in marrying her fiancé.
Maudie, in turn, is desperate to get away from home and start her own new life. She is very aware of Lara’s love for her. However, she is also aware of the bond between her sisters that casts her as different, as much as the other two girls feel isolated by the fact that Lara is not their biological mother. Both Maudie and her sisters appear to believe that they are more alone than one-another, but as each daughter makes her commitment and sets about changing her own life, it is Lara who suffers; as they move forward in their own lives, they will be leaving her behind.
Through the use of changing perspective, this bittersweet novel is one which mothers and daughters alike may relate to. Written in a light-hearted manner and peppered with humour, it is touching and relevant to many.