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Anna Quindlen talks about her new memoir 'Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake'

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AQ: Amy Bloom.

BNR: Right. Of course. I actually forget what the theme was.

AQ: I think she said love.

BNR: And you said that yours was motherhood. I think that's absolutely true. I was going back through that box you assembled for each of us of the first editions of all of your books, and I was struck by how it's always motherhood troubled by violence, or illness, or even just circumstance like in Blessings.

AQ: I actually think my theme is a combination of motherhood and loss, and clearly anybody who knows anything about my personal history knows where that comes from. My mother died when I was 19. In novel after novel, that emerges as a theme, most dramatically in Every Last One. It's actually not a theme of the novel I'm working on now.

BNR: Is the protagonist a mother?

AQ: She is. But it's not as important a part of her character as it is for most of the women I've written about in the past.

BNR: Because I was thinking about how even in Rise and Shine, which is one of your more lighthearted novels, Meghan Fitzmaurice's relationship with her son, Leo, is fraught.

AQ: It's not so true in my first novel, Object Lessons, which is more of a young person's novel. But then once you get to One True Thing, it clearly takes hold, this dual theme of motherhood and loss. I think it was something I had to explore until I felt like I'd explored it to its fullest. And if you look at my novels, Every Last One, the most recent one, is about as far as I could go in exploring that, which is why the new one doesn't need to be about motherhood as much.

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