Also, two things came at me in close succession, and got me thinking. Why don't the heroes of historical romances have deep bonds with their mothers?
So, first question — am I wrong? Do you know any historical romances in which the hero has a deep bond with his mother that plays a part in the book?
Let me explain the two things that caused my pondering.
The first was an article about Dorothy Dunnett's writing, which reminded me of the emotional intensity, and the complexity of her character Lymond.You can read the article here.
The second was a reminiscence piece on the radio about World War 2 soldiers who returned to Jersey after the war. The Channel Islands were the only part of Great Britain occupied by the Nazis. Click on the link for more about that.
The elderly Jersey men talked of their emotions on sailing into the harbour of their home not knowing what to expect, and one man's voice broke as he said, "My first thought then was to see my mother." You can here the 5 minute piece here.
In the first book of Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles, The Game of Kings, Francis Crawford's mother Sybilla plays a complex part, but for most of the book they have only the briefest, and most unpleasant, encounter. Before that they've not met for about four years since he was first taken prisoner in battle in his teens and taken to England, and then framed as a traitor and on the run. (I'm not going to bother about minor spoilers. The book was published in 1961!)
In Game of Kings Lymond is creating havoc, often within his family, and only one step ahead of execution throughout. The struggles are mighty, the sufferings stupendous, the emotions violent (this is, after all, Dunnett) and the reader is often confused as to whether he's hero or villain. But by the triumphant end we're left in awe of Lymond's intellect, physical abities, and above all his self-reliance.
He says, "I have no other desires, and can imagine none."
"No?" said the Queen Dowager, and rising swept Francis Crawford out of the room…. "No other desires? Au contraire. There are some that I shall expect to find out and one, assuredly, that I know," said the queen with decision; and opened a door.
In a lifetime of empty rooms, this was another.
Then there was a whisper of silk, a perfume half-remembered, a humane, quizzical presence; and a wild relief that deluged the tired and passionate mind."
Sybilla was there. She saw her son's eyes, and flung open her arms.
So I encountered two examples of the powerful bond of warriors to their mother, one from real life and one from fiction, and they stirred the question above — why don't we have such bonds in historical romance? Remember, one is real, remembered seventy years later in a broken voice.
One thought is that in a romance the hero is bonding with the heroine, which will take priority.
I could counter (I love arguing with myself!) that it's not an either/or, any more than love of children and spouse is. I could also argue that the bond could be there at the beginning and superceded as the book progresses.
I don't find either, but I'm looking forward to learning about titles in which the bond exists.
I admit I'm not great at creating such mother-son relationships. Quite often the mother is dead, and I've created some mothers-from-hell. One good one that comes to mind is in Deirdre and Don Juan, where Everdon has a close relationship with his mother and turns to her for advice.
But I'm looking for recommendations of books in which the hero holds his mother in his heart in some iconic way, and possibly turns to her for emotional support. I'll extend it to all romantic fiction, past and present. Which ones fit the bill?
If there aren't many, why not? If this bond is real for many men and has been through the ages, why is it not represented in fiction, especially fiction in which the hero is a warrior?
Do we want to read such books?
I love the ending of Game of Kings, and it doesn't only work because at that point Lymond hasn't found his soul mate. By the end of the six book series he has, but his bond with Sybilla has not been diminished. The book ends with the couple, as it should, but a page before the end we have a crucial scene which includes Sybilla and ties up the thread of the mother/son story. That thread has not diminished the love story as far as I'm concerned.
So, any thoughts on this?
Any suggestions of books that fit my requirements?
Any real life stories of mothers and adult sons?