Living and writing about mothers and daughters

May 26, 2022 | 4 comments |

Before English Rose was born, I didn’t know whether I was having a boy or a girl.

While I’d have loved a son as much as a daughter, part of me was relieved when the doctor announced the baby was a girl. As an only child with four girl cousins, I knew little about boys.

Yet, nothing in that feminine-centric youth prepared me for the wonderful but messy complexity of raising a daughter or the ‘mum’ part of the mother-daughter bond.

My daughter but not myself

From the start, English Rose and I were very different.

In many ways, particularly in terms of learning style, interests and personality traits, she’s more like my late mother than me.

Yet, my daughter is also her own person and I celebrate all of who she is, a great blessing in my life.

Ups and downs

Just as my relationship with my mother wasn’t without challenges, so too has my relationship with my own daughter had ups and downs.

Now I’m learning how to mother an adult daughter and navigating this new stage in our relationship. Beyond the turbulence of adolescence, it’s one where I hope I can be both mum and friend.

Mothers and daughters in my writing

As I explore mother-daughter relationships in fiction, my writing mirrors my life where matrilineal bonds have been singularly important.

From my Firefly Lake and Wishing Tree contemporary romances through to my Montana-set western romances and women’s fiction like The Sweetheart Locket, it’s not surprising that mothers, daughters and grandmothers take primary or secondary roles.

Reading about mothers and daughters

As a reader, I also gravitate to stories about mother-daughter relationships and have two stellar recommendations.

The Hourglass by Tracy Rees is a beautifully written dual-time story set in Tenby, Wales between the 1950s and 2015.

This moving novel about a mother, daughter and grandmother reminded me it’s never too late to change ourselves and our lives.

Among its many poignant messages is this one: “No matter how old you were, nothing was quite as comforting as being mothered.”

Find out more about Tracy and The Hourglass on Goodreads (at time of writing, the book is on sale on Amazon Kindle for 0.99 cents in the US & Canada, £1.99 in the UK) and connect with her on Twitter.

My second recommendation is another dual-time story, Anita Kushwaha’s Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters. Set in Ottawa, Canada, this lyrical and emotional inter-generational novel showcases family relationships alongside immigrant experiences. When I chatted with Anita about the book, she said:

“[It’s about] the ties that bind mothers and daughters together, and the secrets that tear them apart. I’m fascinated by the complexity of mother-daughter relationships…why we place such high expectations on each other and the cost of those expectations.”

Find out more about Anita and Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters on her website and read my interview with her here.

And finally, a friendly reminder that for a few more days the eBook of my mother, daughter and grandmother story, The Sweetheart Locket, is on sale in the US, Canada and UK for only 0.99 cents/pence at Amazon & many other vendors.

Reviewers have called it “one of my favorite reads this year” and “a wonderful dual timeline book with so much heart and courage.”

Get or gift a copy here


  1. Heidi Vanstone

    Parenting is such a challenging but rewarding journey, isn’t it? Whether raising a son or daughter (or some combination thereof), there will always be unexpected situations and “surprises”. And yet, it is the most richly complex and rewarding experience of my adult life. I marvel at how unique our children are, and wouldn’t want it any other way. Besides, the unpredictability of young adulthood keeps me “hopping” and (hopefully) embracing a growth mind-set.

    • Jen Gilroy

      ‘Challenging’ and ‘rewarding’ is such an apt description of parenthood, Heidi. Thanks for reading my blog and sharing your thoughts about this ‘journey.’ And yes, ‘a growth mind-set’ is key for us, as well as our children. 🙂

  2. Anita Kushwaha

    What a beautiful and honest post. I am in the early stages of my motherhood journey, it really is the hardest, greatest thing I will ever do. One of my mom goals is to be the person my daughter knows she can come to for anything, unlike the characters in Secret Lives. Thank you so much for recommending my book! Reading your work is always a treat for me. xo

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Anita. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Motherhood is such a journey and one that will continue for the rest of my life…along with the learning each new stage of motherhood brings.

      I’m happy to recommend your wonderful book and it makes me happy that you like my work too. xo


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