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The Good Mother

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  9,459 Ratings  ·  238 Reviews
Recently divorced, Anna Dunlap has two passionate attachments: her daughter, four-year-old Molly, and her lover, Leo, the man who makes her feel beautiful -- and sexual -- for the first time. Swept away by happiness and passion, Anna feels she has everything she's ever wanted.
Then come the shocking charges that would threaten her new love, her new "family" ... that force
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 17th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published May 1986)
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Apr 30, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
As far as characters in society go, mothers are some of the most scrutinized of all. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what makes a woman a good mother. Even the smallest of choices, such as baby-wearing vs. a stroller, can incite a firestorm.

The Good Mother explores an issue much larger in its controversy. The novel begins immediately after a divorce between a mother, Anna, and her husband Brian. Anna is awarded custody of their daughter Molly, with generous visitation rights for Brian. As A
Jan 31, 2009 William rated it liked it
in our local library there is a shelf where the librarians put books that they have read and recommend. a week or so ago "the good mother" was on the rack. so i picked it up. i had read one other of miller's books, "private lives", and liked it. from a review of her most recent book i knew that this one was probably her best -- imagine having your first novel be very well reviewed and never writing another that was as highly regarded. that would feel weird.

after reading this novel i can see why
Jun 19, 2010 Erin rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I was physically accosted by an unfamiliar woman when I was checking this book out in the library. She was quite literally shaking with anticipation for me to read, love, and devour this book. It was by far her most absolute, favorite-of-all-time book!! I know how it feels to love a book so much that you just want to share your joy and have others love it just as much. So I was eager to crack it open when I got home to dive into all the promised goodness.

Well, let me say that it's not the worst
Oct 02, 2009 Kim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books, women-lit
Occasionally when looking up the prices for these reviews I write, I have a quick look at what has been said previously about the book. I have found, on the odd occasion, that another review has made me consider something I had not previously even been aware of the existence of. The reviews never alter what I think about the book, but may add to it.

Not in this instance though. The cover of the book poses a question about whether she should chose her lover or her daughter when she is being…..the
Sep 02, 2011 Judy rated it liked it
If you really want to enjoy this book start half-way through it. Seriously. The beginning is depressing and very slow paced. As I slogged my way through the book I contemplated giving up on it. Once I hit the halfway point, all of a sudden, the real story began. It became an instant page turner. I couldn't wait to keep reading. I don't know why her editor didn't think of chopping the book down. It likely would have sold a lot more copies.
The story is about a mother who gets divorced and retains
Joy H.
Added 2/14/11. I finished reading this book in September 2011.

As I got into the plot, I found parts of this story very compelling. I never thought I'd enjoy reading a book about a child-custody battle between a husband and wife, but Sue Miller has presented the story in such a way that you gradually get drawn in. That seems to be the nature of all of her books that I've read so far. She slowly draws you in. The ending is very sobering.
Nov 07, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
Miller pulled off something difficult here, making Anna a sympathetic character in spite of her careless behavior. A thought-provoking book.
May 11, 2009 Barbara rated it did not like it
The first half of the book kept me wondering if there was even a plot. When I figured out where the story was going, I no longer cared enough to finish it.
May 09, 2008 Esther rated it it was ok
first read this when I was about 13, and it made quite an ..cough cough...impression with the whole sex/relationships theme. I thought it was brilliant, in that way you do at that pretentious age when you read something meant for readers older than you. Came across a dusty copy in a secondhand store recently and so I'm curious to re-read as a cynical thirtysomething old bag. Wondering if its really just a steaming pile of chick-lit with literary aspirations. We'll see....
Finished this today and
Sep 15, 2008 Kellie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2006-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly Konrad
Boo. I thought I would really like another Sue Miller novel after "The Senator's Wife," but the main character in this book is so unbelievably narcissistic, I just can't find anything remotely redeeming in her. I don't have a problem with Anna Dunlap leaving her husband - I do have a problem with the totally reckless behavior that followed, and I can't force sympathy for someone who would sleep with a guy AFTER he had been accused of something so wildly inappropriate. I thought about what it wou ...more
Nov 04, 2010 Nmyers rated it it was ok
The Good Mother was a disappointment for me in several ways. The biggest disappointment was the fact that Anna never was taught by her own family or learned it herself, that "you don't have to let boys touch you or have sex with you that are mean to you and that you have a choice." You find Anna doing this in high school, in her marriage, and in her relationships after Leo. In fact, you read about her doing this when there is an upcoming court case to determine custody for her daughter. I find t ...more
Jun 17, 2009 Lise rated it did not like it
This was a highly rated book in all the reviews I'd read. It was the first of several Sue Miller novels I intended to read. I chose The Good Mother for all of the possibilities this subject presented. For me, it was terribly written. Not one main character was to my liking and the clinical, flat tone of the writing made it tough for me to even finish. I'd like to see this topic tackled by an author I like. It could have been a really good book.
Oct 13, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
3.5. The writing is fantastic but the story was meh
Oct 14, 2012 Neena rated it really liked it
The one thing I've noticed about Sue Miller's books is that she's master at writing the perfect ending. There are books that seem 4 or 5 star while reading but would end up as 3 or 4 finally. Sue Miller's writing is totally opposite. Her characters make me mad while reading but in the end she justifies everything so beautifully that you end up giving one extra star always. The Good Mother was no exception. When I started the book, Anna's character started irritating me. The incident where she le ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Paperback Swap
Recently divorced, Anna Dunlop has two passionate attachments: Molly, her four-year-old daughter, and her lover, Leo, the man who has made her feel beautiful - and sexual - for the first time in a long, long time. Swept away by happiness and passion, Anna feels that she has everything she needs in her life. Almost blind to certain changes around her, Anna will soon find that these shocking changes will threaten her new love, her new "family" and will eventually force her to prove she is a good m ...more
Apr 02, 2014 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the book then watched a DVD based on the book. Surprisingly, the movie pretty much followed the story line in an abbreviated version. Some scenes were directly from the book into the movie.

Now, what do I think of the book. Was Anna a good mother to Molly? What does it mean to be a good mother? Will a good mother leave her child with a strange man? I know that when my baby daughter was in a home daycare and I arrived after work to find her alone with a strange man I NEVER brought her back
Kara Hansen
May 24, 2014 Kara Hansen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found a very ragged and quite possibly well-read copy of this book in a "book exchange bin". The only reason I picked it up was because I had previously read "While I was Gone", by Sue Miller, and quite enjoyed the book. The Good Mother did not disappoint. I found parts of it riveting, parts of it frustrating, and so much of the story line a bit of a shock. Sue Miller writes so vividly~ capturing exact moments, feelings and actions of her characters in such a real way. The Good Mother really e ...more
Dec 23, 2009 Victoria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one!
Shelves: lit-fic, awful, sold, family
I didn't particularly like this one. I read it because it was mentioned on the cover of Harvesting the Heart, though I have two other books by this author that made no impression on me (to be honest, I think it was by mistake that I even had more than other one). On the surface, I can see why this can be seen as similar to Jodi Picoult's work - the family drama, the court case... but the characters (other than the little girl), were not very real or endearing. And while the ending was in depth - ...more
Oct 22, 2008 Jill rated it it was ok
If I could give this book 2 1/2 stars I would, because there were moments when I enjoyed it (most notably the courtroom scenes). What bothered me the most, though, was the narrator and main character, Anna. I thought she was extremely selfish in the first half of the book (seriously, who brings their young daughter into bed while having sex?!?), and any mention of her daughter seemed almost gratuitous. I began to sympathize with her in the second part of the book and thought that her feelings ab ...more
Judith Shadford
Oct 18, 2011 Judith Shadford rated it it was ok
Beautifully written. The mother in question wasn't, good...that is. The novel was written before we had articulated magical thinking. If that's the subject, then it's a brilliant treatise on magical thinking. If Miller is saying the freedom limiting context of the larger family, grandfather particularly, is the only safe way to raise a child...she might have pulled that off. But Anna, her protagonist, stumbles through her life, unsatisfied except for the critical fling with Leo, because she can' ...more
Jan 28, 2009 Leigh rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
Good writing but it's hard to be sympathetic to the main character. She leaves her husband to find herself and becomes involved in a passionate affair with an artist. Her husband sues for custody and he wins on the grounds that her new found sexuality makes her a poor mother. I loved the writing but the "I gotta find myself and discover sexual passion, even if it damages my child" makes the character hard to like.
Feb 19, 2017 Barbara rated it liked it
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The author writes with eloquence and understanding, exploring the feelings of a newly divorced mother who is discovering her most intimate self. Anna Dunlop has amicably broken from her husband, and has primary custody of their four-year-old daughter, Molly. They settle into an apartment in Cambridge, and she works two part-time jobs to pay the rent: as a piano teacher, and a lab assistant. Brian, her ex, contributes generously to their comfort.

Sifting through her p
Kerrie (Layton) Box
Feb 10, 2017 Kerrie (Layton) Box rated it really liked it
This took a bit to get into, but once i did i could see the story in my mind as i read. It invoked feelings and images with her writting, i found it hard to put down once i was half way through.
Feb 05, 2017 Emily rated it really liked it
I can't remember when, but I read this from the library years ago. I remember really enjoying it at the time.
Jan 16, 2017 Amy rated it it was amazing
this book reminds me how different we all are. One mans truth is another's fiction. Singular acts can be interpreted in so many ways.
Ali LaFleur
Jan 12, 2017 Ali LaFleur rated it it was amazing
Eileen Stone-Kornberg
Dec 11, 2016 Eileen Stone-Kornberg rated it really liked it
Enjoyable. Recommended!!
Stephanie Golden
Oct 25, 2016 Stephanie Golden rated it it was ok
Did not like the message that the heroine had no life outside of being a mother.
Karen Bean
Jan 17, 2017 Karen Bean rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Sue Miller (born November 29, 1943 in Chicago) is an American writer who has authored a number of best-selling novels. Her duties as a single mother left her with little time to write for many years, and as a result she did not publish her first novel until 1986, after spend
More about Sue Miller...

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