Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Bad Mother” as Want to Read:
The Bad Mother
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Bad Mother

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Translated from the award-winning French novel La mauvaise mère, prolific author Marguerite Andersen fictionalizes the important moments of her life resulting in this unflinching account of her relationship with her three children and her years spent following her caprices and lovers, trying to regain the agency she lost when she became a mother.

Born in Germany, Mar
Paperback, 216 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Second Story Press (first published November 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Bad Mother, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Bad Mother

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  58 ratings  ·  17 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
4+ stars. I knew nothing about The Bad Mother when I started reading it other than I had seen an enthusiastic review earlier on Goodreads that made it sound intriguing. I’m glad I followed the lead because I loved this tiny book. I’m not sure I can do it justice or describe why I liked it so much, but here goes. The Bad Mother is a very sparse fictionalized memoir. Today, Marguerite Anderson is 89 years old. She was born in Berlin and lived through WWII, after which she moved to Tunisia with her ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved this, devoured it.

"I laugh it off. I like it when my sons revolt."

If she's a bad mother, we'd all do well to have one! I adored the writing and every character within. Herein lies the struggles of trying to be the right kind of mother and the hunger to remain a person of one's own too. I don't feel it's always easy for a mother to describe the hungers that still exist, as if once a you become a mother you are dead from the neck down. It is insight into how a mother's every mov
Ivonne Rovira
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: especially guilt-ridden moms everywhere
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
Nominated for the Prix des lecteurs de Radio-Canada in its original French, Marguerite Andersen has penned a poignant semiautobiographical novel in free verse about the endless guilt and the difficult choices that beset most mothers.

Born in Germany, Andersen embarks on a peripatetic life where — like most mothers — she has to weigh her children’s needs and desires against her own. She follows her French lover from England to Tunisia before fleeing to Canada to escape this controlling, violent m
Barbara Rohde
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written in spare prose bordering on poetry, this autobiographical work explores the meaning of motherhood and all its contradictions. Marguerite is fearless in exposing her flawed self that is almost shocking in its stark delivery. While it's a short book, Andersen doesn't waste a word managing to evoke the most vivid portrayal of a mother's relationship with her children throughout their lives.
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Thanks to goodreads and Second Story Press for a free copy of this book.
The Bad Mother is Marguerite Anderson's honest and unflinching account of her life as a mother. She begins and ends her story in the present at 89 years of age, acknowledging that she was a bad mother and apologizing to her children. I found the beginning particularly touching as her children try to convince her that she wasn't in fact a bad mother at all.
She uses words sparingly but with great effect, conveying emoti
Erika Nerdypants
I was hooked when I saw the title. No phrase in the English language is more loaded than "good mother" Anderson, in thinly disguised fiction unflinchingly takes a look at her mothering and does not avert her gaze. What does it mean to be a "good mother", and what sacrifices can reasonably be expected from a person in the pursuit of motherhood? This book snuck up on me. By about the middle I found myself weeping. Anderson puts it all on the line with gut wrenching honesty, clothed in the finery o ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This very short but very powerful memoir is a work that any mother will be able to relate to. It’s a reflective and confessional autobiographical meditation on the author’s time as a mother, the decisions and choices she made, the mistakes, the eternal conflict between her own selfhood and the demands of her children. I found it compulsive reading. Lyrically written, it’s not a conventional memoir by any means but an interior monologue on what it’s like to be a mother, a good one or a bad one, o ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
One I'll read again over the years.

This translation is in blank verse, which allows Andersen's story to evocatively unfurl at a rapid pace. "Bad mother" is the label she applies to herself, but the story she tells is more nuanced without becoming an apologia. Rarely, the voices of her children peek through, softening and providing insight into the outcome of her mothering decisions.
Jennifer G
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was a bit sad, but interesting. It felt like it was written in the style of one big, long poem. Although I am not a fan of poetry, I liked the book.
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I read this for the 2019 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, prompt: translated work by or translated by a woman.

This edged towards 4/5 for me. The formatting is not your typical novel. Instead, Andersen uses an almost poetic format which, at times, is a brilliant literary device to direct emphasis, although sometimes I thought it broke up a single thought and made things jumpy.

The themes of this book (motherhood, societal expectations of women, overcoming adversity, family
Enid Wray
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read this book, if for nothing other than the style... I thoroughly enjoyed the 'poetic' prose. It kept things moving along at a brisk pace, and distilled the story down to the bare bones, providing the reader with lots of scope to consider the impact of what was being read without distraction.
Read it also for the bravery - both then and now.
Then, to put self before family, to know - fundamentally and deeply within oneself - that you cannot be a 'good' mother unless you are also true to y
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed the unbound style in which this was written. I might have given it five stars if not for the annoying recurrence of "I could never have imagined that [insert obvious probable outcome] would happen." She's a smart woman, and these lapses seem disingenuous. It was as if she were undermining her own goal of coming clean about her "bad" motherhood.
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, read-for-ssp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in french. It was a really quick reading. The author gives details about her life but not too much at the same time. Maybe this the reason I appreciate this book.

She describe the mistake that she made with her 3 kids, more precisely her 2 son's.

He can push you to think what type of mother you are with your kids and mistakes that you had, have and will make.

The way that the book is written is different than other book. A chapter will be one page.

Penny (Literary Hoarders)
3.5 stars I quite enjoyed this very different read - much of it is written in verse - and is the author's fictionalized account of her life. Each chapter is short and questions and self-confronts her suitability of being a good mother / or bad mother. Her need for her self, her own independence overshadows the proper and societal expectations of motherhood.
Oct 10, 2016 rated it did not like it
Spoiler alert....she was a bad mother.
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, memoir
I went to insane lengths to get this because I loved the sound of it and love books that demythologise motherhood. Quick read, fairly good but my expectations were too lofty!
rated it really liked it
Sep 28, 2017
rated it really liked it
Jan 18, 2016
Jim Soame
rated it liked it
Feb 25, 2018
Ève Gilroy
rated it liked it
Oct 19, 2017
Robin Remic
rated it liked it
Aug 06, 2018
rated it liked it
Nov 22, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jun 17, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jan 18, 2016
rated it liked it
Jun 25, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Sep 03, 2016
Lauren Davis
rated it really liked it
Mar 28, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Oct 08, 2019
rated it liked it
Apr 13, 2017
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • This Is Not For You
  • Albertine en cinq temps
  • Kalyana
  • Small Change
  • Go Home Lake
  • Lucky in the Corner
  • Fifty Days of Solitude
  • Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West
  • Delivering Doctor Amelia: The Story of a Gifted Young Obstetrician's Error and the Psychologist Who Helped Her
  • Nocturne: On the Life and Death of My Brother
  • Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose, 1983-2005
  • Scribbling Women
  • Polyamory in the 21st Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners
  • You Went Away: A Novella
  • In Gratitude
  • None to Accompany Me
  • 44 Hours or Strike!
  • Dropped Threads: What We Aren't Told
See similar books…
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »