The Mothers

by Rod Jones

In 1917, while the world is at war, Alma and her children are living in a sleep-out at the back of Mrs Lovett’s house in working-class Footscray. When Alma falls pregnant, her daughter Molly is born in secret. As Molly grows up, there is a man who sometimes follows her on her way to school.

Anna meets Neil in 1952 at her parents’ shack at Cockatoo. She later enters a Salvation Army home for unmarried mothers, but is determined to keep her baby.

Fitzroy, 1975. Student life. Things are different now, aren’t they? Cathy and David are living together, determined not to get married. Against the background of the tumultuous events of the sacking of the Whitlam government, a new chapter is added to the family’s story.

The Mothers
is a book about secrets. It interweaves the intimate lives of three generations of Australian women who learn that it’s the stories we can’t tell that continue to shape us and make us who we are.

Rod Jones’s first novel, Julia Paradise (1986), won the fiction award at the 1988 Adelaide Festival, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and was runner-up for the Prix Femina Étranger. It has been translated into ten languages and is now available as a Text Classic. His four other novels, Prince of the Lilies, Billy Sunday, Nightpictures, and Swan Bay, have all either won or been shortlisted for major literary awards.

Rod Jones lives near Melbourne. The Mothers is his most recent novel.

‘Rod Jones’ The Mothers is beautifully written and deeply poignant. One of the most satisfying Australian novels I’ve read in years.’ Alex Miller

‘I was captivated by the humanity and heart of the characters. Rod Jones has created a vivid and compelling world and I cared about everyone in it.’ Toni Jordan

‘With depth and insight, Jones explores maternal-filial love.’ Books & Publishing

‘Quietly moving…If you like Colm Toíbín’s work, I’m sure you will love this book. The Mothers is a terrific achievement for Jones.’ Readings

‘This is a big-hearted novel, and it is an affecting tribute to generations of Australian mothers who have been unjustly treated.’ Saturday Paper

‘[The Mothers] gives us a rich panoply of characters, places, and issues. The overall effect is rather like that of looking through a box of faded photographs, turning each one in the light, hearing something of their story, bringing lost faces and eras to life.’ Australian Book Review

‘Big-hearted…an ambitious work, combining social history set in Melbourne suburbs not yet gentrified, with personal stories of birth, shame and identity.’ Booktopia Buzz

‘Jones has done something unexpected. He has uncovered a magnanimity and generosity of spirit that has not been seen in his novels before now…It has more depth and a weight that feels far more like the authentic quick of life.’ Age/SMH/Brisbane Times

‘You will feel this novel in the depths of your being…Jones does not hold back from portraying the suffering and loneliness of these poor women on whom society turned its collective back. It’s an eye-opener for those of us fortunate enough to be born post-1970.’ Good Reading

‘A social history that interrogates motherhood and mothering in a way that I haven’t come across before.’ ANZ LitLovers

‘[Jones] writes with depth and understanding of the joys and angst of taking the plunge into motherhood…It is sad and heart-wrenching at times. Yet, it is beautifully written and while the angst felt for the characters is all to real, their stories are masterfully told.’ Weekly Times