The risk in this kind of writing is that it leaves the reader unmoved; the reward is that it can more closely mirror daily life, which plays out without a string section or a set of filters to indicate or intensify the mood. All concern the same woman, Eva, glimpsed at different stages of a life deeply marked by her relationship with her own mother. When, in the final story, she becomes a mother herself, we are left to speculate about the subsequent effects on her own daughter, and the manner in which loss and damage are often handed down the generations.
This is by no means new material for writers of fiction, but what Power does with it is subtly different, for so much is left unsaid that the result is a deliberately frustrating gap in interpretation.
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Deliberate because again, this is like life, in which our knowledge of other people — even our mothers — is only ever partial. Another theme is the way in which people often fail to connect, hampered by the gulf between the inner worlds they inhabit. The way Ann tries to stifle her irritation and her complex ambivalence about sleeping with Jim is beautifully captured. Each story in Mothers does that brilliantly; but across the Eva triptych Power is undeniably concerned with the passage of time. Mothers is a uniquely unsettling and subtle debut collection; one wonders if a longer work might also be on the cards.
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