She was only 41, but society relegated her to be a ‘mamma’ and nothing more.
Today, we are thrilled to be the stop on the Blog Tour for Mamma by Diana Tutton.
Mamma is a touching story of a 41 years old woman who struggled to fit the mold society expected of her in the late 50s.
Our thanks to British Library Publishing for the advanced reader’s copy.
Print Length: 256 pages
Publisher: British Library Publishing (13 May 2021)
ISBN-10 : 0712353887
The doomed mutual attraction of a middle-aged widow and her new son-in-law, who is much closer to her own age than her daughter’s, forms the central drama in this social comedy with tragic overtones.
From the Publisher’s Blurb
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Joanna (Mamma) had been a widow for two decades and was seen by society as an old, good-for-nothing woman despite being relatively young. Deep inside, she dreamed of marrying again, but men had eyes only for the fresh and young.
Things got tangled when her daughter Elizabeth married a man 15 years her senior and moved in with Joanna. Turned out that Steven, the husband, had much more in common with Mamma than with the superficial and immature Elizabeth.
Poor Joanna had to deal with the conflicted emotions of feeling attracted, or even in love, with her son-in-law, and at the same time, selflessly suppress all those feelings to protect her beloved daughter.
The forbidden love is not what the story is about, though. It is just a way of demonstrating Joanna’s limited existence and the suffocating role she was forced into by society. Mrs. Tutton dealt with the taboo with such grace and feeling that it was never cringey.
The gem in the book is the analysis of women’s role in society and the strong contrast between those who experienced the horrors of war firsthand and the post-war generation with its more privileged, untroubled upbringing. Elizabeth was carefree, innocent, and quite superficial, while Joanna and Steven were more mature and grounded.
Another interesting topic was the difference in station and opportunity between different social classes. Some of the views are obviously influenced by the author’s own perception of the world and a reflex of the book’s period (1956).
I was immediately captivated by Joanna. Being in my forties (actually a little older than sweet Mamma), I commiserated with her misfortunes and admired how she bore it all with class and fortitude. She was in an impossible situation, yet she crossed to the other side stronger and even more beautiful.
The narrative is well-woven, and the story kept me glued to the pages until the very end. All the characters were layered, and women of all walks of life and age were portrayed.
Mamma is one of those stories that stays with you long after the book is finished. I intend to read all other books by Mrs. Tutton.
If you decide to buy the book, I recommend the printed edition because it is simply stunning! The whole Women’s Writers collection is beautiful, with embossed covers and captivating stories. A must-have for all book-lovers!
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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About the Author
Diana Tutton (1915–1991) was a British novelist whose books focused on women navigating difficult relationships and family situations. Her work has been compared to that of Dodie Smith, and she is considered to be part of a group of 20th century British women writers including Ivy Compton-Burnett, Angela Thirkell, and E. M. Delafield whose work often examines the situation of middle-class women.[