Lists, Miscellanea, Reviews

Mommie Dearest: The Modern Guide To Fiction’s Worst Moms (A Top Ten List)

In honor of mother’s day, I have no doubt you will see many warm and fuzzy mom moments floating around the interwebs. This list is dedicated to the other mothers – the cold, calculating, and vindictive sort that make fiction so much more interesting. This list should start off with Joan Crawford, sadly, she was real…

Should you ever feel bad about your failings as a parent, just read this list. I am sure you are doing a stellar job.

Mommy with an axe

So who is the best of the bad mothers? In no particular order:

10. Helene McCready in Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane. Who would think that kidnapping could be a blessing?

9. Zinnia Wormwood in Matilda by Roald Dahl. Zinnia’s bad, but Ms. Trunchbull was scarier.

8. Norma Bates in Psycho by Robert Bloch. Though Norman’s no prize, his mother made him that way…

7. Corinne in Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. It’s a tossup between Corinne and Olivia. What’s worse: abandonment or abuse?

6. Sophie Portnoy in Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth. This remains one of the funnier books I’ve read, though I didn’t find it shocking (which I imagine has to do with the fact that I born significantly after this novel was published).

5. Charlotte Haze in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.  It’s the perennial question ‘How can you not know?’…

4. Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She’s not bad in the way Margaret or Helene is bad, she is just wholly too much.

3. Eleanor Shaw Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon. I’m not sure that she had her son’s best interests at heart.

2. Ingrid Magnusson in White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Some people should never be parents.

1. Margaret White in Carrie by Stephen King. She’s one scary Christian fundamentalist.

Honorable mention goes to Scarlett O’Hara. A few more fictional, but non-literary bad mothers: Mama Peacock in the X-Files, Mystique from X-Men, and Peg Bundy from Married with Children. Who’s you favorite bad mother? And don’t forget to wish your mother a happy mother’s day.

Painting by Kelly Reemsten via Pinterest

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  • Bonnie (@missbonnie13)

    hahaha YES. Margaret White was one crazy lady. When I think of bad mothers though, Medea immediately popped into my head. But seriously, Charlotte Haze.. how delusional could you be?

    • Rory

      Apparently, very. Medea popped into my head too, but I feel like she always makes the bad mom list (rightly so) – I tried to switch it up a little…

  • Megan

    The mom from A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer.. but that is nonfiction.

    • Rory

      It amazing how many truly awful mothers there are in real life – Casey Anthony, Joan Crawford, Deanna Laney, etc.

  • Angie

    Norma Bates is bad.. have you been watching Bates motel?
    I really like that show!
    Angela’s Anxious Life

    • Rory

      No, no cable! I might check it out when it becomes available on Netflix.

  • Charleen

    I’ve actually not read any of these (P&P in high school doesn’t count if I can’t remember it). #1 is definitely on my TBR though.

    • Rory

      I think you’d like Carrie and Gone, Baby, Gone (Dennis Lehane is almost always good). The Manchurian Candidate is also good, though possibly plagiarized…

  • booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    Corinne stands out for me. An absolute nut. I wrote a blog post for my kids primary school last week and managed to get a reference to Flowers in the Attic in (for all of the parents who, like me, read it in the 80s). Of course it was totally inappropriate. Surprised it wasn’t edited out.

    • Rory

      It’s a blog post, it needs a little bit of fun. Just watch half the animated movies out now, they are only kid appropriate on the most superficial of levels…

  • nerdybookgirl

    Great list! I’ll have to add Voldermort’s ma to the list!

    • Rory

      Can’t argue with that!

  • picturemereading

    LOL Love this list…no wire hangers EVER!!! ;>

    • Rory

      I almost choose minimalist image with a wire hanger for this list, then I worried people wouldn’t get it! Glad you know you would’ve known. 🙂

      • picturemereading

        I love the Mom with the ax painting though! Who is it by?

        • Rory

          I have no idea, I found it on Pinterest but I could not find the original source (I linked to the pin at the bottom).

        • Rory

          After a little digging – Kelly Reemsten.

  • Lianne @

    Great list! I totally agree with what you said about Ingrid from White Oleander and Mrs. Bennett (not bad, but exactly what you said, too much xP)

    • Rory

      I can’t imagine having having Mrs. Bennett as a mother, I hesitate to go out in public…

  • Kelly

    This list is hilarious (and accurate!!). I love Margaret White as #1. How true is THAT.

  • Ginger Cook

    Can you tell me who’s image this is at the top of the page? Mommy with an axe?

    • Rory

      The link to the artist should be at the bottom of the post. Her name is escaping me at the moment, but I will look it up when I get home.

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