Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 148

With the four novels and many stories that preceded A Mother and Two Daughters , Gail Godwin had already won critical acclaim. The publication of her fifth novel gave her a best-seller. Godwin regards the novel as an artistic “turning point” for her as well, for in it she explored...

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With the four novels and many stories that preceded A Mother and Two Daughters, Gail Godwin had already won critical acclaim. The publication of her fifth novel gave her a best-seller. Godwin regards the novel as an artistic “turning point” for her as well, for in it she explored the consciousnesses of three characters instead of one and created a portrait of a whole society rather than of a single person.

Like the fiction of Anne Tyler and Margaret Drabble, A Mother and Two Daughters concerns itself with the evolution of the family in modern society and the roles it may play in the lives of modern women. Like most major women novelists from Jane Austen onward, Godwin considers how her heroines can best find or create places for themselves in a society over which they have negligible control but in which they can achieve some small influence.

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