Knopf hardcover

British Edition


In her luminous new novel, Jayne Anne Phillips tells the story of Kate, whose care for her terminally ill mother coincides with the birth of her first child and the early months of a young marriage. She must, in a single year, come to terms with radiant beginnings and profound loss. MotherKind is a delicately layered narrative in which the details of daily life resonate with import and meaning.

The novel centers around Kate’s present world of first and second families, babies and lively stepchildren, neighbors and friends, baby-sitters and wise strangers. Images of her not-so-long-ago past intermingle in a turning of the seasons marked by the gradual fading of her mother, the strong woman who has been her friend, her guiding star and her counterpart across a divide of experience and years.

MotherKind presents a very contemporary situation, yet deals with timeless themes. Even as Kate’s relationship with her mother embodies her childhood and adolescence in another place, she must decide what “home” is, and how to translate all she has come from into what she will carry forward. As her baby grows and her mother becomes increasingly ill, Kate realizes how inextricably linked we are, even in separation — across generations, cultures, time; across death itsel


“Deeply felt, profoundly affecting. Her best so far,”
Publishers Weekly

The story brims with vivid details of day-to-day family life,revealed largely through dialogue,which Phillips unerringly captureswith consummate authenticity.”

“Phillips explores the intuitive bond between mothers and daughters with unforced grace.

All the characters are articulate and introspective; they ponder the human condition, yet function in the daily sphere, with dialogue so easy and true it seems inevitable. Amid the inexorable approach of death, the messy certitude and fecund abundance of human life resonate throughout this compassionate and spiritually nourishing novel”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Although we know from its first page that the protagonist’s mother is dying of cancer, Jayne Anne Phillips’s rich, involving novel is not a story of loss but of connection….Though her third novel may contain all the emotional ingredients of a made-for-television movie, Phillips avoids tear-jerking through the use of precisely observed details….and the absence of cliché. She has even side-stepped, at the end, the requisite death-bed scene, knowing that there is almost no way left to write about such moments without recourse to received language and images. A book for mothers and daughters–and especially for stepmothers–MotherKind uncovers the mixed sources of maternal strength in love, habit, and necessity.”
—Regina Marler, Amazon.com

“In the hands of a writer as gifted as Jayne Anne Phillips, even the most commonplace care, such as when Kate changes the baby’s diaper, becomes lyrical….[a] beautiful and moving work of fiction that celebrates the profundity of ordinary life.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR

MotherKind is a book about loss by a writer famous for her protected loneliness. It is a stunning meditation on family by a woman who pioneered a shocking rootlessness. It is a lesson in writing by an author who is known to spend days patiently beading together words, knotting them into place, securing the clasp.”
—Beth Kephart, Salon.com

“Phillips’ luminous new novel, MotherKind (Knopf), which is, in many ways, an exploration of the incongruities, the paradoxes, the mystifying jigsaw pieces that make our existence on this planet unquenchably compelling. If also heartbreaking.
— Sarah Towers, Mirabella

“This is a beautifully written book. Phillips’ poetic sensibilities are everywhere evident in her elegant prose and in the graceful ebb and flow of her sentences.”
— Nancy Goldstone, Miami Herald