I hadn’t intended on reading Tough Mothers on Mother’s Day, but that’s what happened. I’m glad I did.
Jason Porath is the creator of the website Rejected Princesses, a blog that celebrates “women of history and myth who were too awesome, awful, or offbeat for the animated princess treatment”. His posts, and illustrations, of all types of women from all over the world and all over time are delightful. He works hard at accuracy, diversity, and cultural sensitivity. When he makes mistakes, he posts an award, the Noble Order of Glaukopis, to the person who points it out, stating that they are, in perpetuity, smarter than he is. He also post about “Modern Worthies”, notable women from living memory.
Tough Mothers is Porath’s second book and it is much like his first one, titled unsurprisingly Rejected Princesses. It is much like the first book, a series of entries about a collection of women. All of the entries in this book are mothers, if not always biological ones, and that role is important to their story. Some of the entries are cleaned-up versions of entries from the blog, but more are original.
Although Porath does research all of the entries, Tough Mothers isn’t the place to end research; it is a good place to start, because he does give a full bibliography of his research. His writing style is light, humorous, and a little sarcastic towards the prejudice and misogyny his subjects experienced. He also notes when the sources are confusing, contradictory, or likely exaggerated.
All in all, an enjoyable way to spend part of my Mother’s Day.
Porath, Jason. Tough Mothers: Amazing Stories of History’s Mightiest Matriarchs. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 2018. Amazon.