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The Mother of All Loves by Lizzie O’Hagan, author of The Visa

The Mother of All Loves

Lizzie O’Hagan


My mum loves reading my books – though she’s more than once expressed her discomfort at reading some of the scenes within them, unable to stop herself questioning which parts are fact and which are fiction. I imagine nothing prompts this feeling more than the mention of mums.


It goes without saying that behind every character is a mother – whether they’re physically on the page or not. Mothers shape who we are. Their presence affects us. Perhaps, their absence even more so. And I’ve tried my best to explore both things through the mothers in The Visa.


When we first meet Jack, we suspect he is running away from something. What we’re less clear on is who. Though I’d hate to give away any spoilers, Jack’s relationship with his mum is complicated when we first meet him. Not only are they physically thousands of miles apart, with Jack willing to go to extremes to keep it that way (and what’s more extreme than marrying a woman you barely know?), but they are also emotionally separated by what has happened in the past, which acts as a barrier between them until they seemingly give up trying to bridge it all together. Jack’s journey is one of learning to receive the loving forgiveness of his mother. Maya’s, on the other hand, is one of learning to give the same loving forgiveness to her mum.


Though Maya’s mum is closer to home, emotionally she’s thousands of miles away. At first sight she appears as a cold, distracted workaholic who cares more about career milestones than matters of the heart. And in Maya’s case, the strong, ambitious apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But as the story unfolds, we learn more about what’s going on below the surface with Maya learning to forgive her mum for the very thing she needs to forgive herself for: being human.


One of the best things to come out of the pandemic for me was the chance to spend six months living with my parents. Though we’ve always been close, this was a time when I realised afresh that my parents – though family – are also some of my best friends. Best friends may still be a stretch for Maya and Jack with their parents. But the story teaches them both about making friends with the family you were given, and by the end of the book we see a shift in both relationships – from childish entitlement to learning that their parents are humans too, ones that are messy and flawed but will continue to love them as best as they know how.


So, Happy Mother’s Day to all the motherly figures in our lives (and Mum, all the good parts are you).