That's what life is about, at the bottom of things, she thought: women keeping babies.
In 1917, while the world is at war, Alma and her children are living in a sleep-out at the back of Mrs Lovett's house in working-class Footscray. When Alma falls pregnant, her daughter Molly is born in secret. As Molly grows up, there is a man who sometimes follows her on her way to school.
Anna meets Neil in 1952 at her parents' shack at Cockatoo. She later enters a Salvation Army home for unmarried mothers, but is determined to keep her baby.
Fitzroy, 1975. Student life. Things are different now, aren't they? Cathy and David are living together, determined not to get married. Against the background of the tumultuous events of the sacking of the Whitlam government, a new chapter is added to the family's story.
The Mothers is a book about secrets. It interweaves the intimate lives of three generations of Australian women who learn that it's the stories we can't tell that continue to shape us and make us who we are.