The Mother Gene

Dr. Miriam Stewart works tirelessly to help Appalachian women gain control over their bodies—to make a deliberate decision whether to be a mother. Bone-weary, but with a nagging fear of the obsolescence of retirement, Miriam is sandwiched between two frustratingly independent women; neither will listen to her advice. Her aging mother, Lillian, a locally beloved, retired mountain midwife, refuses to leave her farmhouse nestled deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Olivia, her thirty-year-old daughter, searches for the perfect sperm donor for the baby she’s determined to have.

When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity promises her work legacy will continue, Miriam’s passion is renewed. But her carefully ordered world explodes when the fulfillment of her dream collides with her mother’s long-kept secrets. Secrets that undermine the very foundation of Miriam’s beliefs about who she is, her career, and especially, what it means to mother. Miriam is faced with an impossible choice.

In The Mother Gene, Lynne Bryant casts a contemporary story of mothers and daughters against the backdrop of a not-so-distant dark time in American history, when powerful forces sought to control who should have children. Three generations of women struggle with the intertwined choices of sex, love, pregnancy, and motherhood.

The Mother Gene, winner of the Literary Titan Award

Praise for The Mother Gene

Literary Titan 5/5 Star Review

“The Mother Gene is a well-written, gripping, and intense story with well-developed characters and a strong storyline. The narrative is well-researched and well-told, and most importantly, the narration makes it impossible for the reader to not empathize with the characters and their lifestyles. …The book’s strongest point is the quiet acceptance of different choices, lives, and loves without judgment.”

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Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Last House on the Street

“Lynne Bryant has penned my favorite sort of novel: good people doing their best to negotiate the heart-rending challenges that life throws at them. In The Mother Gene, three generations of women are touched by their different experiences as they deal with the dependency of aging, uncertainty at the end of a working life, and the excitement of starting down the path to motherhood. This tender story of women helping women takes unexpected turns but never loses its heart.”

Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Perennials

“Once again, Lynne Bryant weaves an emotionally compelling story—this one diving deep into the intricacies of cross-generational relationships and the complexities of becoming a parent. Word by word, she shows us how to see one another through a more compassionate lens. In the end, readers are gifted an impactful and timely read that sticks with us long after the last page has been turned. Perfect for book clubs, this novel makes us reexamine not only what it means to be a mother, but what it means to be an open-hearted human being.”


“The ambitious cross-generational novel addresses compelling social issues such as class, health care, and women’s reproductive rights without taking a heavy-handed approach…Bryant’s empathy and understanding shines throughout…The Mother Gene employs three points of view—Miriam, Lillian, and Olivia—to good effect as it explores the theme of what it means to be a mother…The full truth about Lillian and Miriam’s past delivers an emotional punch thanks to Bryant’s perceptive, humane characterization and abiding sense of what matters most. Great for fans of Diane Chamberlain and Jodi Picoult.”