I find this hard to believe. Without counting her entire database of evidence Emily St. John Mandel found 530 books with a title in the form The . . .’s Daughter. She claims to have been only 88/220ths of the way through her records when she stopped counting, which would mean that the total (assuming a constant ratio, which of course there’s no reason to assume) would be 1,325 such titles out there. 530 seems enough to me too.
The Millions post which discloses this repetitive state of affairs dates from 2012, so who knows what may have happened since then. Strangely I cannot recall ever seeing or reading a book with a title in this pattern, though I seem to remember a book called The Handmaid’s Daughter. I guess I may have seen that one, or at least a review of it. But of course the academic world in which most of my publishing career was spent would be unlikely to come up with titles like this.
Does the popularity of titles about daughters mean anything? Ms Mandel shows that about three quarters of them were written by female authors: fairly obviously lady authors are more liable to self-identify as daughters, and “Write what you know” is a well-known rallying cry. I doubt that we’d be able to find any large number of books with titles in the form The . . .’s Son, though I don’t believe gentlemen authors are any less inclined to introspection. I suppose a title in the form The . . .’s Son does land with a bit of a thud. It’s not nearly as euphonious as The . . .’s Daughter; so rhythmically Daughter‘s almost certainly a better title. As a title Son of . . . is clearly superior, while Daughter of . . . doesn’t really work as well. Probably we can conclude nothing from this — beyond, Germanic languages are like that.
I wonder if there more novels overall with female protagonists than male? Of course most stories do, especially if they are romances, tend to need both sorts, but is the narrator more often female than male? I rather doubt it — certainly my own recent reading shows a rather balanced narrator-gender-ratio — but research is clearly urgently required.