Traveling with Pomegranates isn't a travel book. It isn't the story of a mother and daughter. It's not an analysis of the changes in a woman's life, or the search for the strength and divinity in ourselves. Instead, authors Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor have combined all of those elements in a book that spans ten years.
In 1998, when Sue Monk Kidd took her daughter, Ann, to Greece, both women were going through major transitions in life. Sue, turning fifty, felt as if she was losing her daughter to adulthood, and losing herself to old age. She had already moved from her home of twenty-two years to Charleston. She combined the trip as a birthday gift to herself and a graduation gift to Ann. This was Sue's pilgrimage, an odyssey at the approach of fifty, a way to acknowledge changes in her life, and her relationship with her daughter and her own mother. Ann, a shy introvert, had been rejected by her chosen grad school. This was her first trip back after an extraordinary journey that woke her interest in Greece. Now, she was depressed, unsure of herself, and felt rejected. She saw her mother as a strong woman who followed her own heart.
This first trip together to Greece was a turning point. Sue was the one who saw the comparison to Demeter and Persephone, "the intersection of mothers and daughters," forced to part ways. While Ann had taken Athena as an icon on her earlier trip, Sue was entranced with the story of Demeter, and fascinated with Mary, particularly in the form of the Black Madonna. Their later trips together, to France, and back to Greece, brought all of the icons together for the two women. They also brought their own fears and goals into focus.
Anyone who read Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees will be fascinated by her chronicle of her evolving interest in bees, the image of Mary, and the writing of that book. The travels of this mother and daughter brought both of them to writing. Sue finally wrote the novels she wanted to write. Ann found her goal in life. Traveling with Pomegranates bogs down at times with too much introspection about Mary and the divinity in women, but, even so, it's a fascinating story of the evolution of two women, in their lives, and their relationship with each other, and their dreams for the future.
Sue Monk Kidd's website is www.suemonkkidd.com
Ann Kidd Taylor's website is www.annkiddtaylor.com
Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. Viking, ©2009. ISBN 9780670012108 (hardcover), 285p.
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