Friday, November 27, 2009

Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor

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.


FTC Full Disclosure: Library book

17 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I love Sue Monk Kidd's work and have really been looking forward to this book. From the reviews I've read, I have a feeling it's not going to live up to my expectations. Great review.

brizmus said...

I'm glad to hear that you did enjoy this book, even if it gets thick at times. I've been wanting to read it, but I read a terrible review of the other day, and since then, I haven't been sure.

Lesa said...

Bermudaonion,

It isn't going to live up to your expectations, and by the end of the book, I was skimming some of the divinity stuff. Even so, it was an interesting book.

Lesa said...

Brizmus,
That's the perfect way to describe it, "a bit thick at times." I'd give it a try as a library book rather than buy it because it's not going to be the right book for quite a few readers. Skim the "thick" parts, if you're willing to skim. I did.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

It does sound like some rough slogging in parts. I might pass until I have a little more time to read. Thanks, Lesa!

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Elizabeth. Yes, I don't think it's for this time of year.

Ingrid King said...

I love Sue Monk Kidd, but this sounds a bit heavy. I'll add it to the TBR pile to read after I'm done reading all the holiday books you've recommended.

Lesa said...

That's the best time to read it, Ingrid. I know I prefer lighter books right now.

Beth Hoffman said...

Thank you for this, Lesa. I've been procrastinating on reading this book and I think I'll pass.

Lesa said...

As I said, Beth, I enjoyed parts, but I think you can pass on it. Too much really good reading out there!

Les said...

I've had my eye on this one, especially since it's currently on the 50% off table at B&N, but maybe I'll wait and get it from the library. I'm interested in the mother-daughter relationship (I'll be 50 in a couple of years and I have a twenty-something-year-old daughter), but not so much the divinity parts. Thanks for the review, Lesa.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Les. It was the mother-daughter relationship, and the travel that interested me. I would have taken more travel, and less divinity.

David Rosen said...

I loved this book and gave it to each of my three daughters. I'm also a Jungian analyst and writer,so I had no problems with this extraordinary book. I do have a fondness for Sue Monk Kidd's work and this was like all the other books of hers:"The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" (A courageous memoir,which I also gave to each of my daughters)," The Secret life of Bees" (One of the best novels I've ever read and she tells how it was written in this volume),"The Mermaid Chair" (Which I thought was superb). I also liked the writing of Ann Kidd Taylor.

Lesa said...

David,

I think that's great that Sue Monk Kidd's books are so important to you that you share them with your daughters. That's just wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I am almost finished with this book and have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying it. I had traveled in Athens with my own daughter, and while reading this section of the book, I opened that photo album and revisted many wonderful places.
This story is well written and truly is bringing out my love and devotion for Mary. Fascinating information and associations for me.
Yes, both Mom and daughter over think some of their own thoughts and dreams which probably attribute to some depression on both their parts, but the book is a wonderful read and there are many quotes from it that hold much meaning.

Anonymous said...

I really disliked this book. Sue Kidd disects so many thoughts and feelings that it's a wonder that she can get anything done! Also woner why she married, since her husband plays next-to- no part in her life.

Anonymous said...

I had a hard time getting into this book but about a third of the way through started to like it. In going through changes of my own, mother, grandmother and now, really old lady, I found that I am also looking for my new place in this life. So, I did relate to the search.