My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book source: Public library
Sue Monk Taylor, bestselling author of The Secret Lives of Bees, and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor prove in their joint memoir, Traveling with Pomegranates, that the eternal question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” never fades away, even at the ages of twentysomething and fiftysomething.
We follow this pair, in alternating journal-like entries, as they travel to sacred sites in Greece and France. They take us to convents, antiquities, ruins, relics, and their home in South Carolina. We learn of their intimate thoughts on faith, life and future. They even give us a crash, refresher course in Greek mythology, intimately reliving the story of Demeter and Persephone, and using it as a metaphor throughout their journey.
For those who have read The Secret Lives of Bees, this book really is a work study for that novel. Sue devotes much of her narrative to how she became entranced with the icon of The Black Madonna, and how that theme was woven into her book. She also shares her struggles with aging and embracing the “older woman” that she has become, and where does life go from here.
Ann’s journey is much different: a recent college graduate with dreams of going to graduate school to study Greek history, she is demoralized when her admission is rejected. Where does her life go from here? She begins her quest, with the help of the goddess Athena, the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc, to find out that out.
I delighted in this book. It was a pleasure to read about their relationship and their travels (although, I wondered if things had been so peaceful between the two of them when Ann was a teenager!). In much the same way Eat Pray Love was a road to personal discovery, so is Traveling with Pomegranates. And as polarizing as that book was, I could see where if you didn’t like it, you might not enjoy this either. I, however, enjoyed both immensely. I think I would have loved this book even more if it had been illustrated. They visit so many historical places, it would have been nice to have an immediate visual associated with the passages.
This is a beautiful mother-daughter story – one told with emotion and tenderness. As a mother of a daughter, I can only think of how much I want my relationship with my daughter to mirror theirs.
For an amazing insight into their relationship and their work on this book, please check out the video from the Library of Congress' 2009 National Book Festival:
Daisy Mom is a mother of 3; wife of 1; daughter, sister, friend, aunt; lover of football, politics, food, travel, walking, theatre and all things literary.