Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor. Reviewed by Kris Harding.
Sue Monk Kidd, who wrote the best-selling, book club favorite, The Secret Life of Bees, has now written a travel book/memoir with her daughter which also shows us the genesis of that book. In fact I feel compelled to go back to reread that book (which was hundreds of books ago) with new eyes. As you’ll see from the dates below, Kidd does not write quickly (more’s the pity for readers everywhere.) Reading Pomegranates, I came to understand that each of her pieces involves abundant research, meditation and a depth of introspection with which most of us would be uncomfortable
In 1998 she planned a trip to Greece which was simultaneously a college graduation gift to her daughter and a 50th birthday gift for herself. A year later her daughter joined a women’s tour of sacred sites in France which Kidd organized, and the pair returned to Greece in 2000. (How I envy them all this travel.) That first trip came at a critical juncture in Kidd’s life when she was struggling with an unwritten novel as well as with the “change of life.” Hot flashes, restless sleep patterns, the occasional brain fog of menopause and the in-your-face realization of aging and your own mortality are a challenge for many women, but even more so for a person used to thinking so deeply about her life. On top of that she faced the inevitable slipping away of her daughter, that time when mothers must give up that role and forge a true friendship with the women their children have become.
Ann Kidd was dealing with her own turmoil. After graduating from college and being rejected by the graduate program she wanted to enter, she became deeply depressed and full of self-doubt. She did not know what she wanted to do with her life. Only gradually did she open up to her mother on the trip, but it was Greece itself in its ancient wisdom as much as her mother which helped her begin to appreciate her own self-worth. The two of them have crafted a remarkably wise book which is “part travel story, part spiritual quest, and part induction into feminine passages.”(suemonkkidd.com)
Not only did I learn a great deal about places in Greece and France–the culture, the history, the mythology, but I also felt privileged to peek into the process of a novelist whose work I admire greatly. Kidd is a dream chronicler, who has written her dreams upon awakening for years and worked to interpret them. She’s a spiritual seeker of truth and open to revelation from outside herself as well as from within her own psyche. I don’t know if it is because these two stood on such sacred places and believed in mystic possibilities, but there were things in this nonfiction book, which I would have loved in a novel though I would not believe them really possible. So I will be reading The Secret Life of Bees again looking for those grace notes that Kidd found in Greece and France, and I hope to open myself up to deeper understanding of myself, my own creativity and the divine wellspring from which flow all our gifts.