Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story
Sue Monk Kidd
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Sue Monk Kidd has touched millions of readers with her novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair and with her acclaimed nonfiction. In this intimate dual memoir, she and her daughter, Ann, offer distinct perspectives as a fifty-something and a twenty-something, each on a quest to redefine herself and to rediscover each other.
Between 1998 and 2000, Sue and Ann travel throughout Greece and France. Sue, coming to grips with aging, caught in a creative vacuum, longing to reconnect with her grown daughter, struggles to enlarge a vision of swarming bees into a novel. Ann, just graduated from college, heartbroken and benumbed by the classic question about what to do with her life, grapples with a painful depression. As this modern-day Demeter and Persephone chronicle the richly symbolic and personal meaning of an array of inspiring figures and sites, they also each give voice to that most protean of connections: the bond of mother and daughter.
A wise and involving book about feminine thresholds, spiritual growth, and renewal, Traveling with Pomegranates is both a revealing self-portrait by a beloved author and her daughter, a writer in the making, and a momentous story that will resonate with women everywhere.
head, crenulated in white, umber, and charcoal-gray colors. It’s not hard to imagine being swallowed and spit back out. I try to focus on the reunion—not the one in the myth, or even the one with Ann, but with the more mysterious Persephone in myself. It occurs to me that Ann and I may each be searching for something that resides naturally in the other: Ann, seeking her true self, her autonomy and voice, her place in the world; and me, looking for the sap of spring, the ability to conjure a new
says cracks her up, his sense of humor being even more acerbic than hers. I smile at her. “You look beautiful.” “You, too,” she says. There are a few seconds of quietness, then Pachelbel’s Canon floats across the garden. I watch the groomsmen move along the aisle, focusing on Bob as he takes his place in the lineup near an urn of flowers. I smile at him, aware that the letting go between mother and son is every bit as important, and yet different. When the “Bridal Chorus” starts, Sandy leans
happens, you can’t help marveling a little. I’ve been reading pieces of her writing and each time she hands me the pages, she prefaces it: Tell me the truth, give it to me straight, I want the good, the bad, and the ugly. She read in one of her writing books that a writer’s job is to serve his or her work—not the ego, but the writing itself. She took this to heart. As I sit here with twenty-two years of writing behind me, thinking of Ann and the way she has plunged into her apprenticeship, which
unusual,” he wrote. Our letters were the efforts of two people trying to be friends, but stuck in pen-palish language: Hi. How are you? The weather here is . . . I continued to write because I wanted his friendship, and because I felt badly about what happened before—failing to show up or even answer the phone when he called. I wanted to make it right. In my last letter to him, six months ago, I told him I was getting married and also that I was coming to Greece with my mom this fall. Months
told. I thought about my mom’s experiences during our trips, how she’d defined what it meant for her to become an older woman, discovered a new spiritual focus, and regenerated her whole creative life. It seemed a shame for her not to write about her own metamorphosis. Not to mention, our travels contained not just her individual story, and not just mine, but our story—a mother-daughter one that had happened in unison. Our experiences were tightly braided. Just as I could not imagine taking the