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My Mother's Daughter: A Memoir [Kindle Edition]

Rona Maynard
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Personal memories of the sort her Chatelaine readers adored — a remarkable life story seen through the window of her relationship with her mother.

Every woman’s relationship with her mother is special. Yet everyone will recognize some parts of another woman’s story, especially if it is told as honestly and as sensitively as Rona Maynard tells it here.

As a little girl, Maynard soon came to see that her family was not an ordinary one. Her father, Max, was an artist and an alcoholic. Her mother was Fredelle Maynard, a brilliant academic who could not get a teaching job because she was a woman. Instead she became a writer — the author of Raisins and Almonds — and, above all, a driving, loving, ambitious, overpowering mother.

In her shadow (and that of younger sister Joyce, who went off at eighteen to live with J.D. Salinger) Rona took time to blossom as a writer and editor in Toronto. This book takes us through her career, step by step, including the miseries of being accused by her son’s teachers — and her own mother — of being a bad mother, overly concerned with her own career.

Rona’s strong, direct style will ring true for every working woman. Through the magic of her writing, she gives a clear-eyed and affectionate account of her relationship with a demanding, loving mother.

I said to my father, "You don’t live here any more. This is Mother’s house, not yours. It’s time for you to go."
My father cursed me. He shook his fist. Then he left and never came back.
—From My Mother’s Daughter

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


My Mother’s Daughter is a wonderfully honest and enthralling book.”
— Alice Munro

“…a searingly honest accounting that makes for a most compelling read….In My Mother’s Daughter, Rona Maynard shows a substantive talent, using elegant, evocative and disciplined prose, surpassing her mother’s prosaic and pragmatic style.” – Toronto Star

“Maynard hasn’t written this memoir from behind the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. Every character who makes an appearance in her memoir is a fully sketched human, the flaws no less visible than the positive attributes. She doesn’t shy away from portraying honest family difficulties…. Maynard writes honestly and unselfconsciously, without coming off as malicious. No, the people in her life are not perfect, but My Mother’s Daughter stands as a firm testament to the fact that they were still valued, and deservedly so.” — Quill & Quire

My Mother’s Daughter is a searingly honest, often indignant look at life with high-powered parents and at the rivalries, resentments and deeply felt bonds of the mother-daughter relationship….Maynard’s account of life as a satellite in her mother’s orbit, of family friction, frenzied hopes and hard-won accomplishment is laced with both satisfaction and leftover vexation.” — London Free Press

My Mother’s Daughter is a beautifully told story…” — Globe and Mail

My Mother’s Daughter — part personal memoir, part family history — is the compelling story of [a] loving, abrasive, mother-daughter relationship….It’s also a mvoing tribute to the unswerving, often unnerving matriarchal passion that powered one family’s Canadian odyssey from shtetl to Bay Stree...

About the Author

Born in New Hampshire of Canadian parents, Rona Maynard went to the University of Toronto, where she met and married Paul Jones. A career in journalism, including a spell at Maclean’s, led in time to her becoming editor of Chatelaine in 1995, where she attracted a new generation of readers to the most enduringly successful magazine in Canada. A freelance writer since she left Chatelaine in 2004, she is also a professional lecturer who is much in demand. She lives in Toronto.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 363 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0771055552
  • Publisher: Emblem Editions (February 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0035JEPCM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,118,820 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another view of a remarkable woman and her family February 2, 2009
It isn't often that three members of a single family write their memoirs--in fact, the only instance I can recall are the books published by the three women of the Maynard family. Fredelle Bruser Maynard wrote innumerable women's magazine pieces as well as "Raisins and Almonds," the story of her girlhood in rural Canada. She followed it up with a more revealing volume, "The Tree of Life," published soon before her diagnosis with terminal brain cancer. Joyce Maynard, the prolific American novelist and journalist, discussed her family in book form in 1998 in "At Home in the World." Her older sister, the wry, reserved Rona, first chose a career as an editor, not as a writer. "My Mother's Daughter" is a tender, frank, marvelous discussion of how Rona grew up with a forceful, frustrated mother. Fredelle had a Ph.D. in English literature from Radcliffe, yet was able to find teaching jobs only spottily during and after her first pregnancy at the end of the 1940s. Her husband, Max, also was frustrated: a gifted painter, he received real recognition for his art only toward the end of his life. He supported his family (just barely) teaching English at the University of New Hampshire with no more than a bachelor's degree. His alcoholism affected all three Maynard women profoundly, as Rona describes. She married and became a mother quite young, juggling university classes, and eventually became editor of Canada's foremost women's magazine, Chatelaine. Rona insisted that the position was "a ten-year job," and kept her word: resigning after a decade to pursue a career as a writer and speaker. In time, she found her own true voice by listening to other women's stories. When interviewing women for magazine articles, she notes, her subjects were most likely to ask, "What did the other women say? Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE LONG SHADOW OF A MOTHER'S INFLUENCE January 28, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author grew up in a home overshadowed by a brilliant, Radcliffe-trained academic mother, Fredelle, who couldn't get a teaching job because she was a woman. In the background, but also always noticed, was her charming, dashing father, Max, who was a professor and an artist (but also an alcoholic). Fredelle provided income as a writer, but the anger she felt over the inequities of her situation seemingly consumed her at times. But she focused her considerable energies upon her home and her daughters, Rona, followed later by Joyce.

Rona recalls her sister as the family charmer, while she was the rebel. While still in college, she married, and then a year later, had her son. In the large shadow of her mother (and then of her sister, who at eighteen went off to live with J. D. Salinger), Rona still managed to blossom as a writer and an editor. She had to fight against a chronic depression and the label of being called a "bad mother" by her son's teachers and her own mother for working long hours.

Struggling to forge her unique identity, against these influences and these odds, is the driving force of this memoir. It is a reminder for each woman of how her own mother's stamp of approval or disapproval informs her life. It is also a triumphant declaration of how history, family environment, and the times in which she lived created a woman who excelled in spite of the odds. Her quote: "I became who I am in spite of her and because of her."

I enjoyed reading the history of the author and her family, for I have read and followed her sister's literary journey. Rona's story fills in a few more pieces of this puzzle. I chose four stars for My Mother's Daughter: A Memoir because, at times, the journey was a bit tedious. I would recommend it to those who love memoirs, or who can relate to the mother-daughter issues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rona the Second's journey is a worthy read May 11, 2010
I was very pleased to receive this book as a gift from a Canadian friend. I used the occasion of Mother's Day weekend to read it, and it was a great choice. Ms. Maynard's honors the mother-daughter relationship by allowing us to see the gamut of her life with her mother, the shameful moments as well as the beautiful and inspiring ones. She does more than just focus on herself and her own mother. Through seamless scholarship and delving deep for her story, she also shares the stories of her mother's relationship with her mother, and even honors the memory of her father's difficult mother. While celebrating the complicated, amazing, force of nature that Ms. Maynard's mother was, the author never loses sight of herself as a character. She traces her own growth and character arc with amazing insight, honesty, and skill. She neither treats her parents with kid gloves nor batters them unnecessarily. In particular, I admire her ability to summon the anger she felt at her alcoholic father, and yet treat him with fairness and, in the end, compassion.

Another reason for the success of this narrative is that it touches on the immigrant experience - Jewish and Anglo - and brings to life characters from another time in Canadian history by telling the Maynard and Bruser families' stories. And in the recounting of Ms. Maynard's experience as a writer and editor climbing the corporate ladder during the 1970s, and her mother's experience in academia in the 1940s, we learn firsthand how sexism operated in the workplace. Perhaps most importantly, the honest treatment of mental illness and alcoholism is strong. Rather than a simplistic story of depression and then "getting better," Ms.
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