67 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2009
Like Sue Monk Kidd, I found myself at a crossroad when I turned 50 and my only child left home for college. Suddenly, I questioned my career direction and wondered where to turn next. But this isn't just a book for blocked writers. Kidd's new memoir speaks to the yearning in every woman who is entering menopause and struggling to redefine her motherhood, or searching for new projects to "birth." Having read all of Kidd's books, including her novels, I am grateful for this deeply personal glimpse into her creative doubts -- and her process.
Additionally, I traveled to the same places in Greece and Turkey, so the book also works as a compelling travel memoir. (In particular, I enjoyed the descriptions of Mary's last home in Turkey.) There's a lot more to this book -- just as there's a lot that goes on during menopause. While it's not a difficult read, this memoir is not exactly "light reading," and will hold most appeal to readers interested in feminist spirituality. I plan to read it again to appreciate its full depth. I'll read anything Sue Monk Kidd writes -- and was delighted to be introduced to the writing of her daughter as well. Highly recommended.
145 of 163 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2009
While I loved "The Secret Life of Bees" first as a novel and then even as a movie, and liked the Mermaid story that followed, this work of non-fiction combining a mother/daughter view is a major disappointment. Normally I like the "different chapter, different speaker" method of writing. Not so, here. The reason that I actually finished "Pomegranates" is that I did enjoy being filled in on some of the background of "Bees." Admittedly, some of the rest of the novel (Black Mary) is interesting from an historical perspective and the relationship of mother/daughter mildly interesting, I found that the two perspectives were self serving. As a woman about to turn 50 in a few months, I thought I would better relate to Sue and learn something meaningful of the changes brought about by menopause. Instead, I found myself bored by what seemed like an endless repetition of complaining and regret. And I have two almost 20 daughters... certainly there's something here that will give me some new insight...And then it dawned on me that Sue was actually helping daughter, Ann, to launch her career through this book! Ann's contribution was a travel dialogue that made me think, "You're kidding! You're that depressed right out of college,and you don't know you're divine purpose in life? How many of us realize that in our early 20's (or ever?) And then, "Eureka!" she wants to be a writer! And write about her travels to Greece? And do we need to know the details of planning a wedding? I was consumed by these details at Ann's age, too, but certainly don't want to read about anyone else's decisions.
I felt ripped off. An earlier opinion said this would be better as a blog. I agree totally. I'm just glad that I was able to get this from my local library and didn't buy it.
62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2009
This book provides some valuable information about Demeter, Persephone, and the Madonna (including fascinating information about the Black Madonna. ) I had hoped for an equally fascinating dialogue between mother and daughter, but instead I found it a little cloying and self-absorbed. These are women to the manor born, who seem to be able to spend big chunks of their lives traveling, being depressed, crying, lighting candles, writing, and seeing a therapist. To cap it off, the daughter decides to get married under an oak tree on a famous plantation in South Carolina. The gardens, she admits, were built by "100 slaves in 7 days." That's about as political as the book gets. I sense that these two southern women are searching for a black woman (or Madonna) as a rescue figure. This is a tale as old as our country...(See Gone with the Wind etc). Toward the end of the book, Sue (the mother) touches lightly on the world situation. She wants to give back, help out - but all she gives, in the end, is honey on the roots of a tree in Crete...The book is wrapped up in symbolism that seems superficial and dainty... like wearing white gloves to go feed the poor.
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2009
I had the misfortune of trying to listen to this book on CD. Sue Monk Kidd seems to think her every thought and action has such import that she must relate it to the meaning of life (slowly and more slowly). For someone so acutely aware of the passage of time, you'd think she would have stepped up the pace of her writing a bit
I wasn't quite sure whether it was her sniveling daughter or Eeyore who was writing, as she complained her way through an entitled trip through Greece and France. This was one of the most painful listening experiences I have ever had. I finally had to stop listening-all I could think of was how happy their husband and boyfriend must have been to get a break from these two intensely self-absorbed women who really need to learn how to LIGHTEN up. I went to Greece and France while I was in menopause and I must say that though the trips were, indeed, life changing experiences I had a lot more fun during my period of self-discovery. Get a clue girls, if you can't have a little more fun on what most people consider trips of a lifetime, stay home and donate the time and money to a shelter for abused women and children. You might get a better perspective on your perceived "angst" and see what some women endure with grace and dignity and strength of character. ...Now there might be a worthwhile book!
I would have to agree with the reviewer who felt this book was a dishonest way for Sue Monk Kidd to get her daughter published as a first time author. It seemed like a shameful ploy for both of them. With this bad taste in my mouth, I probably won't ever read another book by Sue Monk Kidd again.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I've read most of Sue Monk Kidd's work and I enjoy both her fiction ("Secret Life of Bees" and "Mermaid Chair") and non-fiction (especially "Dance of the Dissident Daughter") equally.
That being said, this book definitely veers more towards the "non-fiction spiritual memoir" side of things. And I LOVE spiritual memoirs, especially those that bring into focus untraditional ways of approaching of worship and faith.
The book is centered around a series of trips that Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter (Ann Kidd Taylor, co-author) took to Europe in the last fifteen years. While traveling, both women were facing their own individual emotional challenges- Taylor, freshly gradated from college, was struggling with not only the aspect of being an "adult" but also trying to come to terms with a shattering rejection (no, *not* of the relationship variety, which I appreciated), and Kidd was facing the reality of menopause and her unrealized dream of becoming a novelist (the first trip was taken before "Secret Life of Bees" was even a concrete idea) plus her struggle with faith.
As the two women travel together, and visit sites of both mythical and religious importance, they begin to discover very startling truths about themselves. Each take turns writing about different aspects of their travels, and the significance each location and experience had for them.
While this book is not really religious it is *very* spiritual and personal. There are very complex issues that come up, and for someone like myself who is constantly questioning her own faith and "place" in the world, both Kidd and Taylor's issues resonated deeply. There is much talk about menopause, the female "side" of God, depression, and the relationship between the two women. I'm in my mid-30's and I was able to relate to both women's stories simply because I'm facing the physical realities of growing older AND still trying to figure out what my life's purpose is. So I was able to easily slip in and out of each women's narrative and emotional struggles with ease. It almost felt like I was among good friends. I felt very comfortable within the pages of the book.
However, I can see how many would feel it is a self-indulgent book, because it *really* is. I think I feel so strongly positive about it because I could identify with SO much of it, so reading it was a tremendously rewarding experience for me. Half of my copy of the book is dog-eared and underlined because of all the passages that I could identify with so strongly. I appreciated the fact that both women were willing to be so honest and so open with their experiences.
I got a tremendous amount from this book. It opened my mind up to new ideas, soothed me, and I read it whenever I had a spare minute. I'm still going through passages and thinking about the various issues brought up and it's helped me clarify and acknowledge some thing that are going on with my own life.
But the bottom line is that if you are not concerned with the issues facing Kidd and Taylor (menopause, "what do I really want to spend my life doing?", female iconography of God, mythology) you won't enjoy this book. It would be like reading a highly technical book about baseball if you're not remotely interested in the sport. The travel bits alone will not keep you interested if you the women's stories don't captivate you. However, if you enjoy spiritual-based travel memoirs, or stories about mothers and daughters, I would recommend it.
58 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2009
I came upon this novel while browsing in a local bookstore...I was not looking for this book - IT found me.
First, I would like to thank Sue and Ann for coming to the realization that this was a journey novel requiring two voices - the voice of a young woman (Maiden/Mother) and the voice of an older woman(Crone/Wisewoman). That they are also mother and daughter amplifies their story, their journey, their transition from one way of being into another.
The Demeter & Persephone theme was a natural development that occurred early in their travels, but became a mystical theme moving forward. As Ann and Sue's actual journey's unfold, so do the answers to the deep questions and fears that they harbor - each on the cusp of their own personal, cyclical transition.
This is an important, timely and wise book that a mother can gift her daughter with, or that a daughter might gift her mother with. I cannot recommend this novel strongly enough.
Thank you, Sue and Ann!
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2010
This book was nothing more than brash advertising and assistance from a successful novelist in an attempt to launch her daughter's first published work.It brought forth both feelings of anger and irritation with a Mother who views her life as ending at the age of 50 and a daughter who wallows in self pity and depression because she got rejected by ONE graduate school where she had hoped to hide away in a land of self indulgent academia. These two have too much time and money on their hands. Most of us cannot relate to repeated vacations to Greece to "find ourselves" and the author's obsessive attempts to "re-create" Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to fit her own emotional needs is unsettling at best.
I suppose the recession/depression we are currently experiencing colored my attitude while reading this book.It was hard to feel sorry for two women indulging themselves while three of my neighbors suffered foreclosure (all well over the age of 50.)
I did enjoy The Secret Life of Bees immensely but was not particularly interested in reading about how the book became reality.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I have a lot of respect for spiritual journeys. I thoroughly enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd's The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine. Even though she headed in directions that don't appeal to me personally, I loved reading about her spiritual awakening.
This book, about Kidd's travels with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor as they both face times of crisis in their lives -- Sue as she enters the second half of life, Ann as she crosses over into adulthood -- may appeal in the same way to mothers and daughters trying to make their way toward each other and toward a truer version of their new selves.
Beyond that, I can't much recommend this book. It is a muddle of introspective thought that has little meaning except for the protagonists. The two women endlessly recount dreams they've had and look to the dreams for meaning, as they look to myths, statues and holy places for guidance. I'm not sure they're better off for having left the age-old traditions of faith that revere Father-Son images for their new Mother-Daughter imagery.
While they're praying to everyone but God -- Athena, the Black Madonna, the Virgin Mary, Demeter and Persephone, Joan of Arc -- they traipse around Greece, Turkey and France weeping about their fates. Ann is plunged into depression after being rejected by a grad-school program. Sue is having a typical mid-life crisis, even though she paints it a little more atypically. It is this indulgent international gnashing of teeth that truly put me off. Do you know what I wouldn't give to travel to these places? I sure wouldn't waste the privilege dragging around steeped in self-pity. I would have more readily considered their epiphanies if they had just stayed at home in Charleston (another place I love and could not be unhappy in!) and duked it out there. It made me long for Shirley Valentine as a traveling companion.
Just one sentence in a book can color your whole picture of an author. At one point, Sue relates how her own 75-year-old mother read Dissident Daughter and cried out in a letter, "Oh, Sue, I don't want to miss the dance!" Instead of jumping at the chance to forge a tie with her own mother -- a real person, not some vague uber-mother of myth or spiritual tradition -- Sue apparently brushes her off. "I have to tell myself what is true, that I didn't follow up on that bright opening the way I might have." She says she wishes for a "deeper connection" with her mother, but she can't be bothered to work at it. For me, this one sentence invalidated the entire agonized trek. Love the ones you're with, my dear.
Toward the end of the book, at her wedding, Ann chides herself: "Don't overthink." I wish she had thought of that sooner. She and Sue could have saved themselves a lot of grief. Just have your Big Fat Greek Wedding Southern style, cry and laugh and argue with your family and get over yourself. Then get back to writing.
34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2010
My 27 year old daughter brought this book to my attention after hearing about it. Even though we are both avid readers, she rarely brings a book to my attention, and I was touched by her enthusiasm about a mother-daughter story. I loved The Secret LIfe of Bees. Sure, I was disappointed in The Mermaid Chair, but I was willing to give Kidd another chance. Boy, was I disappointed. I tried to find some redeeming qualities, but the more I read, the angrier I got. The thought that kept going through my mind was, what incredibly self-absorbed and self-indulgent people these women are. Get over yourselves, ladies! I made it to page 272 and had to stop. I am mad I wasted so much time on this self-promoting and self-absorbed drivel. I will never read another SMK or AKT book.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2009
This short book will apeal to readers of Sue M Kidd's "Dance of the Disodent Daughter". Fiction fans will likely be disapointed.
The short two voiced memoir about growing old and getting on with life had its bright moments. I was quite moved by the experiences at the home of Mary in Ephesus as well as the Black Madonna in the tree, however there where some rumination that I didn't think added to the 'story' for instance the wedding or the angst of the Greek friend. You do have to wade through some things to get to the gems of insight.
Honestly it felt very much like a number of blog entries that were rewritten for a book. I gave it three stars because I did enjoy the book and have recommended it to a select few women I know who would like it, but it is not for everyone. And it's not a can't-put-it-down read.