Having read The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees, both by Sue Monk Kidd, I was excited when this was chosen as one of our book club selections. That was in November. I just finished reading the book now. What does that tell you?
Traveling with Pomegranates should have been a better book than it actually is. This is a mother(Sue)/daughter(Ann) memoir about travel, faith, love, creativity and writing. At the beginning, as I settled in, I thought that it was going to be quite compelling. I felt a kinship with Sue:
“I didn’t understand why I was responding to the prospect of aging with such shallowness and dread, only that there had to be more to it than the etchings on my skin” (4).
In Sue’s capable hands, this journey is – if not always engaging – at least well written and thoughtful. Sadly, I can’t say the same for Ann’s part. I found her whiny and entitled. I never warmed up to her.
Mother and daughter visit Greece together in 1998. Ann is 22 and Sue mourns the loss of the little girl she was. She is also acutely aware that something troubling is going on with her daughter. At first glance it might seem that Ann’s disappointment has to do with the fact that she didn’t get into graduate school, but as the mother/daughter writers unspool the story it turns out that they are both looking for something more complicated. And they spend the rest of the book kneeling at the feet of Madonnas (and other powerful female icons) in Greece and Crete and France…trying to find it.
Ultimately, it turns out that graduate school was never what Ann truly wanted; she wants to be a writer. And how wonderful for her that her mother is and that they could do this book together.