Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story

Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Author: Ann Kidd Taylor
This book written by Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees, and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor focuses on their unique and common journeys from different stages of womanhood. Both struggle to redefine themselves, Ann while she becomes an independent woman is unsure what she should do with her life. Sue wants so much to be there for her daughter without being overbearing while exploring the unknowns of what she wants to do with this new phase of her life. This is the story of mother and daughter and how this fundamental relationship is mutable but constant. This is also a story of how these two women deal with the stages of womanhood and how they overlap.

There is no right way to age, young or old. Traveling with Pomegranates takes us on Sue and Ann’s journey to Greece twice, through France and the struggle to find interdependence on one another and themselves. In this story they reintroduce spiritual icons of yesteryear and reclaim them for all women. In a time when women seem to be struggling more than ever, discouraged, disconnected—this book reconnects us in a very real way—with poetic correlations between their (and our own) experience(s) and the mythical experiences of Demeter and Persephone.

This books reminds all women they are not alone, to find your voice, to lean on one another, to be open.

I recommend this book to all mothers, all daughters, all women.

ISBN: 9780670021208
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication Date: 9/8/2009
Links: Amazon, Library of Congress, Amazon,

Characters: Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Taylor Kidd, Scott Taylor (Ann’s husband), Sandy Kidd (Sue’s husband),

Memorable Quote
Plot: The book opens with Sue and Ann traveling in Greece. Ann is in college and Sue is struggling with how to reach her daughter…
Quote: “I close my eyes and even in the tumult of the museum, where there seem to be ten tourists per square inch, I know the feeling is actually everything. It is the undisclosed reason I’ve come to the other side of the world with my daughter. Because in a way which makes no sense, she seems lost to me now. Because she is grown and a stranger. And I miss her violently.

Memorable Quote 2
Plot: Sue grappling with aging.
Quote: “Surely I’m above this sort of thing. I could not be one of those women who clings to the facades of youth. 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 of time on my skin. Was I dabbling in the politics of vanity or died I obsess on my face to avoid my soul? Furthermore, whatever room I happened to be in seemed unnaturally overheated. During the nights I wandered in long, sleepless corridors. At forty-nine my body was engaged in vague, mutinous behaviors.”

Memorable Quote 3
Plot: Sue still grappling with aging…
Quote: “…about becoming an older woman and the trepidation it stirred. The small, telling ‘betrayals’ of my body…unsettled feelings coursing through me, the need to divest and relocate, the urge to radically simplify and distill life into a new, unknown meaning. And why, I asked myself, had I begun to think for the first time about my own mortality? Some days, the thought of dying gouged into my heart to the point I filled up with tears at the sight of small, ordinary things I would miss.”

Memorable Quote 4
Plot: Sue ‘stumbled upon four lines in May Sarton’s poem ‘When a Woman Feels Alone”.
Quote: “Old Woman I meet you deep inside myself.
There in the rootbed of fertility,
World without end, as the legend tells it.
Under the words you are my silence.

Memorable Quote 5
Plot: Sue is sitting at the Kallichoron Well, a well dating back to the sixth century BCE, the well Demeter looked down to find her daughter, Persephone. She is overcome with a sense of aloneness as she puts it…
Quote: “What is the conversation that needs to go on inside of a woman at this juncture in her life? Is it really the one about relinquishment, grief, and return?…sitting in the compost of this demised world, I know I’m here to enter that very conversation. To face irrevocable truths and grieve a little…or perhaps a lot. Then start to let go. Something is over.

Memorable Quote 6
Plot: Sue still at the Kallichoron Well thinking about all the changes she is facing, the loss…
Quote: “…I try to finish what I never did when she left for college–letting her go into her own life…In what seems like a cruel trick of timing, women often find themselves letting go of their daughters around the same time they must let go of their identities as younger women.”

“I am clearly in the vestibule of menopause, otherwise known as perimenopause–a strange foyer where you find yourself waiting around to be ushered into the real room, the final room. In the beginning, I spent a fair amount of time telling myself I didn’t belong in there. Then the small jolts of truth began…”

Memorable Quote 7
Plot: Sue on approaching menopause…
Quote: “Why does the approach of menopause feel momentous and sad somehow? It certainly doesn’t bother me that I won’t have more children! Please. I only know there’s something unsettling about a door that closes forever. I feel a vague lament about the changing of my body, the alterations in my appearance, the bleeding out of motherhood, the fear that I will not find the mysterious green fuse again. As I listen carefully to myself, I overhear a confused murmuring inside: What now? What will be born in me now??”

“But despite whatever intellect I try to apply to the situation, I cannot deny that when the womb folds its red tent, at some level it becomes a primal confrontation with limitation. There seem to be deep, archaic, often unconscious beliefs about the womb as the place of fertility and feminine fruition, and when the womb is spent, all kinds of illogical feelings can surface, feelings that one’s creativity and identity are over, too.”

“I have not wanted to admit the small sorrow I feel. No one is supposed to lament about menopause anymore–fifty being the new forty and all. Turning fifty is about freedom and hitting your stride, and I do believe this. But everything has its opposite, its shadow, a darkness that defines the light. Rebirth is almost impossible without that darkness; I have at least learned that over the years. I tell myself I am experiencing the death of myself as mother, the death of myself as a younger woman–precious old lives going by the wayside. Of course, I should let myself grieve. To deny the grief is to squander a transforming and radiant possibility. Everything in me knows this.”

Memorable Quote 8
Plot: Ann is depressed and doesn’t want to burden her mother with it or to articulate it, she is afraid it will make it real…cement it permanently.
Quote: “I can’t keep her in the dark much longer about what’s going on with me, and I don’t want to anymore–well, more or less. Once the words are out there, they start to live and breathe in unpredictable ways. Another person will know what I do, and that will make the whole thing somehow truer and irreversible.”

Memorable Quote 9
Plot: Ann on her depression…
Quote: “I sit on the stone ledge as depression floods in. I try to hold myself there…to not run away. I remember when I was around nine, playing rodeo in the ocean waves with my brother, straddling a raft, and how a large wave unexpectedly knocked me off and shoved me under. Before I could surface, another wave pushed me down, then another. This is my life. The darkness tunneling back and back…

I could lose myself to depression.

“It occurs to me then that Persephone came back. I could come back, even if at this moment I don’t understand how. There is an end to this.

Memorable Quote 10
Plot: Struggling, Ann finds hope…
Quote: “I will return.

Memorable Quote 11
Plot: Sue is recalling when she was a new mother…
Quote: “Maybe I will be terrible at this; I will do something horribly wrong—sleep through his hungry crying until he grows emaciated or overfeed him until he spits up and aspirates. There are a thousand ways to screw it up, and I feel ripe for all of them.”

Memorable Quote 12
Plot: Again, Sue is thinking about being in the same place she was when her children were just born, scared…
Quote: “…I’ve arrived at the moment again—the scared new mother, not of a newborn, but of a grown, floudering daughter—feeling alone, afraid, the hormonal soup turned menopausal. There are a thousand ways to screw it up.”

Memorable Quote 13
Plot: When Sue is ready to end her relationship with her therapist, her therapist gives her some wisdom to hold on to…
Quote: “I’m telling you that you’ll be fine if you follow your spirit and travel with your instincts.”

Memorable Quote 14
Plot: Sue on writing, loss and potential…
Quote: “It almost bereaves me to think of unrealized potentials dying inside, the small miscarriages of self.”

Memorable Quote 15
Plot: In Greece, Sue watches her daughter, Ann, and struggles with how to interact with her…
Quote: “I realize I’m still trying to work out the boundaries. How to love her without interfering. How to step back and let her have her private world and yet still be an intimate part of it. When she talks about her feelings, I have to consciously tell myself she wants me to receive them, not fix them.”

“Every woman needs to become self-mothering, I remind myself. To learn to take care of herself, to love herself. Ann has to find a mother in herself. She will replace me. That’s the point now.”

Memorable Quote 16
Quote: “…hearth and Hestia—a Goddess who doesn’t represent domesticity to me so much as the ability to dwell, to belong to one’s place…”

“Journeying is the predominant means of developing one’s self in this culture, not the habitation of place. It has been true of me. Always the seeker. Yet at this phase of my life, when I look at my house at the edge of a marsh, I want to learn to be in it. I want to behave like a finder as much as a seeker. The irony is that I had to go on an elaborate journey to figure this out. So much of my growing older seems to be about paradoxes. The reconciliation of opposites. The bringing to balance.”

Memorable Quote 17
Quote: “My heaviness, though, has given way to a feeling of lightness. The aliveness, that sense of inhabiting the moment that invaded me after being inside the burial chamber, has not entirely faded. Common moments still have all this poignancy about them. I am not sad. I am–what?I feel tender. Life feels tender.

“I struggle to express what I sense; the way to leave my small self is through a simple return to love… Readiness for dying arrives by attending the smallest moment and finding the eternal inside of it.”

Memorable Quote 18
Plot: Ann is finding symbolism in leaving a piece of chain with the Black Virgin Mary in Our Lady of Rocamadour’s chapel.
Quote: “…By leaving it there, I was trying to move on from the self-doubt, the fear of rejection—and yes, sometimes even self-hate. I thought: why can’t this be the place I start to love myself?”

Memorable Quote 19
Plot: Thinking about childhood, life, how it all changes…
Quote: “…everything ends, life passes, it is all changing.”

“Right then, I felt perfectly positioned between two worlds. I tried to say to myself what they were—old and new, childhood and grown-up-hood, going solo and going duet, madame and mademoiselle.”

Memorable Quote 20
Plot: After her wedding Ann is thinking about the future, the past, things she remembers…the first is something her grandfather used to always to say to her and the second is from a David Whyte poem…
Quote: “Into every life a little rain must fall.”

Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong.

Memorable Quote 21
Plot: Sue coming to terms with the “Old Woman”…
Quote: “Images well up in me more spontaneously, trailing along a stream of ideas, memories, feelings, and symbols, and I feel connected to a sourcelike place in myself.”

From Sarton’s poem, Old Woman…Under the words you are my silence..

Memorable Quote 22
Plot: After a scare with a lump in her breast, Ann finds clarity…
Quote: “…I was very conscious of life’s gifts. I seemed to cherish the people I love more. I was a little more forgiving and appreciative, for a while anyway, though I don’t think the new cherishing I felt ever wore off completely…”

Memorable Quote 23
Quote: “There is wisdom in refusing the role of savior and accepting my limitations. Turning fifty involved making in severe peace with the fact that I cannot give birth to every egg in my ovaries or every potential in my soul.”

“To say nothing of the way motives sometimes get mixed when the scheme is grand: what starts out as serving the world can easily turn into serving one’s self. The opposite side of it, though, is the long, slow retreat into indifference and cynicism.”

“There is a time when you are simply seized by tenderness for the world, that’s all…When you decide you want your work to serve some part of that, too.”

Memorable Quote 24
Plot: At the Sanctuary of Demeter-Eleusis, thinking about her daughter’s depression, Ann reflects on how it affected her.
Quote: “I wish I did not remember how lost and depressed she was then, but it wells up suddenly and a sharp sensation twists through my stomach, as if the memories are archived in the cells of my body and have been viscerally retrieved.”

Memorable Quote 25
Plot: Sue looking at her daughter, Ann, from a little distance…
Quote: “…I’m struck by a sweet, choking feeling—that way love blindsides.”

“I’ve tried to understand what the embrace between Demeter and Persephone means. I have come to believe it’s really about the aperture opening. It’s the channel where the souls of a mother and a daughter open and flow as two separate adults, woman to woman. It is, I know now, a place created through necessary loss and necessary search, and a reinvention of the whole relationship.”