Monday, May 29, 2017

Not Your Mother’s Books

Hi All,

I hope you are enjoying the holiday with good weather, good food, and good neighbors and that in between the pancake breakfasts, the parades, and the picnics, you find a moment to think of the fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, and wives, and daughters who have served our nation.

Part of our holiday celebration was a friend’s garden tea, where, in between the clotted cream and scones, people were passing my pen around (a writer always has a pen) to capture recommendations for their book groups. It got me thinking.

What about you? Do you make note of every recommendation you hear? Do you trust a certain friend’s taste and know that what excites another friend will never do for you? And what about your mom? Did you ever read or NOT read a book because your mother recommended it? Are you still resisting your mom’s recommendations?

Just as certain retailers market a brand of jeans called “Not Your Mother’s Jeans.” I suspect that for some of us, at least for a few years of our lives, we’re thinking--Please, Not My Mother’s Books!

I have to confess that I’ve resisted some of my mom’s favorites because they seemed to belong to her and her life experience and not mine.

By chance I read about one of her favorite writers, while doing research for my upcoming book from Kensington, The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London--Rumer Godden. It was just a snippet in my research, but it made me want to take a second look at Mom’s shelves. Godden’s extraordinary life spanned the twentieth century, and she lived from Bangladesh to Scotland. She wrote “women’s fiction” before we had a name for it, perhaps because she had a husband abandon her, lost a baby, and raised a pair of daughters on her own before a second happier marriage.

She grew up at Narayanganj, a small town on a tributary of the Brahmaputra River in East Bengal where their father was the manager of a steamship company. She and one of her sisters were sent to England to school and returned to India with the outbreak of World War I. She taught dance and insisted that her parents educate her in the language and customs of the land she had come to love.

She claims that she didn’t “ever fall for any real man, not after Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice” a book she read over a dozen times. However, when her second husband James died in 1975, in her diary Godden wrote: "I never want to be consoled. I never want another man in my life." Now, I definitely want to read a writer who fell for Darcy and her own husband so deeply. It may be time to borrow a book or two from Mom’s shelf.

What’s on your Mother’s shelf? Have you and she developed shared tastes? 


jean hart stewart said...

I agree with her...I've read lots of books but no one equals Darcy. My mother read mostly current news, but lots of that. We certainly share a lot, including a love of gardens and birds.

Tina Donahue said...

Your mom had a very interesting life.

KateM said...

Hi Jean, For my mom and I the love of gardens and birds and hosting family dinners are probably the top three loves we share. I'm a late in life dog person while she was never without a dog. :)

Kayelle Allen said...

Loved this tribute. :)