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My Mother's Daughter: A Memoir [Hardcover]

Rona Maynard
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 11 2007
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

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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 Street in three vibrant generations.” — Globe and Mail

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.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Reading this book is like sitting down with a dear friend and listening to a compelling story about how she became her own person. Rona generously shares her life with a warmth and wisdom that are to be savored. While the details of Rona's journey are unique, many of us can relate to the yearning to find one's own voice and place in the world, at the same time as needing maternal acceptance, approval and support. The dramatic push and pull of mother-daughter relationships has never been more honestly portrayed.

Rona writes with clarity and courage of her growing up in the shadow of a powerful mother, who came from a long line of "larger than life" matriarchs. Fredelle's frustration at having to live within the confines of the static world of a 1950's housewife, were compounded by a lack of an outlet for her immense intellectual gifts and her difficult marriage to a troubled, self-absorbed, erratic husband. Rona and her sister Joyce became the all encompassing focus of Fredelle's energy, pride and ambitions. This intense, competitive family provides the background to Rona's own struggles with her identity, self-acceptance and ultimate direction.

Rona's memoir is a bitter-sweet tribute to her exceptional mother and also a celebration of her own resilience and accomplishments.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Mother's Daughter: a Memoir Oct. 20 2007
Were it possible, I would award this memoir six stars!

More perceptive than judgmental, more intuitive than slavishly-chronological, the book navigates the shoals of every emerging adult. Through the course of its pages, we witness the chrysalis turn butterfly.

It is rare, in my experience, that a memoir delivers such extraordinary resonance, regardless of reader (or author) gender. Given the title, and the author's provenance, it would be expected that this book is, primarily, addressed to a female audience. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

This is a beautiful, an exquisite, book. It is hardly a surprise that Rona Maynard writes well. Nor is it a surprise that her insights are as powerful as they are poignant. But surprise there is: this book connects (nigh-on umbilically!) with every child who has struggled with personal identity whilst still genetically-governed by the Need for parental approval - and who hasn't? The glory of the book is that parental approval arrives at the precise moment of Self Awareness.

I bought my copy. Read it. And bought six more copies: one for my daughter; one for my mother-in-law; two for female friends; and two for male buddies who, like me, decline to be pigeon-holed.

All-in-all, the book lays out the proof of Proust's assertion that, "We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world."

Christmas is coming! Treat your friends!

Roger Kenrick
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5.0 out of 5 stars A mother-daughter must-read Nov. 10 2007
There is much to like about this complex, honest and ultimately generous story of a complicated mother-daughter relationship. Rona, as always, delivers vivid images, beautifully crafted sentences and dialogue captured so well you feel you're eavesdropping. But there's more than simply fine writing here: Rona explores her relationship with her mother Fredelle and its impact on her relationship with her sister Joyce with an emotional honesty that reveals much about the struggle of a daughter to define herself and the forgiveness and understanding necessary--on all sides--to allow her to heal her relationships with her mother and sister. Whether you're already a fan of Rona's writing in Chatelaine and elsewhere, or new to her work, you'll find much to enoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mesmerizing Memoir Oct. 18 2007
I couldn't put Rona Maynard's book down. It resonated with me, not because my family is anything like Rona's, but because it got me thinking about all mothers and daughters. In fact, I am about to lend it to my own mother.
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