Mother’s Day. How appropriate – motherhood has been consuming my thoughts of late, even more than usual. During the past week, concerns about my son have been brewing in my mind, along with questions about my own role as a mother and daughter. And while none have been completely resolved, I am beginning to wrap my mind around them and carry on. So my week away from writing ends here, on Mother’s Day, tucked into a corner table at Bigby’s Coffee Shop with my laptop, my book, and a tall house blend. Welcome to The Sunday Salon.
As I look back on my reading over the past week (actually, over the past year and more) I’m amazed at how often mothering figures into themes and plots. At this moment, A Family Daughter (Maile Meloy) sits beside me on the table, while The Optimist’s Daughter (Eudora Welty) lies open on my reading chair at home. Just last week I finished Hungry Hill, a memoir by Carole O’Malley Gaunt, who writes about the way her mother’s death has shaped her life, and the lives of her seven brothers. Before that, Run, Ann Patchett’s tale of two boys and two mothers. Earlier in the year, there was Men and Angels (Mary Gordon), The God of Animals (Aryn Kyle), Hearts and Minds (Rosy Thornton), and of course The Good Mother (Sue Miller). Motherhood figures in all these novels, in some larger than others, but there nevertheless.
So my reading history begs the question -are we drawn to the books we need to read? Have I been shunning my favorite mysteries and biographies in favor of novels about motherhood and family relationships? Is my subconscious mind attracting me toward books that might reveal some insight I need to hear?
I know that books have often played themselves out in my life in odd and unexplainable ways. When I was a teenager, one of my favorite books was Madeleine L’Engle’s Camilla. Part of the plot involves the title character, a young girl, who discovers her father is having an affair. Although I barely understood the meaning of the word, the implications fascinated me, as did the ramifications on Camilla. I even used this premise as the basis for a short story of my own, a story that won a Scholastic Writing Award.
Little did I know that 25 years later I would be living Camilla’s story.
A while back, I wrote a post about a book which cut so close to the quick of my own concerns that I set it aside unfinished. Some of the events in that book are being manifested in my life right now, and so it seems my prescience was warranted to some degree once again.
Mothers and books.
Powerful influences, aren’t they?
So tell me, has your life ever imitated a book? And do you ever find yourself drawn to books that you “need” to read?