Category Archives: Mothers & Daughters

Mothers & Daughters

When I first read Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle, I was haunted by the image of her mother sifting through a dumpster because it was my great fear that that was how my mother would end up.  And further, I worried that after everything that had happened between us and our complete estrangement for well over ten years, I would end up taking care of her.  Readers of Chanel Bonfire will probably be shocked but not surprised to hear this: shocked that after everything my mother did to us, I would feel obliged to try and look out for her again, but not surprised that that is how it could turn out.  Roles like ours–mother/daughter, antagonist, protector, jailer, guard, etc. are hard to slough off.

While many readers of Chanel Bonfire enjoy the book for the harrowing stories and comedic moments and the vicarious thrill of another life lived, many others see a version, a shade of their own experience.  Particularly, many women see variations of their own relationships with their mothers.  Some are in the past, their mothers are gone, but they are still trying to reconcile what happened; some are on-going and being made even more complicated by aging and the reversal of roles between daughter and mother; others–those of teen girls like Robbie and I were–are still very much in the thick of it.  

Many readers ask how I found my way and worked out my relationship with my mother–what I did, what I read.  One of the most useful and practical books I found was “When You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends” by Victoria Secunda.  It is a clear-eyed view of this most complicated of relationships and I highly recommend it.


Meeting Readers: Talking Moms

At Hotel Bel Air on Monday, July 8th

I had a wonderful time yesterday at Literary Affairs’ Books & Breakfast event at Hotel Bel Air.  Many thanks to Julie Robinson for organizing it, Hotel Bel Air for hosting and especially the big crowd who came out to talk, buy books and have their books autographed!  The last time I went to Bel Air, I was a month away from delivering my daughter (now 14!).  My husband and I left our four year old son with my step-sister and had a last fling.  The staff was attentive, the food marvelous and the atmosphere too romantic for words.  That January night we had the steaming, lit, oval-shaped pool all to ourselves.  This was my first trip back since then and since the terrific renovation.  The hotel may be spruced up and more modern feeling but the charm and attentiveness of the staff has remained as wonderful as ever.

While we spent a lot of time talking about Chanel Bonfire yesterday, we also spent a lot of time talking about my and readers’ difficult relationships with their mothers–many of whom seem like they might give Georgann Rea a run for her money.  As you can imagine, I spent a lot of time over the years learning how to deal with my relationship with my mother–through therapy and books–and I’ve come across a plethora of strategies.  It was a great experience being able to hear others’ stories and swap ideas and book titles with those still trying to work things out.  Thank you all for sharing.

If you can’t make it to a Chanel Bonfire event, I am also Skyping with Book Groups who are reading Chanel.  Just email me at and we can schedule a time.  

If you are part of big group or association and would like me to come speak about Chanel and the challenges of dealing with difficult, challenging or just plain toxic mothers, click on the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau button on the right.