Audiobook. This audiobook, read by the mother and daughter authors, was loaned to me by Mary Susan. I had read Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees years ago and liked it. And this one was quite pleasing too. It begins with a trip to Greece the two took together just as Ann was finishing college and continues through Sue’s decision to begin writing fiction, a trip to France they took together, Ann’s realization that she wants to write as well, and her wedding. The book came to fruition after Sue finished two novels and Ann had a child.
Their trip to Greece brought them together as grown-up-daughter and mother-turning-50. Ann was struggling to find her life’s work, and Sue was tuned in to find newly meaningful spiritual connections. Demeter and her daughter Persephone figured large in their travels and in their thinking. The pomegranates of the title are important in that Persephone was tricked by Hades into eating four pomegranate seeds, thus insuring that she must continue to live in the underworld. Because Zeus couldn’t allow Demeter’s mourning to kill all green things on earth, he worked it out so that she only mourns for four months a year; thus we have winter.
The subsequent trip to France was a tour led by Sue and some friends to celebrate various important female religious icons. Some were in Paris, and some were in intriguingly obscure places. One that was important in their travels was the Black Virgin at Rocamadour. Jim and I spent a night there while hiking in the region and their description of the chapel brought back pleasant memories. Sue’s research for the group on the reason for a Black Virgin discounted what I had read, that is, the virgin was dark because of the discoloring smoke. She believes the Black Mary is a legacy of ancient black goddesses and for her novel, the Black Madonna was a symbol for freedom and consolation.
I also thought of a Black Virgin I saw in the early 1990s on a bike trip in Greece at Mega Spelaion in the mountains near Kalavrita. I first found my description of it with no mention of the color, then found a booklet about it which also didn’t mention the color, but I was gratified to see the picture of the icon. It is said to be the first icon made by Luke which he presented to Mary. Tradition has it that three saints found it in the cave in 362. According to the booklet, the icon has miraculously escaped five disasterous fires of the monastery, the last of which was set by the Nazis after they threw the men of the monastery off the cliff to their death.