There is nothing quite like the bond between mother and daughter. But what happens to that bond when a mother and daughter are living on different sides of the world? We have discovered a reading group that connects mothers and daughters who cannot always be together. It is a group where members can share what they’re reading but it has become more that. It has become the glue that holds them together.
Set up in 1999, the mother-daughter reading group was formed as a way for children to keep in contact with their primary school friends. But as the years went by and members slowly found themselves in far corners of the world – London, New York, China, Italy – the group became a means through which mothers and daughters could keep in touch as well.
The reading list
The list of books they read spans genres and genders from different periods in history. It ranges from Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses to Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin via George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.
The book that proved most divisive was Kate Zambreno’s Heroines which prompted a fierce discussion about the changing of names upon marriage. So how exactly did that affect the group’s dynamics?
Well, this is a reading group, a place where debate is encouraged and respected. Sara Nathan, a mother in the group, remembers that from a young age her daughter and her friends, “learnt to reason, to back up their opinions with quotations and to not make wild assertions.” She felt that by having so many immediate relationships the group became a safe space to vent opinions, “It is certainly more revealing than restrictive.”
Time to talk
While the book group is first and foremost a chance to interrogate chosen texts, it also provides the opportunity to discuss any other issues that seem important and relevant to members. Sara explains that the second half of a meeting is always the time to catch up on news:
“In the early days we played wordy games, later mothers and daughters would gossip separately, then we became just one group. We have always extended our discussions into feminism, bullying and other issues as part of or after talking about the books.”
The book group not only prompts discussion but it encourages them to travel as well. Usually their meetings are conducted via skype, but recently the group has rendezvoused in Paris for their first non-virtual meeting. Who knows where they will end up next?
If you would like to join a reading group in your local area, you can locate your nearest group and find out whether they are looking for new members.
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