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“I became myself in spite of her and because of her.”

My Mother's Daughter
by Rona Maynard

Buy the e-book!

Rona on her wedding day with her disapproving mother

Every woman will recognize aspects of herself in Rona Maynard’s clear-eyed memoir of the brilliant, devoted, fiercely controlling mother who shaped her life. Fredelle Maynard expected a stellar academic career, but found herself sidelined by her gender and forced to start over as a writer. She lavished her blocked ambitions on her daughters: Joyce, the pleaser, and Rona, the rebel. When Rona began to forge a promising career as an editor, Fredelle called her a neglectful mother. The criticism stung, yet for Rona there was no one funnier or more compelling than Fredelle. She looked forward to years of laughter and gossip on Fredelle’s couch, with endless cups of mint tea. Then Fredelle was stricken with a lethal brain tumor. At her death bed, Rona found permission to pursue a big, bold dream she had been keeping to herself.

My Mother’s Daughter is out of print, but you can buy the e-book at Amazon. Rona sells signed hardcover copies for $30 including postage, within Canada only. Sorry, no international orders—the postage would cost more than the book.

Praise for My Mother's Daughter

“A wonderfully honest and enthralling book.”
Alice Munro
“An alternately moving, exasperating and inspiring life story that radiates…both lingering tenderness and pain.”
The Winnipeg Free Press
“A fearless confession…. The beauty of Maynard’s book is that in taking us on her journey to understand her mother, she helps us with our own.”
The Hamilton Spectator
“Engrossing and eloquent.”
The National Post
“Maynard is a really wonderful writer.”
Kerry Clare, book blogger and author of Waiting for a Star to Fall

An excerpt from My Mother's Daughter

Weeks had passed since my mother could move or speak. “Talk to her,” the visiting nurse had said. “Hearing is the last sense to go.”

All my life I had been talking with my mother, and most of the time she took the lead. No one else I knew could tell such stories, or declared opinions with such pungency. Now my turn had come to do the talking. I took my mother’s hand, which the nurse had manicured to unnatural perfection. My mother should have had parsley under her fingernails, or a thin line of dirt from planting tulips. When no one was looking, she used to bite her nails to the quick. I stroked the soft place on her wrist where her watch had always been. “It’s me,” I said.

… What I said to her that day felt more like meditation than speech. One thought opened onto another like a series of doors swinging wide. Behind the last door I found a dream in which I won a job that took me to the top of my profession. I got there by doing what had always seemed too dangerous: competing against women of drive and talent. I became what I had never been before—a leader.

If my mother had been well, I would not have told her any of this. She would have engulfed me with reasons why I was the woman for the job and all the others mere pretenders. She would have prodded and advised. I needed to believe that this dream was mine, not hers, and fear of her torrential enthusiasm would have nailed my tongue to my mouth. I held her hand and spoke: “I’m feeling restless. I want a new challenge. I want to be the next editor of Chatelaine. What do you think?”

No point asking her that. It was a courtesy to her, or a salve to my own pain at seeing her immobile and silent. Then my mother squeezed my hand.