Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Rules of Inheritance - a review

I've never done this here, but I couldn't resist an opportunity to do two of my favourite things - read a book and write about it for you while getting compensated a little. This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

I felt two things after reading Claire Bidwell Smith’s book The Rules of Inheritance: fear and envy.

Before I was a mother, I rarely thought long on my own mortality. I tried my best to stay in shape but also regularly sabotaged my life expectancy by smoking cigarettes, and drinking questionable quantities of red wine. When Deaglan was born, I realized for the first time that I cared about how long I lived. Because parenthood comes with it the fear of twin terrors - losing your children and having your children lose you.

After holding your baby for even that first second, it is unacceptable to imagine a life without each other.

In her memoir, Bidwell Smith recounts what it’s like to lose both of her parents by the age of 25, before even meeting and marrying her husband and long before giving birth to her daughter. I felt the sharp pain of her loss not only because I’d spent an entire lifetime losing people – my birth parents and sisters at age seven and then my brother at age 39 – but also because I read her story through Deaglan and Naveen’s eyes.

I lamented the prospect of leaving them before I could share in their wedding days, hold their babies, or simply, give them the kind of mothering grown men need. I felt the loneliness that would envelope my boys should they have to continue their journeys without us, Shaune and me, who exalted their arrivals into this world, dedicated every second from then on to their health and happiness.

And I felt envy.

I yearned for that kind of closeness - the kind Claire and Sally shared. I’d always dreamt of it, open honest relating without fear, only acceptance and wisdom. Some of my favourite parts of the book were when the author relayed bits of her mother’s journal, letters she’d written in preparation of her impending death, advice to her daughter based on a lifetime of learning: 

Have a plan, Claire, have goals, and I don't just mean material but spiritual as well. Get to know yourself deep, deep down, where no one knows you. Listen to that well, because that's who you are...Listen to your real voice...

I finished the book last night and breathed deeply. I missed my family even though they were laying in bed beside me, the littlest in his bed down the hall. I let the past stay where it was but I got ideas for the future. And because it was late, I did the only thing I could think of.

I kissed each sweet face and turned in for the night.


  1. Nice review. It sounds like an interesting book. I need to look into the Blogher book club. I love reading and it'd be fun to do once in a while.

  2. Do you know how much I love memoirs? That alone would make me love this book, and you described it in a way that makes me have to read it!

  3. you did an incredible job with the review. I have to add this book to my growing reading list

  4. Great review Kim! You're a pro at this too! I also have that same fear of leaving my children. This book definitely sounds like it would speak to me in many ways. Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. I know what you mean about missing your family even though they are close by. It's that sense of time ticking away. Great review Kim. I want to read this book.

  6. Wow...I think you should do reviews more often. This is the best one I've ever read. You have such a way with words.

  7. This books seems like just what I need right now! I love this sort of genre.

    You have a knack with doing book reviews my friend!

    Hope you are having a great weekend!

  8. Books like that remind us that we're alive and we're humans, with feelings. Great review and sometimes, yes, me must surrender and sleep. xo

  9. Nice review! Oh my - I am so on track with you. The older I get, I am not really afraid of dying anymore, but since having the boys - I am newly terrified because they need me so much! It is one of my freaked-out-don't-go-there thoughts that can keep me up nights with pointless worry.


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