Question of the day: how can I find Fredelle Maynard's books?
Years ago I lent my copy of Raisins and Almonds to someone and never got it back. How can I replace it? I don't see your mother's books anywhere.
Raisins and Almonds has been out of print for years, along with all of my mother's books. But you can easily find a used copy online (I just checked alibris.com). You might also enjoy The Tree of Life, my mother's second, darker-toned memoir, in which she speaks frankly about life with an alcoholic husband.
I took this photo of my mother in 1972, when Raisins and
Almonds came out. She's with my son Ben, her adored first grandchild, and a few pieces of Mexican folk art from her travels. Her marriage has just ended (that's one of my father's paintings in the background). She's wearing a Mexican necklace that I inherited much too soon. In another few months she'll turn 50.
She believes she'll be alone for the rest of her life, that no man could possibly be interested in a woman her age, whose one great love proved such a harsh disappointment. But she's about to meet someone who will change her mind. Then the set of her mouth will soften, and she'll give up the lacquered hairdo for a perpetually wind-blown look.
Raisins and Almonds was not my mother's first book. She had already published a book on raising creative children, inspired by her years at home with my sister and me (she was planning to revise it at the time of her death). But it was Raisins and Almonds that changed her life by affirming her sense of herself as a storyteller. An immediate best-seller in Canada, the book won her a community of fans. Some of them still accost me on the street to tell me how much it meant to them.
If Raisins and Almonds had been published in any other year, it would have been a defining event for our family. As luck would have it, other events upstaged my mother's memoir. I was too preoccupied with Ben and the apparent demise of my marriage to think about Raisins and Almonds. Besides, we had a new literary star in the family: my teenage sister Joyce, who was hotly pursued by New York publishers for the memoir that became Looking Back.
My mother had mixed feelings about all this. She was terribly proud of Joyce, and also a little jealous. Raisins and Almonds represented years of work squeezed between the magazine pieces that paid the bills. And here was Joyce, an overnight sensation. But then, our mother always wanted to raise creative children. After all, she wrote the book.