Reviews of His Mother! Women Write about Their Mothers-in-law with Humor, Frustration, and Love A Must Read for Every Mother-in-law It is with irony that the two weeks that I spent with my two sons and their families I happened to be reading His Mother! compiled and edited by Sandy F. Richardson. It was a stunning revelation for me to realize that one of my daughters-in-law compared me to the mother-in-law (MIL) character of Marie Barone played by Doris Roberts on the hit show Everyone Loves Raymond. I thought I was passing on pearls of wisdom. But instead I evidently fall into the camp of the mothers who can find no fault with their male off-spring and think the women who caught them should be forever grateful. Sandy Richardson starts off her series of eighteen vignettes by an equal number of professional writers with a splendid introduction. She reminds us of the various names used to refer to a mother-in-law. “From birth to grave and beyond in France, no woman holds more power over a French son than his mother,” according to Barbara Pasquet James. Thus a mother-in-law is known to his wife as his belle mre. And yet the beautiful mother-in-law tongue plant (Monstera delicica of sansvieria) is poisonous and should never be touched. One entry by Kirsten Guenther tells us of her MIL addicted to Disney themes with command performances expected by all family members. Kathryn Etters Lovatt remembers an ageless Montana homesteader “who could sit at the table with a piece of toast and a home canned peach and never need to utter a word.” Susan Doherty Osteen writes a touching tribute to her Southern MIL who knows all the social rules of etiquette and never forgets a name or an interesting fact due to her extensive pocketbook of note cards. Other writers share similar memories of the culture of the South which emphasize manners, flowers on the dining room table, the three-day-rule, and no bottles or condiments anywhere but in the kitchen cabinets. Accounts of the impractical gifts that could never be used—the warm hugs that were never for you—the compliments that were never paid—are also interspersed. I am reminded of a quote by Bernie Siegel who said that on the day his father and three brother and two sisters stood around their mother’s dying bed, she uttered her last words: “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.” The book, His Mother is a tribute to both the mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law of the world and reminds all of us to do the same. Brenda Bevan Remmes, author of The Quaker Café Series available on Amazon, Everything Happens at the Crossroads and her tribute to her own mother-in-law, Emma.
Love her or hate her. You don’t get to choose your mother-in-law. The authors of the short stories in this book give testimony about their own experiences with their mothers-in-law (and, yes, one author had three to write about!) In doing so, they shed a little light on how good, how bad, and how all too complicated the mother/daughter by marriage relationship can be. Readers of His Mother! Are likely to laugh a little, sigh in recognition, and shed some tears as they explore these relationships. If you have your own mother-in-law experience or think you ever will, I recommend reading. I enjoyed the book a lot but was especially pleased at how vivid the descriptions of place were and what insights they offered about cultural norms and expectations. Some of the mothers-in-law were iconic southern belles; others city dwellers. Readers will get to know a Polish immigrant whose family died at Auschwitz in Colette Inez’s “Mamaleh’s Lament” and taste the food and respect the wisdom of a southern African American welcoming a white daughter-in-law in Kathy China’s “Lessons in Miss Thelma’s Kitchen”. Two of my favorites were the western women: a Kansas barmaid who thought she married money but made the best of it when her husband lost it all in Margaret Bell’s “Family Time” and Kathryn Lovatt’s “Marion” about a tough Montana rancher who had served as a nurse in WWII. These prairie women will make you proud. So read the book; pick your favorites. And be relieved that a few of these ladies are not your own mothers-in-law. Patricia Willer,
Yep, that's her! A mother-in-law that gives you a wig that looks like a squirrel? A mother-in-law that always finds fault? A mother-in-law that takes you under her wing and treats you more like a daughter than an enemy? They are all here along with the personal stories that bring laughter, tears, and tons of frustration. Whatever your mother-in-law was or is, you'll find her here, and you'll say, "Yep, that's her." By Dave T
Kudos! The very talented Sandy Richardson has compiled a 'Dear Diary' about Mothers-in-law, as submitted by true to life daughters-in-law that exposes the good, the bad and the ugly of these stressful marital relationships. Yep, all of us daughters-in-law can find our own personal experiences in these tender, happy, sad, and sometimes horrifying stories about the full gamut of personalities. Don't get me started on my own personal experience. There is not enough time! Kudos to Sandy and all of the contributors. By Patricia Fero, author of www.queenmotorhome.com, www.TheReunion.com
Reviews for The Girl Who Ate Chicken Feet From Publishers WeeklyThe many charming moments in Richardson's inaugural novel read more like a collection of southern tall tales, with 10-year-old Sissy at the center. The author's homespun mix of story lines about a goose, Gypsies, patent-leather shoes, the civil rights movement and various sketches about colorful 1960s South Carolina townsfolk, at times, has the effect of making Sissy into an observer in her own book. This is not a novel for readers who require a straightforward plot, but rather for those who wish to put up their feet and sit a spell. A few plot threads trail off or pick up so far down the line that they're frayed; for instance, the opening chapter mentions trouble "[having] to do with the colored people down in Mississippi and Alabama," but not until the very end does the family cook, Elease, suddenly leave to join the civil rights movement. Bittersweet tales join comic ones: Sissy and her friend have their fortunes told by a band of Gypsies (who threaten to take Sissy's baby brother as payment); Sissy's cousin Delores convinces her to break into the church to help her pray for a baby sister to come; and the protagonist and Big Daddy trip up some Yankees on a duck-hunting excursion. Those readers who enjoy an entertaining yarn will find plenty to satisfy them here. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.From School Library Journal Grade 4-8?With humor and compassion, Richardson recounts pivotal events in the life of a white girl in Midville, SC, in the early 1960s. Sissy learns lessons about honesty, kindness, and justice through her colorful experiences with a cast of entertaining characters. To cure the jealousy she feels for her new baby brother, Sissy bargains with a gypsy fortuneteller. To earn the black patent-leather, high-heeled shoes she covets, she agrees to help her grandmother raise chickens. To keep on the good side of her trouble-making cousin Delores, the girl joins in a secret church service praying for an Immaculate Conception for her aunt. To show her courage and independence, Sissy decides to make grits, walking the slippery trail to the mill to get corn ground and then struggling with the recipe. Throughout her adventures, unflappable adults such as Granny, Big Daddy, and their black cook, Elease, are prominent figures, offering wisdom and comfort. Sissy discovers that superstition and face-saving antics often hide deeper truths. Then, when her beloved, perceptive Elease finally leaves to join the civil rights movement in Alabama, Sissy realizes that change and growing up are inevitable. Although readers may not be acquainted with the story's milieu or the rumblings of racial unrest in the 1960s, they will find familiarity, humor, and insight in Sissy's early adolescent anxieties, desires, decisions, and discoveries. Lively regional dialogue, fast-paced storytelling, and vivid descriptions add charm and appeal.?Gerry Larson, Durham Magnet Center, Durham, NC Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.