Friday, March 4, 2011

Moving On by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Moving On:  Creating Your House of Belonging With Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach is a collection of short reflective essays, mostly memoir based, in which she endeavors to teach spiritual truths within the framework of a woman’s home.  In other words, how the individual’s personal environment reflects the individual’s essential self.  For Breathnach, celebrating women includes, almost to the exclusion of all else, a celebration of homemaking.

This book is weakest when it is more subjective than objective.  When Breathnach writes about life being full of transitions (change) and the foyer of the home being a part of how we transition from the world into our homes, the book is not too bad.  When she is reflecting on her own transitions and struggles with change, her choice to be less candid reveals the deepest flaw in the text.  Whether she has “dug deep” in her own life, she is ever cautious about revealing too much about herself and this same superficial quality to her truth distorts the rest of the content so that what could be profound occasionally comes off as mostly trite.

I can appreciate her choice to not be overly self-disclosing but then why bother sharing a personal story at all?  Is it necessary to allude to things without really expressing their relevance?  Throughout the book I felt as though she were telling me so much but showing me so very little.  Other self-help writers have managed to present profound truths with practical suggestions without telling their whole life’s story and in trying to compromise by sharing some of herself Breathnach weakens the overall effect of the book.

Still, it’s not a bad book.  Clearly written for the upper middle class woman who has some time on her hands and is perhaps in a transition of her own, Breathnach’s book is a pleasant resource.  She encourages the reader to read it through, cover-to-cover, to get the gist of the text and then reread it more slowly to put into practice her recommendations.  To be honest, one read was enough for me.  I like some of her suggestions and have already begun putting them into practice.  No doubt, if I read more self-help books, I’d see the same suggestions made elsewhere.  So I give this book a tepid recommendation.  For the right reader at the right time, it’s probably wonderful but, in the end, it’s mostly fluff with very little meat.

One final note
In the past I have been very vocal about criticizing books for the poor scholarship in not properly citing quotes.  Breathnach is so guilty of doing this that I often wanted to stop reading altogether.  She quotes prolifically but never gives a page number and rarely gives a title for the article, book, or whatever resource she used to find the quotation.  I am going to continue taking offense to this until, I suppose, I become benumbed by the laziness of published writers and their editors.  In the meantime, I am automatically deducting one star from this book so what might have been a 3 star review (good enough to recommend) to a 2 star review (not recommended).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...