The Daughterhood paperback edition out February 25th

Second edition of the Daughterhood out February 25th

Now that Valentine’s Day is done and dusted, here in The Daughterhood HQ we’re turning our attention towards Mother’s Day on March 6th. And what better time to share the cover of the paperback edition of The Daughterhood, which is out on February 25th.

Second edition of the Daughterhood out February 25th

If you’re looking for a funny, moving and honest book this Mother’s Day, The Daughterhood is the perfect choice, if we may say so ourselves.

Next stop – Korea

Cover korea - cover 3

Another day, another cover. Just landed in The Daughterhood HQ, the Korean edition of The Daughterhood, published by Sol Bit Kil.

It’s always a delight to open a parcel and see the latest translation of The Daughterhood, but this stunning and highly-creative cover especially stood out.

The Daughterhood in Korea - the Korean cover

We’re sure that The Daughterhood will resonate with Korean mothers and daughters as it has around the world.


The Daughterhood reaches Italian shores

The Daughterhood reaches Italian shores - Scoprirsi Figlia

We recently visited Italy for our first language publication of The Daughterhood. It’s called “Scoprirsi Figlia” and it’s published by Odoya. Natasha gave interviews on national radio (helped by a translator of course) and she also spoke at a book festival to an audience of mostly Italian women. The huge interest in The Daughterhood by both the Italian media and the people that Natasha met further confirmed for us that the story of the mother-daughter relationship and the complexities that come with it is a truly universal one. It was really interesting to hear the women in the audience speak about the fact that Italian daughters don’t really get a look in compared to the adored Italian sons. But regardless of this, the daughters’ underlying wish to have a good relationship with their mothers was apparent. Just like the members of The Daughterhood.

The Daughterhood in Italy - Collage


Club der Töchter is coming to Germany

Club der Töchter - The Daughterhood translated into German

The Daughterhood has been translated into German and has been given the wonderful title of Club der Töchter. The Germans have great style, as is evident in the beautiful creative cover chosen by the publishers at Verlag Kiepenheuer & Wisch.

Cover of Club der Töchter - The Daughterhood


Club der Töchter will be available in all good German bookshops from March 10th, ahead of Mother’s Day in Germany.



The Daughterhood makes the cut in the Irish Book Awards

The Daughterhood Irish Book Awards

More good news for The Daughterhood – we were shortlisted in the Popular Non Fiction category in the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2015.

We had a great evening at the Book Awards. Ivan Mulcahy from Mulcahy Associates and Kerri Sharp from Simon & Schuster came all the way from London Town to join us. Although we didn’t win, we are proud to have been in the line-up and to have come this far. All in all, it was a great excuse for us to get dressed up in our glad rags and have a fabulous Stillwater night out!

The Daughterhood Irish Book Awards

In other news, Natasha is heading off to Rome next weekend to launch the Italian edition of The Daughterhood. The book will also come out early in the new year in Portugal, Korea and Germany.

VIDEO: Natasha speaks about The Daughterhood at IWD

Natasha speaks about The Daughterhood

“The Daughterhood came to me 5 years ago when my mother got sick … I had a total meltdown. I had a mini-crisis and I thought, “What the hell will I do if she dies on me?” 

       -Natasha Fennell speaking at the Accenture International Women’s Day event in Dublin about the circumstances that inspired The Daughterhood, and about the self-scrutiny and the events that followed. Watch the video below:

The wider context of the video can be watched here.

The Ten Commandments of Daughterhood

The Ten Commandments of Daughterhood

The Ten Commandments of Daughterhood

Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore as on-screen mother and daughter

When my mother was hospitalised with lupus six years ago, I was plunged into a bout of fear and panic. Fear that my mother would die and leave me behind, and panic about whether I’d been a good enough daughter. I began talking to other women and quickly learned that other daughters had similar fears. Love for their mothers, regret for opportunities missed, resentments and emotional complexities all bubbled to the surface. This confirmed that, for most women, their relationship with their mother is one of the most complex, enduring, infuriating, guilt-ridden and, if they’re lucky, joyous relationships of their lives.

The Daughterhood began: a kind of Daughters Anonymous, made up of nine daughters who came together once a month for six months to share their mother stories and do their Motherwork in order to try to improve their relationships with their mothers, before it is too late.

My Motherwork took the form of the Ten Commandments of Daughterhood:

1. Get to know her

As we grow up, the story of our mother is handed down to us through scraps of conversation, photographs and funny incidents told on a loop over dinners and family get-togethers. At least a version of the story gets handed down. The story of our mothers then gets stuck in one place. If there are gaps in the narrative, they don’t get filled. But when my mother dies, I want to know her full story.

I was always interested in my mother’s relationship with her mother. She lived with us in a granny flat beside the house and we all adored her. But, even as a young child, I sensed that there was tension between them. She was such a wonderful mother, had she had a good role model herself?

On another occasion, I asked my mother about her love life. It was a spontaneous conversation that kept us at the kitchen table in her house for hours. I listened to her as she drifted off into a reverie of remembered romances and flirtations. It reminded me that there are so many layers to her life and that I’m only one of them.

2. Travel with her

I used to do it all the time. On trains, buses, planes and boats all over the world. But since my mother got sick it has required a bit more planning. My mother’s biggest dream was to see the ice cliffs of the Antarctic, but her lupus meant that we had to downgrade on that one. So we set out to the Arctic to see the Northern Lights.

Our days in the Arctic were filled with amazing experiences. A week after we returned home, she contracted an infection and was back in hospital. “I don’t care that I got an infection,” my mother said from her hospital bed. “It was worth it.”

Travelling with your mother is a way of spending quality time on neutral territory. There are opportunities for conversations that you otherwise might not have.

3. Celebrate her

Celebrating my mother while I still can is a fundamental one of my Ten Commandments of Daughterhood. I have no clue how long she will be with us but I treat every birthday as if it is her last. I want her to know how much I love her for who she is and who she has become, both as a mother and a woman in her own right. Making a fuss of her on her birthday validates her. It is an expression of our love and admiration for her. She has celebrated us over the years, now it is our turn to celebrate her.

4. Cook with and for her

My mother doesn’t cook much on her own anymore but we love cooking together. A few months ago we cooked paella for the first time and another Saturday was spent learning from my mother how to cook the perfect Irish stew. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had with my mother are when we’re waiting for the potatoes to roast or the fish pie to bake.

5. Keep her up to speed

For our mothers, people who remember the days of mangles and one-digit telephone numbers, keeping up can be a nightmare. But technology can also have a hugely positive impact on their lives, so I think we owe it to them to lead the way. In my case it’s the blind leading the slightly blinder.

My mother now has an iPad, a mobile phone – she ditched the smartphone because she found it a pain – a Kindle, a Bluetooth speaker, a smart TV with Netflix, a laptop and a digital camera. She uses the iPad to watch Netflix in bed, the mobile phone to keep in touch with us and the Kindle to read books. She writes on the laptop, sends emails and Skypes my sister Kate in Turkey.

It hasn’t been easy introducing her to all this new technology but, in terms of her independence and enjoyment of life, it has been worth it.

6. Be patient with her

My mother, because of her condition, walks much slower than she did a few years ago. I’ve had to stop myself hurrying her along, especially if I was carrying two heavy shopping bags. It was an unconscious thing, but I used to walk ahead of her, looking back impatiently every now and then. The unspoken message from me to her was, “Could you go a little faster, Mammy?” Until one day I realised that this was putting her under pressure and I began walking alongside her so we could talk.

I know I can be the Busy Daughter sometimes but I try and take St Francis de Sales’ advice when he says: “Have patience with all things; but, first of all, with yourself.” I’d add – and with your mother.

7. Don’t be her doctor

If my mother had a rattle in her throat, I would suggest she might need to go to hospital. If she tried to walk out to the garden, I would object on the grounds that she wasn’t able to do it. When I visited her, I’d tell her when to take her tablets and how many. If she wanted a glass of wine with dinner, I’d question whether it was allowed. I thought I was doing the right thing. The daughterly thing. It was only after a couple of weeks that my mother, at a low point and exasperated, told me that my ministrations were not helping. “I’m trying to figure this out myself, Natasha. Please give me the space to do that.”

My mother told me that her biggest fear is that her children will take control of her medical decisions, that she will be disarmed and left without any autonomy or control.

I’m not my mother’s doctor anymore but there is still a lot I can do for her: chat, plump up her cushions so her back doesn’t get sore. It’s about letting my mother take control and me taking a supporting role.

8. Let her interfere

If you have an aversion to your mother interfering, my suggestion might sound strange. I say, let her interfere. By that I mean, give her a hearing. Let her state her case, her opinions, her concerns.

“Tell me about it. Persuade me,” is something my mother often says when I tell her about a plan I have that she doesn’t agree with. “I might surprise you.”

This can be a difficult thing to do, especially when you know your mother isn’t going be 100 per cent behind your latest life plan. Letting her in might feel like the last thing you want to do. But instead of shutting her down, try giving her the space to say what she thinks. She might just surprise you and, even if she doesn’t, you’ve let her have her say.

9. Mind your mother language

The language we use when speaking about our parents as they age is a real bugbear of mine. And my mother’s. We “bring” them on holiday, we “send” them away on a break, and we “take” them shopping. We “get them” to take their medication. The worst one of all is we “pack her off” somewhere or another. We have developed the habit of talking about our mothers as though they are children.

This patronising tone has crept into all facades of life, from the media to our caring professions. It’s all in the tone and language used. “Are you ok there, pet?” “Can I get you a cup of tea, darling?” You know what I am talking about. Since when does everyone over 60 turn stone deaf and revert to childhood?

10. Plan her funeral

Over the years, even before she got sick, my mother has asked me and asked herself the question: burial or cremation? The first time was while we were watching Six Feet Under. I took one look at her and turned up the volume on the TV.

More recently, I’m the one who has started the conversation about what kind of funeral she wants. But since she’s been ill, it’s been increasingly important to me that I make sure everything will be as she wants it at the end.



RADIO: The Daughterhood on Radio NZ

The Daughterhood on Radio NZ

“Imagine if you could stand at your mother’s graveside and have no regrets… or at least very few. That is the absolute objective of The Daughterhood, the thing that we want for daughters all over the world.”

Natasha Fennell talks about all things Daughterhood on Radio NZ, telling Kathryn Ryan about the good, the bad and the guilty of mother-daughter relationships, and about what happened when she and eight other daughters came together around her kitchen table in Dublin.

Listen to the radio interview by pressing the play button on the left side of the player below:.

Five minutes with…Temper-Mental MissElayneous

The Daughterhood - Temper-Mental MissElayneous

Each week, we ask a daughter to give us an insight into their relationship with their mother. This week, we sat down with Elayne Harrington aka, Temper-Mental MissElayneous.

The Daughterhood - Temper-Mental MissElayneousList three things you do with your mother.

Reflect. We reminisce on the times she would take me to work with her because there was little or no childcare available (ironically, I accompanied her to Labour meetings where she herself was fighting for such rights). She made many a statement with my presence. I was important and she made me see that.

Discuss. We get into discussions about the tangible and the abstract; topics like the practicalities of feminism and the subtleties of misogyny. We converse on the exploitative and discriminating aspects of, what we, as two women from different generations, witness and experience socially. She wants to know my views in the context of modern feminism, although, I more than often refer to her own original teachings.

Resolve. We support each other in a variety of ways. She is consistent even when I am not and I practice consistency even when she ‘fails’ to. We have mutual respect and love for each other; loyalty and honour are necessary attributes that our connection bears. We have an egalitarian relationship. We like it, it works. We resolve any soreness aggravated by bonds that can cause friction and pinch. We seem to use them to evolve and reach understanding.

What characteristics do you share with your mother?

Fire – Phil is a hard worker, good at negotiating and at getting things done. She’s great in crises and has ambition and firmness. I didn’t lick that off a stone, as her father, my grandad would say. This is reflected in my creative and community endeavours.

Compassion -Tender kindness is in the fibres of my mother’s fabrics. Although it can be promptly charred with that above mentioned asset for the sake of the quality noted below. Another feature that is apparent in how I am with my peers and the young people I teach/guide.

Morality – My ma knows the story when it comes to what is morally right and wrong. She is flexible to change, yet seems to have been born with opinions. I bear this trait also.

What life lesson did your mother teach you?

Mam taught me to forgive always and never to submit. That’s been a fun paradoxical juggle thus far. Fortunately, my father and sisters taught me that there is a difference between submission and forgiveness.

Where do you fall down as a daughter?

I sometimes refer to her as ‘The aul’ dear’ but it’s in remembrance of my paternal grandmother so I know she doesn’t mind. She can comprehend the colloquial endearments of our turf. We were reared in the same working class town. We appreciate our own tongue. As a child, I once spelt ‘phrase’ as ‘fraise’. Surprised, she sternly corrected me (I was usually an excellent speller). I was reminded that her very name contained the same initial sound but did not start with ‘F’. Thanks, Philomena. I called her ‘Phil’ up to 12 years of age (but we really don’t view this as a ‘downfall’, more so unusual.) Same with my father, Paul. Referring to them by their birth names reminded us that they were human beings as well as their roles in the family unit!

How has your relationship changed with your mother over the years?

I was proud that she was my mother. I had patience then I had none. I gained more patience then lost some. I was tolerant and humble. I was impatient and haughty. I was sorry . I took it back. I was doubly sorry. I am proud that she is my mother, I am proud that I am of her flesh, blood and soul.

My mother makes me feel…

The way that warrants poetry to be written on that maternal bond, so I’ll end with this poem I wrote about her in 2007.

She Built Me a Sky

My mother conquered seas of grief.

It filled her days with rain.

She clutched a somewhat frail belief,

She crumbled under pain.

Comprised of words and thoughts and bloods

It seems, like any other.

I don’t deserve – I surely can’t,

This priceless gift – my mother.

She and I; we share one face,

Her details etched more clear.

She buried smiles for miles and miles.

Let mine stretch ear to ear.

When she had childish thoughts like mine, a clean white sheet to fill

She began to build a sky constructed of her will.

Planting all the strongest seeds,

Gladness fills my heart.

This blue sky that you painted allows clouds of my mind to part.