Two Books by Lisa Scottoline Francesca Serritella, mother & daughter

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Note: Mother’s Day is coming up, so I plan to post several articles about mothers, so that you don’t have a Hallmark view of Mother’s Day as just a commercial gig to sell more cards and buy more gifts. es

Mothers & daughters have a unique relationship. I have two daughters and each of them is very different from the other and my relationship with each of them is very different, as well. In best friends, occasional enemies and meet me at emotional baggage claim by Philadelphia lawyer-turned-mystery writer Lisa Scottoline (line is pronounced leen-ie) and her 20 something daughter Francesca Serritella, their unique relationship comes through in their alternating postings taken from the Philadelphia Inquirer column on Sundays entitled “Chic Wit,” aptly named, and essays inspired by the columns. best friends, occasional enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter was published in 2011 and is filled with wonderful stories and essays signed by Lisa and by Francesca.

What comes through all of their quips and insights on life is their refreshing honesty with each other and with their audience. For example, in “Love and Worry,” from best friends, occasional enemies, Lisa Scottoline writes about her “scientific theory” that love and worry are the two bonds that tie mothers together. (I agree!) Lisa also notes that motherhood has no expiration date, while daughter Francesca notes that her mother is always right, and if you don’t believe her mom, just ask her! (My mother used to say, “I may not always be right, but I’m never wrong.” How illogical is that? es) In “Getting it Straight,” Lisa writes about straightening her very curly hair and after much ado, her daughter asks her why she doesn’t wear it curly and be herself. Au natural. Lisa said she would consider that and her last line is perfect: “Sometimes it takes a kid to straighten out her mom.”


meet me at emotional baggage claim, taken from the Chic Wit columns in The Philadelphia Inquirer, was published in 2012, when Lisa’s daughter was 25 and living in New York City, while Lisa remained in Philadelphia. Lisa’s mother, Mother Mary died a few weeks ago, so the column reprints also include conversations with Mother Mary, since both books were released before her recent death. Mother Mary is a “main character.”

Since each of the “chapters” is actually a column, the topics vary from discussing holidays to describing Lisa’s operation for a bunion on her left foot. These postings are also quite funny, especially the dialogues between Lisa and Francesca and between Lisa and Mother Mary. Lisa talks a lot about her being single after two divorces from Thing One and Thing Two. So dating is an ongoing topic, as it is with daughter Francesca.

What comes through the whining, complaining, and bantering among the three generations is love personified. The family is close knit and includes brother Frank. (Lisa Scottoline’s father died about 12 years ago.)

After reading this book, I feel as though I know the family quite well and I also know that my relationship with my daughters is fraught with many of the same issues, which is comforting. Either Lisa Scottoline and I are both neurotic as Italian and Jewish mothers tend to be, or we are well within the norm.

However, on the last page of best friends, occasional enemies, Lisa Scottoline’s deepest feelings, neurotic or otherwise, come through when she writes, “Because when Francesca and I fuss, I can feel the power I have as her mother……Go first. You’re the mother, right? And the alleged adult. So say you’re sorry…… It’s not hard to take the first step when you remember how much you love her…. Love really is the answer.” I heartily agree.

If you have an adult daughter, this would make a great gift for you to give her on Mother’s Day. Or if you have a mom that is also a grandmother, she might also enjoy it. Either way, I am hooked on Chic Wit, in whatever incarnation it takes.

The books are published by St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2012 and cost about $25 each.