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Peace and Plenty: A Review of Sarah Ban Breathnach's latest book

Updated on August 10, 2012

When I saw Sarah Ban Breathnach on Oprah several weeks ago, I was excited, then shocked. I was excited because I had loved her previous books Simple Abundance and Something More. But I was shocked to learn that she had lost all the millions she had made from those super successful books. She was now living with her sister, and was promoting her latest book Peace and Plenty which was about "finding your path to financial serenity."

Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance is a real treasure and taught me so much. Like how to find joy in the simplest pleasures of life. It got me (and millions of others) to start a gratitude journal. It made me keep a better house, be a better cook, and I think, be a better person. At the time that I read that book, I had left my teaching job and was a full-time mom. It was the right book at the right time and it left me with lessons that would last a lifetime. Millions of readers felt the same way I did about Simple Abundance and Ban Breathnach went on to achieve amazing financial success. After hearing that Ban Breathnach had lost all her money, and had seemingly strayed away from the very tenets that her book Simple Abundance had taught, I was very interested to hear about her journey in Peace and Plenty. But Peace and Plenty, although full of plenty of stories, quotes, and pieces of advice, ironically left me wanting something more.

I was thrilled to pick up a copy of Peace and Plenty because I was hoping to read more of Sarah's personal story. I wanted to learn how and why she abandoned all of her simply abundant treasures like tea towels and farmers' market finds---to end up with several assistants and pairs of designer shoes, and living in Sir Isaac Newton's former chapel. But throughout Peace and Plenty, Ban Breathnach only scratches the surface of the reasons for her financial downfall. She admits she is "still searching for the definitive answer" for her actions and wonders if she felt she didn't deserve success. I wanted to know how her third husband was able to squander away all of her money without her even noticing it while it was happening. I wanted to know how such a successful, savvy woman-- a woman who had previously been so content with the simple pleasures of a few good cookies and a cup of tea --could spend so much money without keeping track of any of it. I wanted more insight into Ban Breathnach's thoughts and feelings during these financial fiascos.

Peace and Plenty is loaded with advice about how to keep your money by being thrifty, spending less and being aware of your finances (lessons Sarah learned the hard way). There are anecdotes, quotes, excerpts and examples from a plethora of sources---everyone from Victorian era writers to Miss Piggy to Sarah's friends to Maya Angelou to Margaret Thatcher. They are all thought-provoking, but I found myself wanting to hear more from Sarah. In one of the chapters, there is dialogue from the movie Million Dollar Baby, about "the truth". Although Ban Breathnach definitely tells the truth about what happened in her own life, I wanted more about how and why it all happened. I still don't know. And I don't think the author does either. That said, the book is rich in so much. It covers topics about money beyond the bottom line and necessary to achieving true abundance---topics such as family legacy, shame, contentment and having the courage to be rich. It includes poetry and humor but also addresses heartbreaking subjects like divorce and job loss. It details banking, financial advice and how to protect yourself as well. Once again Ban Breathnach suggests journaling and encourages many of the same spirit-building ideas that Simple Abundance suggested.

I am glad that I read Peace and Plenty. But I am hoping that Ban Breathnach will come out with another book one day, one that selects just her story from this intricate weave, details her fall from grace, and highlights the thoughts behind her courageous comeback. Her readers could benefit from that story. That is where the path to financial freedom would tuly begin.

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    • tamron profile image

      tamron 4 years ago

      Based on what you wrote here. It sound like she got ripped off because of denial. She did not want to believe the man she loved was stealing her money.

      I also believe the more money she made the more reckless she got with her money.

      She thought it was a never ending flow of money that will never stop coming.

      She better write anther book. That will pay for all the taxes she will owe.

      Vote up & Share

    • g-girl11 profile image
      Author

      g-girl11 4 years ago

      Exactly! Denial is a dangerous thing. She did mention in the Oprah interview that she thought the money would keep flowing. I love her books and they are very helpful, but I am now most intrigued by her amazing personal story and do hope she will one day write more about it.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 4 years ago from Canada

      I, too, am a big fan of Sarah Ban Breathnach's writing. It is always interesting to get to know the writer behind the stories, and learn what were their personal struggles.

    • g-girl11 profile image
      Author

      g-girl11 4 years ago

      I agree, RedElf. I hope she'll come out with another book that just outlines her struggles. I think it would be so helpful to her readers to learn from her! Thanks for reading.

    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 2 years ago from France

      I have this book too, and though I haven't read it from cover to cover, unlike her previous books, I can't help but agree with everything you say about this particular book. I'd love to find out more and hopefully understand the full lessons (I hope) she has learned from this period in her life. Thanks for sharing. :0)

    • g-girl11 profile image
      Author

      g-girl11 2 years ago

      Thanks for reading and for commenting DreyaB. I am such a fan of Breathnach's and feel she could offer us the greatest lessons of all if she'd share more of herself.

    • profile image

      Insight 24 months ago

      Honestly I was close them at the time and I can offer some insight. Sarah Ban Breathnach recklessly squandered her fortune. Her husband, albeit a cad, didn't spend her money for her, rather just got what he could while the getting was good. Apart from expensive wine, the maintenance on a somewhat classic car he already owned when he knew her, and a golf club membership I doubt her husband spent much of her money. In fact she spent far more money on her daughter. She on the other hand purchased things incredibly foolishly with a money is no object mentality. Expensive things are only an investment when you obtain them at a good price. Sarah purchased such luxuries as antique furniture, the telegrams from the Titanic, and her house in England all at astonishing price far above their real value. She continued this behaviour until there was little left and what was was wrapped up in goods rather than liquid cash. I've seen it happen before with other people, they get a few million and think that they're set for life, and while this is true, these days it's only true if one lives a rather ordinary middle class lifestyle. The problem is when people believe having a few million makes them super rich and act like it. A million might have seemed like an absurd amount of money in your childhood, but things change. Honestly I think Sarah is somewhat delusional, there are parallels to be made between her marriage and her spending, she made decisions with unrealistic, she married a man who'd been married many times previously and had little possessions of his own and expected him to be prince charming leading to a fairytale ending, likewise she spent money incredibly optimistically, always believing her next one would be a worldwide best-seller and that everything was guaranteed to rise in value. The fact that her marriage broke up around the time of the global economic recession is no coincidence methinks. Blaming her husband is such a cop out thing to do in the 20th century, she's an adult, she should have either married someone more down to earth or handled her relationship issues as and when they arose rather than running away from them. I'm afraid Sarah suffers from an artist's temperament, withdrawn, unrelatable, and living on cloud nine.

    • g-girl11 profile image
      Author

      g-girl11 24 months ago

      Wow! Very interesting information! I admired her so much after reading Simple Abundance and sincerely hope she is now following her own advice from that book. Hard to believe someone who wrote about finding happiness in the little things would spend on her money on big things, and still not be happy. I hope she has been able to finally find her happiness as she really did help me to find mine!

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