Peace and Plenty: A Review of Sarah Ban Breathnach's latest book
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 which was about "finding your path to financial serenity." Peace and Plenty
Ban Breathnach's book 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. Simple Abundance
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.