Giving birth is a unique experience - no two women have identical
feelings and emotions, every birth is as individual as a set of
fingerprints, yet there is an intense bond between women who have
had children. The 22 stories in this anthology will strike a chord
with everyone who has ever been pregnant, had a baby or waited for
their partner to give birth. The full range of emotions is here -
the overpowering rush of love for the newborn, the suffocating pit
of post-natal depression, the fierce resentment the new mother
feels for the unfettered male and the devastation of stillbirth.
Some are fiction, some are fact, but these are all experiences that
could have happened to anyone expecting a baby. Some accounts
express the frustration of women losing control - this may be
because they're unable to have the birth they have longed for
(Judith Bryan's 'Deliverance'), because their partners are
incapable of understanding this intense new relationship (Jill
Dawson's 'The Twilight Zone') or simply because their pregnant
bodies don't follow the normal rules of behaviour. In 'The True
Body', the writer's waters break all over a department store floor,
yet she feels no shame, only regret that something so intimate is
to be washed away by a vacant shop girl with a mop. This acute
perception is common to all the stories - protective layers are
stripped away by pregnancy and birth, and in no story is this more
poignantly expressed than in Eva Sallis's 'The Kursk'. As the
author goes into labour, the 118 sailors on the trapped Russian
submarine are losing their fight for life. Successive rescue
attempts are abandoned and when she opens her eyes to gaze on her
new son, born during such a dreadful tragedy, she can only think of
those other mothers: 'They will never see their sons again. I can't
stop crying, looking down at mine.' This is a mesmerizing
collection, exhilarating and tender, joyful yet riven with sorrow
for those who have lost children, are unable to have them or have
to cope with disability. These accounts are moving yet
unsentimental - each writer has something new and exciting to say
about what is a universal experience. (Kirkus UK)
22 stunning tales of pregnancy, birth and beyond...Emily Perkins,
Polly Samson, Peter Carey, Julia Darling, Judith Bryan, Roddy
Doyle, Jill Dawson, Chandani Lokuge, Eva Sallis, Margo Daly,
Bridget O'Connor, Christopher Cyril, Alice Jerome, Bernard Cohen,
David Guterson, Kathy Page, Kathryn Heyman, Nikki Gemmel, Simone
Lazeroo, Hannah Fink, Nick Hornby, Rosie Waitt This highly varied
and vibrant mosaic of fiction and memoir by some of our finest
contemporary writers captures the individual and unique, as well as
the quotidian and universal, in the birth experience. As Kathy
Page's narrator puts it to her baby, 'You and I, the two of us,
moving on, but the same time going back, where everyone has been
before.' Here are the alterations of consciousness, the anxieties,
vulnerabilities and glories of mothers; the baffled and triumphant
perspectives of fathers. The full range of experience of new
parents has been included, so that along with the intensity, joys
and passions, there are still-births, unwanted pregnancies,
post-natal depression, resentment of the father (who is at least
able to slip out for a pint of Guinness - superbly captured in Jill
Dawson's 'Twilight Zone'), plus autism, feelingly described by Nick
Hornby. This is a moving and enlightening anthology, one to satisfy
the cravings of expectant parents, certainly, but also for everyone
else keen on fine prose and curious about the beginnings of life
for us all.
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