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I focus on books about unhappy mothers and people who don’t want to be mothers. Sign up to be notified when there’s a new post.


Beloved

Toni Morrison, 1987 This is a novel widely regarded as one of the best ever written. I whole-heartedly agree. Not only is the story itself incredibly moving, every single character is compelling and well-developed, the sense of place and history is more vivid than any novel I can recall, and the prose is absolutely stunning.…

Reply To: Vulture

My thoughts on a recent interview on Vulture. With things like interracial marriage, or gay marriage, or immigration rights, or any number of things, you can see big opinion shifts in America in the span of a few years or even months sometimes. But it seems like Americans have made their mind up on abortion.…

The Bell Jar

By Sylvia Plath, published 1963 This is an extract from my doctoral thesis, in which I analyze several novels on the theme of fertility rights. In The Bell Jar, Plath sets up a world that is familiar since her protagonist struggles to access contraception. However, unusually, Esther expresses fear of pregnancy and believes her entire…

The Business of Birth Control

Documentary, screened with The Trouble Club at The Vagina Museum, London19 October, 2022 Members of the Trouble Club (like me!) were invited to a screening of a new documentary, The Business of Birth Control, from Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake. The filmmakers describe it as an examination of “the complex relationship between hormonal birth control…

The Men

By Sandra Newman, published 2022 I stumbled on this book while perusing Libreria near Shoreditch. While it isn’t exactly about motherhood, it caught my attention because it’s probably one of the most conventional versions of a feminist dystopia you can imagine: all the men in the world – poof! – disappear. At first the world…

Animal

By Lisa Taddeo, published 2021 I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase “tour-de-force” but it’s what comes to mind with this book. I initially had a difficult time getting into the novel because the narrator is a bit strange and probably a mentally ill. Joan is a bit like Eleanor Oliphant except that she…

Goodbye, Ramona

By Montserrat Roig, 1972; translated 2022 by Maria Cristina Hall and Megan Berkobien I had the pleasure of discussing this book with one of the translators, Maria Cristina Hall, at the invitation of its publisher Fum D’Estampa Press. Until this year, I had not heard of Montserrat Roig, and as this is the first translation…

I Lock My Door Upon Myself

‘Oh–but I didn’t really want them, I thought you did.’ By Joyce Carol Oates, 1990 This book had escaped me, although I’m a big fan of Joyce Carol Oates, until Mother Tongue magazine shared it on Instagram. It’s the story of Calla, told by her granddaughter in mythical-like tangents that keep you turning the pages…

All The Lovers In The Night

By Mieko Kawakami, 2022 Fuyuko is a proofreader who works from home and becomes completely absorbed in her work. When she did work in an office, she was treated as an outcast, so her retreat into her home is something of a relief for her. As is typical in Kawakami’s work, weather plays a major…

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