The School for Good Mothers

By Jessamine Chan, 2022 I wanted to love this book. It’s title and description promises precisely the kind of work I am calling for in my PhD thesis: stories that tell the truth about motherhood, that call into question the so-called “maternal instinct.” And this novel does exactly those things. However, an important aspect ofContinue reading “The School for Good Mothers”

The Lost Daughter

By Elena Ferrante, published 2006 (translated by Ann Goldstein) This book has received new attention lately thanks to a film version released on Netflix, starring Olivia Colman and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. The story features middle-aged Leda on a beach holiday, who becomes mildly obsessed with another vacationing family — particularly a young mother andContinue reading “The Lost Daughter”

(M)otherhood

By Pragya Agarwal, published 2021 I added this book to my TBR pile because of the title (which is the broad category of my research), and the fact that the description includes “reproductive justice.” (M)otherhood was not quite what I expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Pragya Agarwal provides plenty of scientific data alongside herContinue reading “(M)otherhood”

Giving Birth

From Dancing Girls and Other Stories, by Margaret Atwood, 1977 This short story is a brilliant meditation on the language we use for pregnancy, birth and motherhood, but also a study of the (much discussed) transformation that takes place when a person has a child. Rachel Cusk discussed this in her book, A Life’s Work,Continue reading “Giving Birth”

What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About

Ed. by Michele Filgate, 2019 I was immediately intrigued by the title of this book, and have been looking forward to reading it for months. It is a collection of essays by established writers about their relationships with their mothers. Most of those relationships are fraught, but not all. Some have overcome serious complications andContinue reading “What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About”

The Dying Animal

By Philip Roth, published 2001 I finished reading this book a few weeks ago, but I have had trouble formulating an opinion that isn’t tainted by my visceral dislike for the narrator. David Kapesh (a character from an earlier Roth novel) is evidently an attractive middle-aged man who left his wife and child in theContinue reading “The Dying Animal”

Revolutionary Road

By Richard Yates, published 1961 This is a novel many people know, if only for the broad strokes. Due to my area of research (and interest), I am going to consider it in terms of April’s desire to not have children and the supposed implications of her own childhood. April is a mother of twoContinue reading “Revolutionary Road”

The Farm

By Joanne Ramos, published 2019 The Farm is a place where surrogates for the super-rich live for nine months, kept safe and healthy — and under constant surveillance — until they deliver babies. They must adhere to an exercise regimen, play music for their bellies, and stick to a strict healthy diet. Jane, a singleContinue reading “The Farm”

Free Woman

By Lara Feigel, published 2018. Philippe Petit said “I found out that total creativity involves a certain intellectual rebellion…not to become a criminal, but…you have to do things that are a little bit forbidden. You have to feel free.” It seems that “doing things that are a little bit forbidden” is an important path toContinue reading “Free Woman”