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”

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”

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”

Five Years (a personal essay)

Five years ago today, I arrived in London on a one-year student visa but with no intention of ever leaving. I first visited England in 2003. As an undergrad at Wilkes University, I worked in the English department. I made copies and sorted mail. One day the department received a poster for a study abroadContinue reading “Five Years (a personal essay)”

Dept. of Speculation

By Jenny Offill, published 2014 This is my second novel by Jenny Offill. The first was Weather, which I loved. I really enjoyed this novel as well, but the trouble with reviewing her books is that it’s difficult to pin down what they’re about. It’s also what makes reading them so fun. Offill has aContinue reading “Dept. of Speculation”