Tuesday, August 12, 2014

book review: Making Babies: Stumbling Into Motherhood by Anne Enright

The basics: Making Babies is Anne Enright's memoir of becoming a mother and the first two years of her two childrens' lives. Enright and her husband were together for 18 years before having children relatively late in life.

My thoughts: I remember wanting to read this when it first came out, but I put it in my virtual "wait until I'm pregnant" pile. When it arrived in the mail a few days after telling one of my best friends I was pregnant, I was ecstatic, and I knew it was exactly what I needed at that moment. As excited as I was to finally be pregnant, I was also somewhat ambivalent about it. I was nervous about all the changes pregnancy would bring, and Enright's words were reassuring in the best ways. She beautifully captures the joys, annoyances, and ambivalent moments of pregnancy and motherhood. Enright's irreverence, wisdom and humor shine through this memoir: "Humans give birth in pain so that they can’t run away afterward."

Although I'm not a successful novelist as Enright is, I shared some fear of losing myself in pregnancy and motherhood. How will I be a good parent and still be true to myself, I often wondered. Enright offers glimpses into this balance throughout this memoir (and she does so with two children, which is even more remarkable.) Writing in particular is an intellectually demanding career. Coherence while sleep-deprived is challenging. Enright traces the frustrating time through to her new normal, including drunken book tours without the baby.

After having enjoyed Enright's fiction (my review of The Forgotten Waltz), I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into her life. Her writing is gorgeous, in fiction and in non-fiction, and I would have enjoyed this memoir for its insights into life even if not reading it while on my own path to parenthood.

Favorite passage: "Do we need stories in order to produce emotion, or is an emotion already a story?"

The verdict: Making Babies confirmed I'm most interested in books about pregnancy and motherhood that are written by great writers.While there are lessons to be learned from this book, Enright's writing and refreshing honesty about the myriad of emotions and experiences of pregnancy and motherhood would enchant non-pregnant readers too. She beautifully taps into the truth of these life experiences with humor and grace.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 209 pages
Publication date: April 2, 2012
Source: personal copy

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Making Babies: Stumbling Into Motherhood from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds very good! I'm trying to think of other motherhood memoirs to recommend and only Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions and Shirley Jackson's books Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons come to mind!


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