All posts tagged: midwives

THE PULL OF THE STARS A historical novel that is strikingly similar to our current pandemic, set in 1918 Dublin, by the bestselling author of ROOM

By Leslie Lindsay  Pregnant women quarantined in a Dublin hospital during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Historical Fiction Spotlight Barnes & Noble Book Club choice for August Reader’s Digest Book Club Pick Australian Women’s Weekly Book Club Pick  Oprah Magazine Best Book of Summer 2020 Chapters Indigo Best Book of 2020 AudioFile Earphones award for the unabridged edition I’m always alert to the work of the the lovely and talented Emma Donoghue, especially since I fell in love with her disturbingly good, ROOM. The Pull of the Stars (New York: Little Brown; July 2020), seemed to be vying for my attention, whispering, “Read me, read me,” when I came across this historical fiction set in 1918 Dublin. For three days, we are midwives in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. There’s work, and risk and a claustrophobic sense of the world browning at the edges; and yes, it has so many parallels with today’s pandemic. In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse …

From cradleboards to ‘firking like a flounder,’ wet nurses, and more, Sarah Knott unravels the history of mothering in MOTHER IS A VERB

By Leslie Lindsay Timely and fascinating investigation and examination of what it means to be a mother–from the early 15th century through present-day.  MOTHER IS A VERB: An Unconventional History (FSG/Sarah Crichton Books) by Sarah Knott is such a sweeping piece of historical, personal, and lyrical research. It begins with the author’s decision to have children, and thus an examination of who has children and who doesn’t. This is a keenly researched book that is part-memoir, part-history lesson, and to some, it might come across as academic (Knott is, by profession, a college professor at Indiana University). That said, I found the anecdotes and archives presented fascinating and intriguing. The structure of MOTHER IS A VERB is not linear, but rather divided into topics from pregnancy, quickening, miscarriage, labor/delivery, early days, sleeping infants (sleeping parents), including co-sleeping (or not), types of beds, feeding/breastfeeding/other types of nourishment, clothing, and even welcoming the second child. Scattered throughout the narrative are glimpses of the author’s mothering journey, which I felt helped to personalize historical context. Knott’s writing is scholarly, but also companionable. It’s lyrical and …