When Ann Leary and her husband, then unknown actor-comedian Denis Leary, flew to London in the early nineties for a brief getaway during Ann's second trimester of pregnancy, neither anticipated the adventure that was in store for them. The morning after their arrival, Ann's water broke as they strolled through London's streets. A week later their son, Jack, was born weighing only two pounds, six ounces, and it would be five long months before mother and son could return to the States.
In the meantime, Ann became an unwitting yet grateful hostage to Britain's National Health Service -- a stranger in a strange land plunged abruptly into a world of breast pumps and midwives, blood oxygen levels, mad cow disease, and poll tax riots. Desperately worried about the health of her baby, Ann struggled to adapt to motherhood and make sense of a very different culture. At once an intimate family memoir, a lively travelogue, and a touching love story, An Innocent, a Broad is utterly engaging and unforgettable.
While pregnant, Leary, a television and film writer, fantasized about the birth of her son: it would include a home birth ("I would realize that there was no time to make it to the hospital"), an easy delivery (an "evening on our bed, laboring and breathing"), and, of course, a healthy child ("a beautiful, plump baby that my husband would triumphantly slide onto my bare belly"). This fantasy, Leary admits, occasionally included "a handsome fireman who was called upon in a moment of panic." Needless to say, it didn't happen that way. On a weekend trip with her husband, comedian Denis Leary (who was still relatively unknown at the time), to London in 1990 during her second trimester, Leary's water broke. No home birth, no healthy baby, no fireman. With a light touch and comic flair, Leary recounts the five months in London surrounding her son Jack's birth (they had to wait until Jack was more developed to travel back to the U.S.). Forgoing the gory medical details, Leary focuses on her life in and around the hospital and her na vet about childbirth and parenting. Her cultural observations are especially droll, as Leary sorts out that "tea" is actually a meal and tries to prove that Americans aren't stupid: "I tried to look intelligent, but... I had nothing to read or even to look at, so I narrowed my eyes and stared at my fingernails, in what I hoped was a thoughtful way." Oddly, the one thing missing from the narrative is her husband, who plays a surprisingly small role. Still, this memoir is an easy read that finds the humor in this trying time in Leary's life.
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The good house
I read an Innocent a Broad after reading the good house, & now I know where Hildy's basement came from & her attitude was a bit like your Mom's and you. I see you both in the book that I love so much. I'm a big reader but never read a book twice. But I find myself going to favorite chapters and re reading. You put so much of your life and honesty, then weave in your story. Please write another book SOON. I loved Hildy & her character of friends. So nice to read a book about someone a little older with some gusto. What a GREAT ENDING...I loved it.
Ann! Please write another book as fast as you can!
Good House was amazing! I texted the below to My friends:
"The Good House" by Ann Leary. You will NOT be able to put this book down! I finished it today, have been plotting since I started it to find ways to sneak away to read it.