A San Francisco Chronicle Lit Pick
"Much of the book is astonishingly funny; the rest would break your heart." —Colm Tóibín
Anne Enright is one of the most acclaimed novelists of her generation. The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize, and her follow-up novel, The Forgotten Waltz, garnered universal praise for her luminous language and deep insight into relationships.
Now, in Making Babies, Enright offers a new kind of memoir: an unapologetic look at the very personal experience of becoming a mother. With a refreshing no-nonsense attitude, Enright opens up about the birth and first two years of her children’s lives. Enright was married for eighteen years before she and her husband Martin, a playwright, decided to have children. Already a confident, successful writer, Enright continued to work in her native Ireland after each of her two babies was born. While each baby slept, those first two years of life, Enright wrote, in dispatches, about the mess, the glory, and the raw shock of motherhood.
Here, unfiltered and irreverent, are Enright’s keen reactions to the pains of pregnancy, the joys of breast milk, and the all-too-common pressures to be the “perfect” parent. Supremely observant and endlessly quizzical, Enright is never saccharine, always witty, but also deeply loving.
Already a bestseller in the UK, Making Babies brings Enright’s autobiographical writing to American readers for the first time. Tender and candid, it captures beautifully just what it’s like for a working woman to become a mother. The result is a moving chronicle of parenthood from one of the most distinctive and gifted authors writing today.
In Enright's only work of nonfiction, the Man Booker Prize winning Irish author (The Gathering) describes what it's like to become a mother at 37, 18 years into her marriage. The narrative veers from the hilarious ("Martin looks at me over the back of his chair. He gives me a thumbs-up, as if to say, Isn't this a blast? And there's football on the telly!" At 9.35 and 20 seconds I am, for the first time, in serious pain") to the brutally honest ("I never liked being around nursing women there was always too much love, too much need in the room") to pure wonder not so much at the miracle of the baby itself (although that is certainly present), but that she is a mother. And that she isn't half bad at it. In fact, she's good at it. The reader might wonder why she's so surprised at all this until the last chapter. And then we realize that this book, above all, is about the redemptive power of having children: by the end of the memoir, she is finally "completely happy."