The mum and dad of the world's first ""test-tube baby"" tell their story, in alternating chapters, and a soap-opera...



The mum and dad of the world's first ""test-tube baby"" tell their story, in alternating chapters, and a soap-opera humdinger it is. Both of them products of broken homes--she was carted from gran's to children's home to aunty's back to gran's; he lost his mother at age ten--they met in a dockside cafe when she was 16 and aching for independence, and he had been left with two small children by a departing wife. They slept in railway carriages and on grassy knolls in their native Bristol for a while; both were too quirkily individualistic to stick with jobs they didn't like. Through six years of living together unmarried and a couple of near-breakups (John strayed once and almost twice), they convinced themselves that Lesley's infertility resulted from ""guilt""; but when it persisted despite the sanction of an official wedding, doctors were reluctantly consulted. Several years passed under the depressing insistence that nothing could be done to unblock Lesley's fallopian tubes; finally--a hush-hush test-tube fertilization and implant by the now-famous Mr. Steptoe of Oldham, a meticulously monitored pregnancy, and the resulting baby Louise. Throughout the tale the Browns are utterly ingenuous: uneducated, unpretentious, and (one suspects) not overly clever, they speak in simple terms of gut-wrenching events (Lesley matter-of-factly punched a rival in the nose), harassment by the press, and their own ignorance. Amazingly, they did not know that they were the world's first until very nearly the end, when the media descended en masse; they took it for granted that some of Mr. Steptoe's earlier implants had been successful. Charmingly unguarded.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1979


Page Count: -

Publisher: Paddington--dist. by Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1979