CHILDSONG by Barbara Wood


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It's 1963 and amazing things are happening in Tarzana, California where the uptight Catholic matrons are allowing themselves Jackie Kennedy pill-box hats: young Mary Ann McFarland, a 17-year-old virgin, is pregnant. Nobody believes she's a virgin, of course, and even her gynecologist Jonas Wade doubts the test of ""technical"" virginity. Did Mary really conceive in a dream just before Easter, when St. Sebastian--the naked figure with all the arrow wounds--seemed to come down out of the stained glass of St. Sebastian Catholic Church? An Easter conception, of course, means a Christmas birth, and Father Lionel Crispin is shocked that Mary persists in refusing to acknowledge her mortal sin. But when Dr. Wade learns that Mary was nearly killed in her swimming pool when an electric cable fell in, he connects this with studies on parthenogenesis in frogs and rats--whose eggs were stimulated into cell division by electric shocks. Suddenly Wade is on fire, ready to write up one of the most unusual cases in the annals of medicine; he also figures that since parthenogenesis seems to be a 500,000-to-one possibility (compared to 50-million-to-one for the Dionne quintuplets), haven't there been other, unnoticed ""virgin"" births? And meanwhile Mary endures her stormy pregnancy--during which her family's domestic secrets emerge. And finally the McFarlands--now better for their trials--are content to raise Mary's baby girl, an unusual gift from God. More quasi-science essay than religious/occult fantasy: far from convincing, but admirably unsensationalized and steadily engrossing.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0595433308
Publisher: Doubleday