TRYING by Emily Phillips


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A young British woman struggling to conceive faces numerous disappointments in this emotional and surprisingly humorous debut.

Olivia and Felix have recently moved to the suburbs of London in anticipation of beginning a family. In their early 30s, they expect that conceiving a baby should be fairly straightforward. When many months pass without a positive pregnancy test, they both feel the strain of their unrealized dreams. As sex becomes more of a chore than an expression of devotion, the couple’s marriage suffers. Olivia dives more deeply into her position at the Swedish lifestyle company where she works despite the fact that she feels consistently underappreciated there. Meanwhile, it seems her every friend is popping out multiple babies with ease. As she and Felix suffer the barrage of Instagram baby brags and the indignity of fertility apps directing them to fornicate at a moment’s notice, they grow increasingly frustrated. Even so, both characters seem to get in the way of their own baby-making goals. Felix continues to disappear on long business trips, precluding the possibility of coupling on certain optimal days, and Olivia refuses to give up drinking or even visit a doctor to discuss fertility until deep into the novel. As baby-making, or the lack thereof, sends Olivia’s life on a downward spiral, she wonders whether procreating is worth such distress. Told from Olivia’s perspective, the story contains many slapstick moments that provide much-needed relief from the more difficult topic of infertility. Olivia struggles to fit in at the office as well as in her social circle, a group that is becoming increasingly baby-dominated. The author also pokes fun at the uber-trendy nature of the Scandinavian company where Olivia works, from the futuristic furniture to her frighteningly handsome supervisor. Told in an accessible and fast-paced prose full of British humor, the novel feels almost like a collection of blog posts about the difficulties of TTC. Despite the lighthearted nature of the language, there is a depth of emotion to the story that will leave readers deeply moved.

A promising debut that provides an honest and raw examination of the destructive nature of unrealized dreams.

Pub Date: Dec. 18th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4736-6380-0
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2018


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