A brutally honest and sad testimony of a desperate desire for motherhood.



A woman’s struggle to conceive redefines her capacity to love.

In a graphically detailed, at times solipsistic memoir, Australian novelist Leigh (Disquiet, 2008, etc.) chronicles her efforts, over several years, to conceive a child. In February 2008, the author and Paul, her husband-to-be, visited a fertility clinic to assess their chances for pregnancy. First on their agenda was reversing Paul’s vasectomy, done years earlier after he had a son in a previous marriage. That procedure was only one among countless others: a test to determine Paul’s sperm count; tests clearing them as carriers of illnesses such as hepatitis, HIV, rubella, and syphilis; tests to ascertain Leigh’s hormone levels; and ultrasounds—all before Leigh began treatment to enhance ovulation. Meanwhile, the couple married, but soon the marriage fell apart. “He said I was relegating ‘Us’ to my insistent desire for a child,” she writes. “I couldn’t bear his deliberate procrastinating, his brooding, his rages. The weight of his reproach.” At first, he consented for her to use his sperm for in vitro fertilization; quickly, he changed his mind. “He didn’t think I should be a mother; I was too selfish; I didn’t know how to love,” writes Leigh. Adamant about not using a sperm donor, Leigh pleaded with Paul, struggled to find another donor among men she knew, and finally found a friend who agreed. Years of blood tests, injections, and scans—recounted in detail—resulted in several implanted blastocysts, none of which developed. Over and over, Leigh collapsed in disappointment, only to begin again, submitting her body to continuous manipulation. Paul once had nicknamed her Pollyanna Juggernaut due to her undaunted optimism, but reality finally set in. No matter what the mother’s age, she learned, assisted reproduction rarely results in pregnancy. “It’s an industry predicated on failure,” she realized, and she quit, vowing “to love widely and intensely.”

A brutally honest and sad testimony of a desperate desire for motherhood. 

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-29276-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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