The latest from Karbo (The Diamond Lane, 1991, etc.), a witty and astringent take on motherhood, crackles with insights and humor in detailing a woman’s responses to her own first child—and to the pregnancy of her unmarried friend, who’s been wooed by a local blueblood.
Brooke, a former filmmaker married to Lyle, is besotted with six-month-old Stella. Like most new mothers, she’s in love with her baby. Stella made it all worthwhile, the pregnancy itself, which made you “an anarchist of the flesh, a truly dangerous woman” because the baby became your top priority, not your body, and even labor, which “between the excruciating moments could actually be quite boring.” Husband Lyle, though, like most men, is reluctant to change diapers or baby-sit, and he spends increasingly more time in the basement playing computer games. But for the moment Stella is completely and absorbingly hers, and Brooke is eager to share her knowledge and experience when she learns that single friend Mary Rose is pregnant. Brook and Mary Rose, best of buddies, also share a devotion to their hometown basketball team, and once, on a girls’ night out, had a drink with two players. It was an action with unanticipated consequences. Mary Rose thinks wealthy Ward, Brooke’s cousin, is the father of her baby-to-be, and Audra, Ward’s mother, is eager for the two to marry so she can become a grandmother. But Ward, a handsome coward, soon has to disclose hitherto hidden impediments to the marriage—not something pleasing to Mary Rose, who finds herself suddenly caught up in a prenatal custody suit. The earlier-than-expected birth of Patricia changes everything, and though Ward’s unhinged brother Dicky tries to kidnap the infant, Mary Rose is as fierce a mother as Brooke, who’s been prepping her for the big moment from the start.
A sometimes-strained storyline, but Brooke’s infectious verve and wry commentary on mothers and fathers—as well as on men and women—more than compensate.