Sensible and sensitive: a must read for every new mother.

READ REVIEW

LIFE AFTER BIRTH

WHAT EVEN YOUR FRIENDS WON’T TELL YOU ABOUT MOTHERHOOD

A reassuringly frank look at childbirth and motherhood by a writer and mother who persuasively suggests that, despite current conventional wisdom, having a baby does radically change a woman’s body and her life.

Drawing on her own experiences and those of others, as well as numerous studies and past practices, Figes (Because of her Sex, not reviewed) offers insights that inform and comfort. Describing the changing attitudes to children and motherhood, she notes that the view of the mother as solely responsible for her child’s well-being is a recent development, traceable to Rousseau’s Emile (1762). During the 20th century this notion expanded as birth control cut the size of families and as maternal health improved. Today mothers are considered responsible not only for their children’s physical well-being but for their emotional and intellectual development as well—and current child-centered notions of “good” motherhood are bound to wear out anyone who tries to satisfy all these unrealistic demands. The author notes how pregnancy and childbirth can cause long-lasting backache, incontinence, and depression. She also describes how, until recently, it was the universal custom for new mothers to enjoy a recovery period during which relatives and neighbors took care of their households and the new baby. Women have always worked, she observes, but they did not have to deal with the “huge cultural changes in the expectations of mothers and in the nature of work that has made it increasingly hard for women to feel as if they are good mothers when paradoxically they have probably never done a better job.” And she describes the overwhelming love most women feel for their children—an emotion that causes all sort of conflicts and concerns when they go back to work or leave the child with a sitter for a much-needed weekend away.

Sensible and sensitive: a must read for every new mother.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-26192-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A highly readable account of how solid research and personal testing of self-help techniques saved a couple's marriage after...

HOW NOT TO HATE YOUR HUSBAND AFTER KIDS

Self-help advice and personal reflections on avoiding spousal fights while raising children.

Before her daughter was born, bestselling author Dunn (Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo?: And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had to Ask, 2009, etc.) enjoyed steady work and a happy marriage. However, once she became a mother, there never seemed to be enough time, sleep, and especially help from her husband. Little irritations became monumental obstacles between them, which led to major battles. Consequently, they turned to expensive couples' therapy to help them regain some peace in life. In a combination of memoir and advice that can be found in most couples' therapy self-help books, Dunn provides an inside look at her own vexing issues and the solutions she and her husband used to prevent them from appearing in divorce court. They struggled with age-old battles fought between men and women—e.g., frequency of sex, who does more housework, who should get up with the child in the middle of the night, why women need to have a clean house, why men need more alone time, and many more. What Dunn learned via therapy, talks with other parents, and research was that there is no perfect solution to the many dynamics that surface once couples become parents. But by using time-tested techniques, she and her husband learned to listen, show empathy, and adjust so that their former status as a happy couple could safely and peacefully morph into a happy family. Readers familiar with Dunn's honest and humorous writing will appreciate the behind-the-scenes look at her own semi-messy family life, and those who need guidance through the rough spots can glean advice while being entertained—all without spending lots of money on couples’ therapy.

A highly readable account of how solid research and personal testing of self-help techniques saved a couple's marriage after the birth of their child.

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-26710-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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