Love doesn’t always follow the rules. Should creating a child be any different?
Rayner (One Moment, One Morning, 2011, etc.) gently disentangles the lives of men and women (including the main characters from her previous novel) brought together by the desire to have a baby. All of these lives converge through the alternative parenting movement. Recovering from ovarian cancer, Cath realizes that she truly wants a child with her devoted husband. For his part, Rich had always dreamed of a family with Cath, a dream that had seemed to fade from view during her illness. But without ovaries, and rejecting adoption, they will need another generous woman to donate eggs. Once that hurdle is past, they’ll need to deal with Cath’s judgmental mother and sister-in-law, who wields alternative medical advice like a weapon. Lou, recovering from her own brush with a cancer scare, faces a different obstacle. Her partner, Sofia, has no interest in settling down. Furthermore, her mother—who seems stuck in the 1950s, devoutly ignoring her daughter’s lesbianism—and sister have never considered Lou mother material. Finding the courage to face family bullying proves more difficult than getting pregnant. Once connected through the network of alternative parenting sites, both Cath and Lou do become pregnant—Cath, through the generosity of Lou, who shares her eggs, and Lou, through the lucky arrival of Adam on the scene. A gay doctor who wishes to be a real dad, not just a sperm donor, Adam meets Lou through a mutual friend, and the two negotiate a truly alternative and kind plan for parenting their child. Despite filling her story with so much heartbreak and conflict, Rayner deftly avoids sounding clichéd. Her characters ring true, their concerns are realistic and their emotions guileless.
Ripe for filming, this novel is both poignant and authentic.