"Mothers are the countries we come from: sometimes when I hold my daughter I try to apprehend this belonging for her, to feel myself as solid and fixed, to capture my smell and shape and atmosphere. I try to flesh out her native landscape. I try to imagine what it would be like to have me as a mother". The experience of motherhood is an experience ...
"Mothers are the countries we come from: sometimes when I hold my daughter I try to apprehend this belonging for her, to feel myself as solid and fixed, to capture my smell and shape and atmosphere. I try to flesh out her native landscape. I try to imagine what it would be like to have me as a mother". The experience of motherhood is an experience in contradiction. It is commonplace and it is impossible to imagine. It is prosaic and it is mysterious. It is at once banal, bizarre, compelling, tedious, comic and catastrophic. To become a mother is to become the chief actor in a drama of human existence to which no one turns up. It is the process by which an ordinary life is transformed unseen into a story of strange and powerful passions, of love and servitude, of confinement and compassion. In this work, novelist Rachel Cusk attempts to tell something of this story, an old story set in a new era of sexual equality. When we no longer know what it is to be a woman, what is it to be a mother? When our expectations are so complex, what can we make of the simple lowliness of caring for a small child? Cusk's story of a year of modern motherhood becomes many stories: a farewell to freedom, sleep and time; a lesson in humility and hard work; a journey to the roots of love; a meditation on madness and mortality; and most of all a sentimental education in babies, books, toddler groups, bad advice, crying, breastfeeding and never being alone.
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-03-25 Taking an unsentimental approach to one of the most dramatic changes in a woman's life, British novelist Cusk (The Country Life) dissects the process of new motherhood from a psychological and emotional perspective. Now the mother of two, Cusk found the early weeks and months with a dependent newborn far from idyllic and rewarding, and her description of that time fills in the gaps left by most pregnancy and child-rearing books. Her dry, honest style is a refreshing change for anyone seeking to understand the daily realities of undertaking such an enormous responsibility. Despite a tone that is at times bleak and foreboding, Cusk perfectly captures the inherent conflict between the pleasures known before baby and those that the baby brings, noting, for example, "it is when the baby sleeps that I liaise, as if it were a lover, with my former life," but "sometimes I miss the baby and lie beside her cot while she sleeps." Cusk details her struggles with the major tasks all new mothers face, like feeding and sleep, and she addresses the challenge not only to do what is best for the baby, but also to maintain a sense of self and autonomy in the face of such constant, overwhelming need. Although not a cheerful baby shower gift book, Cusk's brutal honesty will certainly be appreciated by many new moms, assuring them they are not alone. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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