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Here’s the thing about birth stories: any parent who has undergone the process of bearing a child experiences a bizarre period afterward when they mistakenly believe that everyone wants to hear the minute details of how said child came into the world. Friends, relatives, and unsuspecting strangers who stop to coo over the new bundle of joy are regaled with the kind of personal information that most of us would otherwise be too embarrassed to discuss even with our own physicians. But get a group of newly minted parents together, and inevitably, they’ll start swapping war stories. And, make no mistake, that’s what the 24 tales in Great Expectations are. Blood, gore, intense pain, exhaustion, despair, defeat, joy, madness, and what can only be described as torture feature prominently in this collection of memoirs, penned by a clutch of journalists and fiction writers, including Edeet Ravel, Michael Redhill, Bill Gaston, and Lynn Coady. Among the standouts are the opener by Caroline Adderson; Claire Wilkshire’s acerbic rant, which ends on a soft note; a brief but deftly crafted juxtaposition of life and death by Joseph Boyden; and Jaclyn Moriarty’s tri-generational tale. They elevate the book beyond a vanity project to something moving. The biggest problem is one of audience. Who will read this collection? People with children have their own stories, and tend to quickly get over the need to share them (or hear those of others). Those without children are unlikely to go in search of graphic descriptions of what women actually endure giving birth. The stories are worth reading, but one can only hope that these writers haven’t laboured in vain.
As suits such a multi-faceted subject, this collection is varied in tone, narrative, and authorship...All the writers are award winning authors so the prose is always very good, deftly observant, forming sharp, poignant, comic, succinct dramas...Each story can stand alone as an engrossing read. Together they create a lovely sense of continuum... (Newfoundland Quarterly 2008-12-08)
Profoundly moving. (Globe and Mail 2008-09-08)
Some of Canada's best writers...delve into their experiences of childbirth and bare their souls in sharing their memories...[Great Expectations] demands the best that each writer has to give. These writers deliver. (Atlantic Books Today 2008-12-08)
This collection of essays about childbirth is dedicated to parents of the past, present, and future. No matter which you are, you'll find something to enjoy in these often humorous and dramatic personal stories. The contributors are a who's who of CanLit. (Best Health 2008-09-08)