I started this book a few weeks back and wondered in the first 35 pages where it was going. I got distracted with school and work and then put it down. Last night when I picked it back up, I was sorry that I had to go to sleep and couldn’t finish before getting too drowsy.
Like Donoghue’s previous offering “The Room” this book is likely not for everyone…and just like that book it will stay with me for a very long time. Having written it in 2018 to commemorate the front line workers the Spanish Flu epidemic 100 years ago, the book was hurried into publication as it became more and more timely during the Covid-19 pandemic this year.
The themes are deep. Life. Death. Birth. Love. Feminism. War. And Donoghue manages in 4 major scenes spent mostly in a single hospital war to capture it all and leave me a bit breathless with heartbreak and hope.
My best friend is training to be a midwife and I enjoyed a few years as a Doula…and Donoghue is able to catch the magic of time stopping and rushing at a breakneck pace during the course of childbirth. She is also able to so eloquently and gently capture the first moment of love. And the wretchedness of not being able to fix someone’s past who we love deeply.
I’m moved. I need to breathe and to look at the stars.