The Week in Books #81

7/14 ✅

The week in books! It continues to be gorgeous and sunny (and less apocalyptically hot) so not a lot of reading has been had. We are also continuing on with our renovations (more on that later) and have another big announcement to make (soon!) so it’s been busy. I got through two this week, here they are.

1. The Birth House by Ami McKay. This book has been in my face for what feels like forever. It was clearly popular when it was released because I find tons of copies on second hand shelves. Tons. It’s always there. Back in the day, however, I really hated reading about motherhood as a theme. I couldn’t relate to it, and after struggling through The Memory Keepers Daughter (just forget about the dead twin already! Move on!) I swore off any books about women having babies. But then I had a baby and now I get it. Lol. So I felt it was finally time to give The Birth House a try. It’s good! I really enjoy Ami McKay’s writing. It’s an interesting feminist story of a group of women fighting to have babies the way they choose and to not have to go to a hospital run by a male doctor who wants to take control of how babies are born (and totally disregard the natural process). Definitely readable.

The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B.’s apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.

Penguin Randomhouse

2. Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff. This is another book that has been on my shelf for what feels like ages. Fates and Furies was pretty good so I was very curious about this collection of short stories. It did not disappoint! It’s incredibly innovative. The stories all revolve around the life of a woman (different in each story) and include some unusual details; a young woman recovering from polio learns to swim, a girl becomes a talented baton twirler, two women form a tight friendship after taking a poetry class together… each story had its own unique element that made each one of them very memorable. Lauren Groff’s writing is also amazingly beautiful.

In some of these stories, enormous changes happen in an instant. In others, transformations occur across a lifetime–or several lifetimes.

Throughout the collection, Groff displays particular and vivid preoccupations. Crime is a motif–sex crimes, a possible murder, crimes of the heart. Love troubles recur; they’re in every story–love in alcoholism, in adultery, in a flood, even in the great flu epidemic of 1918. Some of the love has depths, which are understood too late; some of the love is shallow, and also understood too late. And mastery is a theme–Groff’s women swim and baton twirl, become poets, or try and try again to achieve the inner strength to exercise personal freedom.

Overall, these stories announce a notable new literary master. Dazzlingly original and confident,Delicate Edible Birds further solidifies Groff’s reputation as one of the foremost talents of her generation.

Amazon

Book haul! Just a few added to the hoard this week, and mostly non-fiction; the first three were left in my little free library and looked interesting so I brought them inside (come with me, little babies!) The Nazi Officer’s Wife, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and Things I’ve Been Silent About.

We made an overnight trip to Victoria this week and I found a few there that I grabbed; Nomad, Girl Wash Your Face, Days by Moonlight, and Negroland (I listened to the audiobook of this a while back and this is the first time I’ve found a hard copy). There weren’t nearly as many as I had hoped I would find but we all know I don’t need loads more books anyways haha.

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