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An Innocent, a Broad Hardcover – March 30, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060527234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060527235
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #655,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Just 26 weeks into her first pregnancy, Ann Leary's water broke--an event she sardonically refers to as "the PROM" (doctor-speak for "premature rupture of membranes). Unfortunately for her, the "PROM" took place while she was strolling along Oxford Street during a weekend trip to London, where her (then-unknown) husband Denis Leary was booked to perform a BBC comedy show. Forbidden to return home and placed on total bed rest, Ann gets "knackered" from the medications pumped into her body to prevent premature labor. In some of the book's funniest passages, she makes great efforts to prevent her many hospital roommates from discovering she's American, lest they suspect she's freeloading off the National Health Service. (Don't let the bad pun of the book's title put you off; Ann's sense of humor is often as biting and gritty as her husband's).

Despite the doctors' best efforts, baby Jack is born two weeks later, while Denis is back in the U.S. working at comedy clubs (and trying to keep the couple from being evicted from their apartment). Jack is in relatively good shape, but Ann's mental state is at risk, as sleep deprivation, anxiety, and loneliness get the best of her. Among her postpartum goofs is befriending another woman whose baby is also in intensive care; she mistakes her for a slim, serene Earth Mother instead of the heroin-addict she really is. So, An Innocent, A Broad is not so much a drama of Jack's survival as much as it is a chuckle-fest at the expense of both Ann's predicament and of the Brits in general, whose overwrought sense of propriety is mocked non-stop. Beware if you think this might seem a perfect gift for a pregnant woman; the belly laughs are constant and likely to cause any expectant woman's water to break. --Erica Jorgensen

From Publishers Weekly

While pregnant, Leary, a television and film writer, fantasized about the birth of her son: it would include a home birth ("I would realize that there was no time to make it to the hospital"), an easy delivery (an "evening on our bed, laboring and breathing"), and, of course, a healthy child ("a beautiful, plump baby that my husband would triumphantly slide onto my bare belly"). This fantasy, Leary admits, occasionally included "a handsome fireman who was called upon in a moment of panic." Needless to say, it didn't happen that way. On a weekend trip with her husband, comedian Denis Leary (who was still relatively unknown at the time), to London in 1990 during her second trimester, Leary's water broke. No home birth, no healthy baby, no fireman. With a light touch and comic flair, Leary recounts the five months in London surrounding her son Jack's birth (they had to wait until Jack was more developed to travel back to the U.S.). Forgoing the gory medical details, Leary focuses on her life in and around the hospital and her naïveté about childbirth and parenting. Her cultural observations are especially droll, as Leary sorts out that "tea" is actually a meal and tries to prove that Americans aren't stupid: "I tried to look intelligent, but... I had nothing to read or even to look at, so I narrowed my eyes and stared at my fingernails, in what I hoped was a thoughtful way." Oddly, the one thing missing from the narrative is her husband, who plays a surprisingly small role. Still, this memoir is an easy read that finds the humor in this trying time in Leary's life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Very well-written and enjoyable to read.
To be way more trite than she ever would be: you will laugh, you will cry, you will feel like you know her.
After enjoying Good House I went looking for more Ann Leary and was delighted with this heartfelt story.
Al Sus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on April 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A self-described "master fretter," the pregnant Ann Leary worried over her first-born but could never have predicted what was in their future: the delivery, three months early, of two-pound, six-ounce Jack in a distant land. A quick jaunt to England, where Ann's husband, comedian Denis Leary, has a gig, is suddenly interrupted when Ann's membranes rupture. Ann, who once believed she was the type of person who would take charge in a disaster --- leading people from a plane crash, for example --- found that she was "in fact, the shrieking, running-into-the-burning-wreckage type."
After much hysteria and a cab ride, Ann and Denis find themselves in London's University College Hospital. She is put to bed in the hope that the delivery will be delayed as long as possible. Ann, who moved frequently as a child, sometimes feels like an awkward newcomer. In a roomful of British mums, she truly is out of her element. When asked if she is ready for tea, for example, she refuses while admitting she's hungry. She's concerned about caffeine and hasn't yet caught on to the fact that "tea" is actually a meal.
Ann makes friends eventually with the hospital staff and the other mothers, who help sustain her and Denis during the long ordeal after Jack is born. When Denis must return to New York to work, Ann stays nearby spending most of her time in the Special Care Baby Unit. She describes her admiration of the nursing staff: "If, for example, you haltingly inform a nurse that you have just passed what appeared to be a large part of your brain into the toilet, via the birth canal, the nurse will not gag but instead will admonish you for flushing it away before showing it to her.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ann Leary's autobiographical account of her sons birth abroad, amidst the rise of her husbands comedy career, is well-written, interesting, and very truthful. Unlike some autobiographical stories, Ann doesn't attempt to present herself as some sort of hero, and she doesn't portray anything that happened to her in a way that is self-serving. She tells it like it is. And it is a very interesting story. From her son's surprise appearance, to her unexpected life abroad, Anne's story is intriguing, sometimes sad, funny, and sometimes happy. I would expect that anyone who's ever had a premie, or anyone who's lived abroad, would especially enjoy her story, but to the rest of us, it's still a good read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Swafford on August 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was just lamenting that it had been awhile since I read a truly good book, when I picked up An Innocent, A Broad by Ann Leary. What a fabulous book! I couldn't put the book down once I started. Ann Leary is a terrific, no-nonsense writer. She is humorous and sarcastic, able to poke fun at herself at a very serious time of her life. I laughed out loud several times while I was reading it. I recommend it for anyone - but especially for parents, who will reflect on their own experiences with a newborn, especially a preemie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ann on April 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is not just a memoir for mothers to be. It is Ann Leary's unique, self- deprecating, caustic and hilarious account of what it feels like to be trapped in a foreign country and at the mercy of strangers. Her fears are our fears, her insights become the reader's. You laugh along with her as you would laugh at yourself. She has a way of saying exactly what you would be thinking and nodding your head in agreement and talking back to the book as if it were a very close friend. I felt a need to read aloud passages (and did) to whoever I was near at the time, so that they too, could join me in my delight. I laughed out loud many times, in public places, while reading it on my trip to Ireland (it only lasted the plane flight and one day, as I couldn't put it down) and I wept openly at one point, sniffling into my pot of tea. If you are traveling abroad, it should be at the top of your list and if you are not, read it anyway and you will feel like you are. It's Postcards From The Edge, but without the drugs and rehab. Her own personal kind of hell that must have been brutal while going through it and filled with humor and wit upon reflection. What else can one say, except that as a personal memoir, this one not only delivers exactly why these books should be written, it makes you want more of them. Hoping she doesn't make us wait too long for her next book, to see how she further tackles life, in her own inimitable style.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joan Thompson on April 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ann Leary's book, An Innocent, A Broad, is true page-turner, a fascinating peek into the life of a young family faced with a harrowing experience abroad. The writing is crisp and witty, the story one of deep emotion told with humor and clarity. This reader could often not decide between laughter and tears as the Learys tried to cope with fear, money woes, separation and the unconditional love they felt for their newborn, premature (two pounds, six ounces!) baby boy. This book has it all. It would take a heart of stone not to root for these three and thoroughly applaud Ann's unique courage in dealing with circumstances beyond her control. I suspect Denis Leary will not be the only famous member of the family in the future.
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