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Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother Paperback – May 17, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Poet Fennelly shares, in letters to a formerly pregnant friend, the joys and sorrows of pregnancy and motherhood. Fennelly's letters read like prose, but they're also loaded with information on all aspects of pregnancy-cravings, fear of childbirth, anxieties over health and a changing body-as well as insights on relationships and child rearing. In one letter, she shares a powerful and personal story about how "family secrets...have a way of rotting a family's foundation," and in another she writes about the pleasant surprise of discovering that motherhood "is tremendously sweet, which we all know; it's also tremendously funny, which isn't so well recognized." The letters are arranged chronologically, so the topics ebb and flow according to Fennelly's moods and daily experiences, so the letter celebrating her daughter's victory over potty training is followed by a letter revealing "the erotics of motherhood," which is followed by a treatise on maintaining a tranquil home after baby's arrival. Expecting and new mothers looking for short doses of inspiration will find a year's worth here.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Fennelly loved to play school as a child, went on to teach, and originally addressed these letters to a former student. She found them so helpful that she shared them with another woman pregnant for the first time, who in turn sent them to another. These are no hastily written, lowercase, misspelled, emotional e-mails. Fennelly used, as she wrote in the first letter, "the weight of a pen and thick paper under my hand" to lead her "to a slower pace, slower thoughts, to handpicked words." The first recipient was computer-less, anyway, in Alaska, where her husband's fellowship landed her. In subsequent letters, Fennelly shares the experience of attending a Quaker wedding, her own odd dreams during pregnancy, the joy and the literal shittiness of motherhood, and the sweetness and ease of long-term friendships with people seen only occasionally: "We're able to move so quickly to deep levels of conversation. We don't need to fill each other in on backstory." A reflective, transformative book capable of enlightening beyond parenthood. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (May 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039332978X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393329780
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Graham R. Lewis on May 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
this book will help expectant mothers see their, um, "condition" in a different light I can't attest, for I am neither female nor a great lover of children. But I can say this: I found this book extremely interesting. It is very well-written, full of remarkable ruminations on the connections between the life of a writer and the life of a mother; it is funny, and it does give a beery guy like me an insight into how women could possibly enjoy what I view as the "torture of reproduction." Fennelly does not shy away from the sensuality between mother and child or the sexuality between mother and father, and that lends much import to the more sentimental passages. This is the kind of book that I didn't think could possibly interest me, but Fennelly's writing is always full of surprises. And good surprises at that. This book should not be designated as merely "pregnant chick lit," as it's far better than that. I think it's true benefit may be in helping men find footing in at least one corridor of the labyrinth of the female mind. I've lent it to several of my male friends (single male friends), and they've all expressed the same surprise at finding this topic handled in such a way that they wanted to keep reading. Not bad for a book whose title would have caused a shiver to run up my spine not that long ago. Great With Child is a great read, and you'll find it entertaining regardless of your ability or desire to participate in the propagation of our species.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Abigail R. Cook on March 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These days, it seems like every book for expectant mothers is meant to terrify you. From what can go wrong with your baby, to what is wrong with our hospital system, sometimes it can make a woman crazy. This book is the antidote to all of the crazy out there. Ms. Fennelly's prose is wonderful (she is a poet, after all) and it's light, heartwarming reading. She talks with both love and frankness about the changes a baby brings to one's life, and at the end of the book you feel uplifted rather than scared to death.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Bass on August 9, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful! Not a book of advice, but a heartfelt exchange about what it means to become a mother, and to carry a child. I give it to all my friends when they are expecting.

Note - trigger warning - the author discusses a miscarriage she experienced. It is very moving to hear her describe her experience, but just be aware if that is a sensitive topic for you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this book. I got it last week, couldn't put it down, and then shared it with a friend (I want it back!). Ms. Fennelly truly captures "parenting moments" with such honesty and wit - she tackles some tough subjects that you rarely see in other books. Her advice to her newly-pregnant friend is loving and not judgemental (I loved how she threw a pregnancy "how to" book across the room). I connected with this book in so many ways, and I'm certain that anyone who has children (or who is expecting) will enjoy this book. I will definitely be buying many more copies for my friends!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. W. Garvey on November 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book brought me to tears many times. As the mother of a 12 week old baby, it was so meaningful to have my feelings articulated in such a beautiful way. I will keep my copy and send new ones to mothers of new babies. (I think I appreciated it more having read it with a newborn rather than while pregnant).
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By Kim on November 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was the best book I read while pregnant. Of course I read a million guides to pregnancy, but her writing gets at the heart of what it means to be a new mom, and I found her inspired writing to be far more honest and valuable than a list of "how-to"s. I now buy this book for all my pregnant friends and they've all enjoyed reading it as much as I did.
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By Aram on February 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
If you are pregnant or just had a baby READ THIS BOOK!! I am a first time mom with a little girl and this book did so much for me (besides help me get through the sleepless nights with a newborn) - it made me laugh, helped me relive my pregnancy, and made me look forward to the joys of motherhood.I will buy this for my best friend when she has a baby.
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By MEH on October 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i read this early on in my pregnancy with my first child. it is an easy read (because it's a series of letters, it's nice to read before bed, lots of easy stopping points) and, in my opinion, is wonderful for women getting used to being pregnant and the idea that they're about to become mothers. really enjoyed it.
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