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Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother Paperback


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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: 7.8 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 the Hardcover edition.

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 the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Great book for new mothers.
Miss GG
Ms. Fennelly's prose is wonderful (she is a poet, after all) and it's light, heartwarming reading.
Abigail R. Cook
I plan to buy a few more copies of this and give to friends at baby showers!
Allison Boone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 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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2 of 2 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 JMB on July 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Beautifully written. I couldn't put this book down. This is my new go to gift for new and expectant mothers.
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2 of 3 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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Format: Hardcover
Fennelly knows well the language of motherhood, an accomplished poet who has captured those moments in childhood that both confuse and enrapture new mothers. In a series of letters written for a former student who has passed through the grief of losing a mother to marriage and the expectation of her own baby, the author shares her insights into that momentous journey, the joys, the fears, the doubts and the expectations. There are no real parameters in this shadow world of intuition, instinct and the things our mothers have taught us (some useful, some not).

The changes are profound: the stress on a marriage caused by the appearance of an infant, the sleepless nights, the depression over excess weight and the difficulty of arranging alone time with a neglected spouse, the role of caretaker isolating the mother from her former life, all issues that new parents must patiently work through together: "Truly, babies are hyphenated- they are endearing-exasperating; they are amusing-annoying." But each phase is bittersweet, lasting only a moment, including the transition from baby gurgles to language skills: "Daddy can't eat wif us if we eat girl cheese sandwiches."

Fennelly's letters to her former student are filled with personal revelations, the evolution of her own personality through the daily business of mothering a daughter: "Looking back, I see how both poetry and love prepared me for raising Claire." What was meant to be an intimate, private correspondence, in turn was passed from one mother-to-be to another, frequently enough that this book was compiled to share with all mother-to-be. Part memoir, part life instruction, Fennelly blends language, experience and affection to speak her truths: "I love science's instinct for metaphors, though they all fail... your baby is like nothing that's ever been created." Luan Gaines/ 2006.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a great easy read which pulled at my heart from the beginning to the end! Is great for those who aren't mothers yet (like me) and those who are expecting, or already have children. It takes mothers back to the time when the child was tiny and highlights the struggles and victories of being a new mother! I plan to buy a few more copies of this and give to friends at baby showers! Thanks Beth Ann Fennelly for deciding to put these letters into a book!!
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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 Shannon Gentry on November 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My daughter enjoyed the format of letters written to a friend. Excellent. Like the format as I already said. Yes.
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