Top critical review
Womp womp :(
on May 23, 2017
I read the other reviews for this book and I really wanted to like it. I saw that some readers railed against the negative tone and overall disillusionment with which Cusk approaches her subject—one I will be embarking upon myself in a few short weeks. I decided to try it, though, because others said Cusk is honest and raw; I thought perhaps the readers who wanted her to be more positive were just uncomfortable with that honesty and rawness.
I was eager to crack the cover when it arrived, and—although the somber tone of the introduction did give me pause—I gave this book what I felt like was a fair shot. Cusk's prose can be quite enchanting in its style and she quotes writers like D.H. Lawrence and Bronte heavily, using examples from literature to frame her narrative—unfortunately, these excerpts from the big names in literature were possibly the most compelling part of Cusk's book. My overall feeling is that Cusk seems to have given birth within a starkly unsupportive context—she doesn't seem to know how to advocate for herself during her C-section birth and attempts to get help from a very lame-sounding breastfeeding support clinic. At one point, about halfway through the book and after an exhausting litany of complaints about motherhood in general, Cusk comments that she didn't know or realize she was going to have to feed her daughter every 3 hours for the first year. First—this of course isn't true once a mother and child can settle into a routine. Second—did Cusk not orient herself at all to what having a newborn is like? Had she not spoken to her friends who were mothers, her midwife, or a pediatrician...ever?
I came away with the overwhelming feeling that Cusk was reveling in complaining about the domestic and un-egalitarian aspects of pregnancy and motherhood—an age-old, if not dated, gripe. Again, I wanted to like this book, but felt that the complaints were not rounded out by the amazement of motherhood or loving fascination with her baby. The honesty and rawness I anticipated was almost never accompanied by humor or levity.
I won't be recommending this book to my friends as they become pregnant—I'll stick to Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bebe.