The Birth of Love eBook ☆ The Birth ePUB ê

From the winner of the Orange Award for New Writers an epic novel of childbirth—past present and future The year is 1865 In Vienna Dr Ignasz Semmelweiss has been hounded into an asylum by his medical peers ridiculed for his claim that doctors' unwashed hands are the root cause of childbed fever In present day London Bridget Hughes juggles her young son husband and mother as she plans her home birth unprepared for the trial she is about to endure Somewhere in 2135 in a world where humans are birthed and raised in breeding farms Prisoner 730004 is on trial for concealing a pregnancyThrough three stories spanning centuries acclaimed novelist Joanna Kavenna explores the most basic plight of women from the slaughterhouse of primitive medicine to a futurisic vision of technological oppression Poised at the midpoint is Bridget whose fervent belief in the wisdom of nature is tested in one of the most gripping accounts of labor to appear in fictionOriginal powerful and played out against a vast canvas The Birth of Love is at once a novel about the creation of human life science and faith madness and compromise and the epic journey of motherhood


10 thoughts on “The Birth of Love

  1. says:

    An intriguing and original novel of ideas with childbirth at its centre There are four strands to this story and the first two thirds of the book tells them in alternate long chapters The first is based on the true story of Ignaz Semmelweis a nineteenth century Hungarian doctor who discovered that the deadly epidemics of puerperal sepsis childbed fever in the maternity wards of the day were transmitted by doctors' hands and could be prevented by handwashing His ideas were rejected by colleagues and he eventually died in a lunatic asylum This part of the story is narrated by a benevolent visitor to the asylum The second focuses on the birth of a modern child and specifically the mother's experiences in labour as she attempts a home birth while looking after her first child The third is the story of the writer of the Semmelweis story a failing single novelist in his fifties who is suddenly confronted with the media after his book is recognised this section is initially comic in tone but becomes darker once it starts focusing on his relationship with his ailing mother The fourth is set in a dystopian authoritarian future with echoes of Huxley's Brave New World in which natural childbirth is forbidden and tells the story of a group of escapees who recolonise the Lofoten islands to escape from a strictly regulated city after one of the sterilised women mysteriously becomes pregnant The final third of the book mixes these strands and to some extent brings them together though I'm not sure this is entirely successful The novel's central themes are the way modern society conflicts with primal human instincts and natural processes and also the way in which visionary thinkers are rejected by the cultures they challenge A flawed book perhaps but a very readable one which I found very stimulating


  2. says:

    I really was not a fan of this Though I thought the physical writing was not bad the actual stories completely failed to grasp me aside from the futuristic one which was not developed nearly enough If the entire book had been about the prisoners with only a few mentions of how the other stories may have related then I may actually have enjoyed reading The Birth of Love It really didn't help that the meticulously described account of an incredibly painful and distressing labour not only took up a good third of the book but also completely freaked me out I only hope I can forget it in the next decade or so before I face labour myself Terrifying


  3. says:

    Firstly a huge congrats to the author Joanna Kavenna The Birth of Love is on the 2011 Orange Prize Longlist You can view the entire list HEREThe Birth of Love involves four stories entwined into one stunner of a novel One of the most original novels I have read recently it's scary thought provoking and powerful Part dystopia part historical fiction and overall a celebration of motherhood through the centuries Despite some flaws it's a very memorable bookIn 1865 Vienna Professor Semmelweis is forced into a lunatic asylum for suggesting that lack of hygiene among doctors is the cause of women's deaths during childbirth He is tortured by guilt of having been responsible for killing so many mothersIn 2153 the author creates a terrifying scenario Humans can no longer give birth Instead babies are grown in special centers A woman miraculously conceives and the people who are trying to protect her are arrested by the authorities In 2009 a social recluse and an author Michael Stone releases his new book on Professor Semmelweis In the midst of unexpected and unwanted success he comes to know that his estranged mother is dying Should he go and meet her for one last time?In the same year Brigid Hayes is about to give birth to her second child She's tired and completely drained out she doesn't think she can take another childbirthThe Birth of Love beautifully captures the various emotions of motherhood It's awe inspiring on one hand hard hitting on the other The book explores some relevant themes and provokes many questions Despite the four storylines it's not hard to keep track Each character's voice is distinct and unique The descriptions narratives and imagery used by the author is powerful and disturbingOut of the four storylines I think the one set in 2153 is my favorite It presents a scary depiction of what might lie in the future Most of all it compels you to think of what is coming ahead Can you imagine a future where women can't give birth and childbirth is controlled by some kind of authorities?The only problem I had with the book was that I couldn't form a very deep attachment to the characters I sympathized with them but they weren't memorable None of the characters stood out for meThe Birth of Love is strangely captivating When I first started the book I thought it was a bit weird but it soon drew me in Joanna Kavenna successfully mixes genres The only other author who is able to do that perfectly I believe is Margaret AtwoodThe Birth of Love is a compelling depiction of child birth in the past present and future This power packed novel is worthy of the Orange PrizeQuotes At that his eyes fixed on me I must confess that I was briefly unnerved by his gaze It expressed such hopelessness such a terrible absence of joy It was horribly eloquent though all it invoked was macabre and evil There was a chaos to his limbs which dismayed me too It was as if his bones had been broken and had mended strangely Everything about his posture was ugly and awkward everything about his gaze was desperate and beseechingYou have no power to upset me at all Your voice is very faint very distant There is a roaring in my head I can barely hear you beneath the roaring I am adrift on apoisonousboiling ocean I cannot see the shore I have been cast off sent to drift until I drownThough she felt spiky and savage within she never doubted that she loved her son Her love was infinite she sensed there was a deep infinite core of love and then a lesser love her surface emotion where everything got sullied by quotidian demands and mingled with guiltOverallGripping imaginative and powerfulRecommended?Yes for people who enjoy books that take a step away from the ordinary


  4. says:

    I'm giving this book a generous rating of two stars as an average Broken into two pairs of loosely related stories the book in its entirety deals with the processes of birth Three of the stories deal specifically with childbirth and one of them with the birthing process of artistic creation as an author struggles with the aftermath of having published one of the other stories in the book Incidentally the book that the fictional writer had just published was my favorite of the four stories and almost made my bump my entire rating up the three stars and so while I thought his presence in the book was pretty darn boring and it wasn't mentioned on the back of the book either I still had a soft spot for his character I have to say that I really liked the themes in here and the connectivity between the stories and I wanted so much to come away from this reading with a positive feeling Instead each of the pieces ended exactly where the stories became the most intriguing and I was left feeling disappointed I was trying to be analytical and hypothesize that the stories ended like that on purpose just as pregnancy's natural culmination of birth is both an end and an exciting beginning but if that was the author's intent then I felt like I had to reach to get to it It felt as if this book was just a revision of a later powerful and refined final draft that would have pulled all of these ideas together profoundly The stories themselves were mostly interesting in their own way as well but in the end I found each one of them lacking I thought the characters were only halfway interesting and so I only halfway cared about anything that happened to them I was however very impressed with the author's ability to move between the various voices effectively and give each piece a distinctly different voice For the most part I thought that the writing displayed was very skilled The imagery used was very impressive But it just wasn't enoughThe greatest disappointment even above the homebirthing character's complete lack of understanding of homebirths or perhaps even birth in general was the manner in which the futuristic birth story was presented Written as a series of interviews it wasn't long before the story that I had been anticipating most became my least favorite to read I wanted to know about the society the prisoners had fled and the illegal wild village that they had briefly held together but the author chose otherwise The repetition of the questioning and the insistent changes in language could have been interesting in a longer novel but as the stand alone representation of the author's world it was actually kind of annoying Even finding out at the end how this story was connected to another one in the book was totally uninteresting though the revelation could have been sublime I'll definitely seek out other works by this author as I think she's very talented But I just hope that her stories and executions are better refined in other publications


  5. says:

    I can't recall how I came across this book but I'm glad I did 4 stories all involving childbirth andor love loss The story of a Dr in 19th century Vienna that goes insane while trying to convince doctors to wash their hands before examining women during child birth the modern day reclusive author who is writing the story of this Viennese doctor the modern day woman in London giving birth at home and finally the future story where there are only egg and sperm donors the stories only intersect on a very delicate level at most but they do fine independently All the stories are very strong


  6. says:

    While each of the voices and narratives was interesting at the beginning nothing actually happened in any of them and the predominant note of each one was repetition and mood than narrative The book's ideas were schematic than woven into the plot In particular the sci fi plot seemed totally half hearted as narrative yet polemical and also annoyingly written we get the point family is a bad word in 2153 Disappointing


  7. says:

    One of my new favorite writers However her description of giving birth did not endear me to the process of expelling a baby from my nether regions Great writing though and inventive cross cutting between stories


  8. says:

    Deep beautiful and complex this literary gem was simply a treat for me I really loved it


  9. says:

    This book takes the reader into the lives of four main characters in different places and at different times In Vienna in 1865 a doctor is locked up in a mental asylum after discovering that women are dying in childbirth due to inadequate handwashing techniques In the present day Michael has written the story of this same Doctor Ignaz Semmelweis and it has become his first published book But he is struggling to come to terms with how this has affected his life and he is forced to re examine where his life has taken him Brigit Hayes is going into labour with her second child and is determined to have a homebirth this time and in a future world women are locked in tall towers and normal childbirth has been outlawed But something has gone wrongThis book is a fantastic read and all four stories are told intelligently and with an unusual freshness At one point in the book one of the characters states that a book about childbirth wasn't really the kind of book that a man would read thankfully this is not true and I absolutely loved it I loved the fact that at one moment I was in Vienna in 1865 with horses trotting down a cobbled square and the next I was in a sterile interrogation room in 2153But most of all I loved Joanna Kavenna's style of writing that was both interesting and fresh Yesterday was actually a major day of celebration in Hungary where the life of Ignaz Semmelweis is honoured I actually work with a Hungarian Consultant in my local hospital and he was amazed that I knew about it thanks to this book Some books rely heavily on a good ending but some books just take you on a fantasic journey regardless of the ending this is one of those booksI will definitely have to read from this talented Author1010


  10. says:

    The Birth of Love is not one story but a series of interwoven stories one than the synopsis would seem to suggest They are interwoven in such a way as to make it hard to discern which is intended to be truly happening and which to be fabricationA novelist estranged from his family produces a fictional? book on Ignaz Semmelweis The release of this book is intertwined with his strained relationship with his ageing motherAn amateur psychologist? visits Semmelweis the savior of mothers in his asylum and writes a letter about what he witnesses It would appear that this part of the quartet is an excerpt from the novelist's book A heavily pregnant woman named Brigid listens to the radio as her second labour begins In the background? Talk about the novelist's bookIn a futuristic society where reproduction and life in general are heavily controlled a rebellion and almost religious awakening centres around a woman who conceives and gives birth to a child naturally This woman had an ancestor called Brigid It's almost as if each story has given life to the nextThese stories are linked in other waysthemes dreams or actual experiences of blood nourishing and frightening at the same time writing or storytelling insanityconfused mental states and perhaps most importantly birth as both traumatic and beautifulI can't decide whether Kavenna fully realises the level of profundity that it feels like she was aiming for but she's definitely one to watch