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A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood
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A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  58 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
There is no denying it: motherhood splits a woman’s life forever, into a before and an after. To this doubled life Lisa Catherine Harper brings a wealth of feeling and a wry sense of humor, a will to understand the emotional and biological transformations that motherhood entails, and a narrative gift that any reader will enjoy. Harper documents her own journey across this ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Bison Books
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Apr 04, 2011 Stacy rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I really liked the idea of this book. However, I felt that the author spent too much time indulging herself in telling us her story and too little time talking about pregnancy/motherhood in general.

All mothers (as the author notes) feel that their story is somehow different. We are the epitome of the "one-upper" (Well, my labor was worse than yours because blah, blah, blah). I thought it was ironic that the author notices this and still spends so much time boring us with details. Telling your s
Sarah Wells
May 18, 2012 Sarah Wells rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, motherhood
Tonight I rolled on our bed with Henry, blew raspberries on his belly and he laughed and squirmed and laughed. He patted my face with his pudgy palm. He concentrated on the blank screen of my phone and pushed with all his might to make it do something.

Earlier, I watched Miss Lydia kick a soccer ball and felt my heart swell with pride and wonder at how she's gotten so tall and fast, how determined she is, and I wondered at the complicated blending of personality and skill sets and talents and loo
Aug 16, 2012 Christina rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was written from the perspective of before the writer wanted to get pregnant, basically, to the time of her child beginning to talk.

I may have enjoyed this more if 1) I was currently pregnant or, 2) if my pregnancy had been 'normal'. I didn't begin to enjoy it, or relate much to it, until after the birth of her child and after a little bit of time had passed. But again I suspect this is because my circumstances were so different, aside from our closeness in ages of becoming pregnant.

May 02, 2011 Caroline rated it it was amazing
A beautifully compelling memoir. Harper explores her journey into motherhood from her daughter's conception till her 9th month, grounding her personal story in the science of pregnancy and infant development. It's a fascinating and lyrical account of those alternately disorienting and wondrous days, relevant even if you're long past them.
Jun 17, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Lisa Catherine Harper's compassionate yet shrewd memoir sheds new light on the complexities of becoming a mother. I was astonished by her accuracy for detail and the depth of emotion she chronicled while living through this radical change in her life. What an insightful gift this is for the first-time mother.
May 08, 2012 Janet rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-bio, love
A must read for anyone considering motherhood, or anyone who has a mother to appreciate how totally a baby takes over your body, heart and mind! Not self absorbed at all, and mixes personal story with medical and psychological info. Good stuff.
Apr 15, 2011 Eric rated it it was ok
Not what I was expecting. I thought it was a science PhD student who was going to write more about the science of what was happening. But it's an English major type writing about a lot of dancing.
Jean Godwin Carroll
As the first-time mother of a toddler, I love to read well-written accounts about discovering motherhood. This one did nothing for me and I found myself skimming through the second half.
i liked this a lot when i was in the right mood for it. when i first picked it up, i blazed through 75 pages in no time, even though the language tends to be somewhat dense & poetic (ie, not the easiest read). i was just feeling really clear-headed & invested in this woman's journey through pregnancy.

when i picked it up again, i really struggled. i was sleepy, dealing with my own pregnancy fatigue, & just trying to get through the late afternoon until i got my usual evening second wi
Literary Mama
Jan 29, 2012 Literary Mama added it
Shelves: memoir
Harper's fascination with the physical and emotional changes wrought in a woman's body and mind when she becomes pregnant and gives birth are the driving force of this book. As I read A Double Life, I found myself taking notes and nodding my head, thinking, Yes, yes, exactly. This is what happened in my body when I was pregnant. I consider myself a researcher, but I was amazed by all the details of pregnancy and childbirth that I didn't know. For instance, I had no idea that nausea in early preg ...more
Jean V. Naggar Literary
Aug 09, 2012 Jean V. Naggar Literary rated it it was amazing
“This incredibly rich and enlightening book about one woman's journey into motherhood is a clear example of the successful merging of memoir and scientific study. Harper writes with honesty about her own anxieties and uncertainties as she educates herself (and the reader) on the biological facts about the ultimate miracle of life. She remains centered, however, with frequent moments of self-awareness and grace: 'I was just another pregnant woman. Which was probably the most remarkable thing of a ...more
Feb 08, 2012 Ronnie rated it liked it
I give this book three stars instead of two only because the last third was actually helpful and informative... the rest (her and her husband's social life of swing dancing on weekends, their conception tale, and their time leading up to the birth) I found to be too personally specific, uninteresting, and honestly too self-absorbed and a bit pretentious. I feel as though in the first part, Harper tried to make too much out of a common story to amp up the "literary" value. The birth and post-birt ...more
Aug 19, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012

I have read many books about experiences with pregnancies in the last six months and I must say, this is the best one I have read to date. Lisa speaks for the types of mothers and mothers-to-be that "over think". She has given a voice to feelings I've had but not known how to express in words. This book is graceful and introspective. She speaks with truth and honesty. I just loved it. Even the "scary" parts of motherhood seem to have a silver lining to them when discussed in this book. It was ju
Apr 08, 2011 Liana rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book and the balance of science and her story of becoming a mother. Lisa describes the transition to motherhood in a believable and realistic, yet engaging read! I loved the way she reconciles her life before with the new amazing experiences of becoming a mother. This book reminded me of the amazing journey and the importance of not losing yourself when you become a Mom. It is extremely well-written and was great fun to read.

Feb 13, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it
I liked the beginning because I felt like I could identify with the early days of her pregnancy and I liked the end where she discussed her delivery and first days with he baby. I found the middle to be incredibly boring and even skimmed some parts because I really just didn't care about what she was discussing.
Julie Leonard
Mar 21, 2011 Julie Leonard rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book. It's a great read for the mother whose hit that realization that we will never be that same person we were before we got pregnant, delivered and became a mother. Some of her descriptions and anecdotes really hit home for me.
Jun 10, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
This book talked about the author's experience of pregnancy through the first few months with a newborn. I enjoyed her writing and the honest story of her journey. Funny and honest!
KatherineJ Barrett
Jan 02, 2012 KatherineJ Barrett rated it really liked it
One of my "best motherhood memoirs of 2011." Full list here:
Aug 18, 2012 Roxanne rated it really liked it
Author's account of her first pregnancy, delivery and life with new baby. Very philosophical and somewhat poetic.
May 30, 2012 Rosemarie rated it it was ok
Too much of a memoir - I was hoping for something more.
Jun 29, 2011 Monica rated it it was ok
It's ok, but I'm finding it fairly boring. Skimming.
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Lisa Catherine Harper is the author of A Double Life, Discovering Motherhood, winner of the 2010 River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize. Her writing has appeared online and in print in places including Poetry Foundation, Huffington Post, Glimmer Train, Babble, Offsprung, Literary Mama, and Gastronomica. She is Adjunct Professor of Writing in the University of San Franciscos Master of Fine Arts in W ...more
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“Like so many other things in the previous year, my politics had also been retooled by maternity. I began to suspect that modern feminism had gotten it at least partly wrong. . . . In devaluing the home and the vast range of domestic work--childrearing included--and in fighting a fight largely for the right to work outside the home, the modern feminist movement ignored a singular power already available to women and, maybe more important, to the collective imagination. Rather than fighting to re-invent the home, or to effect a real transformation of values, or to legitimize and legalize the domestic and childrearing work that so many women engage in--which is necessary to support any mother's work outside the home--we have found it easier to map power where it already existed. Is this really my only choice? Between the intense demands of an academic career (supported by full-time childcare) and the mind-deadening contemplation of Cheerios?” 1 likes
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