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An Innocent, a Broad

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  819 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
Ann Leary's hilarious, poignant, surprising, and heartfelt memoir, An Innocent, a Broad, is a phenomenon -- a fascinating, hugely entertaining chronicle of two simultaneous, unexpected births: of a baby and a major show-business career.

When Ann and her husband, then unknown actor-comedian Denis Leary, flew to London in the early nineties, neither anticipated the adventure
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 30th 2004 by William Morrow (first published March 2004)
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Ann Leary, wife of comedian Denis Leary, took a weekend trip to London during Ann's second trimester of her first pregnancy. The plan was for Denis (then practically unknown) to do a gig on a television show, do a little sightseeing and go home. What they didn't anticipate was Ann going into labor while walking along London's streets. Suddenly a weekend trip turned into a five month stay in Britain at the mercy of Britain's National Health Service. Leary hilariously recounts her attempts to avoi ...more
Mar 16, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this book when I was pregnant with my son (our first), and laughed so hard I thought I would go into labor. It's the true adventures of comedian Denis Leary's wife (herself a gifted writer and comedienne), who went into labor with their first child at 26 weeks. . . . While they were on vacation in England. She spent the next 18 months there, rarely seeing her husband, waiting and hoping for their son to be all right. Even during the worst moments for a new parent, her funny take on things ...more
Jun 27, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it
I don't normally read nonfiction but I've become a fan of Leary's blog and this true tale of the premature birth of her son while she and her (sexy but not yet famous) husband, Denis, were there so he could perform on BBC. What follows is a fast and engrossing read about the next few months spent with the support of the British health care system in a strange environment with the challenge of uncertainty about her baby's survival, lonely as her husband struggles to make a living far away, adjust ...more
Aug 29, 2012 Abby rated it it was amazing
Loved it! I am a huge Denis Leary fan so thought I would give Mrs. Leary a chance. The story pulled me right in, I finished this book in 3 days, I couldn't put it down. It's a great read, not only about their experience with their premature first child, but it also sheds a little light into how his career really took off.
I would absolutely read another book by Ann Leary!
May 08, 2013 Michelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, 2013
I read this only because I so adored Ann Leary’s novel “The Good House.” An Innocent, a Broad is not a novel but a memoir of her son’s extremely premature birth while the author and her then-fledgling actor husband Denis Leary were on a trip to the UK. Leary tells this with a lot of heart and her subtle sense of humor. Admittedly I wasn’t super into the topic as I’ve read memoirs with similar themes and have seen it second-hand through friends with micro-preemies. Not that this makes me an exper ...more
Mar 15, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sue
Recommended to Jen by: George
Because I've been traveling to the UK a lot this year, and because I'm thinking about a time when I might be pregnant, this book struck really close to home. Ann Leary, wife of comedian Denis Leary, went into labor three months early while visiting London. She had to stay there during her pregnancy, labor, and the post-labor trials in the hospital as her 2 pound son tried to survive. Survive he did, and this memoir describes the differences between the UK and US hospitalization systems, the diff ...more
Feb 13, 2009 Michelle rated it liked it
While on vacation in England, Ann Leary experiences PROM (premature rupture of the membranes) which forces her to deliver her baby early... in England... under socialized medicine. The experience is raw and emotional, but it gives an interesting look at how things are done on the other side of the pond.
Jun 29, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
This is the kind of thing I turn to when I'm pregnant! My brain gets a little softer, Iswear, and suddenly I enjoy sentimental and light fare. Definitely some funny moments and anxieties that all mothers can relate to, even if they've never gone into premature labor in a foreign country while their husband's stand-up comedy career is taking off!
Oct 07, 2016 Theresa rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, it was very funny and kept my attention.
Carla Peele
Sep 18, 2012 Carla Peele rated it it was amazing
I felt an instant connection to Ann Leary, who wrote honestly and didn't overdo the drama in pulling you into her story, having had a difficult premature birth my second pregnancy. But, unlike Ann's first pregnancy, I was lucky enough to be home and my child released to me immediately, not stuck in a foreign antenatal care unit for five MONTHS...

I cannot imagine having to be stuck in a foreign country that long, feeling an outsider, and even though the story took place years ago (1990), and her
Mar 14, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
A friend recommended this book because my preemie just came home from the NICU. I was wary about reading something that struck so close to home, but I loved this book.

Like Leary, I had a PROM at 24 weeks, stayed in an antepartum unit until delivery at 28 weeks, and my son weighed exactly what hers weighed at birth... Needless to say, I could relate to her story! Unlike Leary, I did not experience all this in London. I enjoyed hearing about the differences in healthcare and treatment, and her ob
Feb 23, 2013 Meisje rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
Each time I was forced to put this book down, I gave it a little hug and sighed. Ann's account is hilarious one moment, heartbreaking and wistful the next, and sometimes even terrifying when you realize just how close she and Denis came to losing their son. The writing was brisk and conversational with the flow and flair of a natural storyteller, so I always felt engaged. I especially enjoyed the way Ann envisioned her most idealized scenarios -- like having a fireman show up if she went into la ...more
Jan 28, 2013 Katy rated it liked it
As the mother of a preemie I was really excited about this book. There aren't many first person accounts of having a preemie that are in novel form and not just about the facts. Plus, I like Ann Leary's other books.

This book was pretty good, I wish I could give it 3.5 stars. I teared up at a few of the parts of the book because it brought back a lot of memories of what I went through. It was interesting to read about how she dealt with having a preemie and being halfway around the world, half th
Courtney Furtner
Sep 03, 2013 Courtney Furtner rated it really liked it
The more I read Ann Leary, the more I like her. She's not a complicated writer, but she's a really, really good writer. You cannot put her books down because they are so well crafted.

This story will probably appeal to mothers more than those sans children. Putting yourself in Ann's shoes makes your own birth experience pale into nothing, trust me. Did you have a preemie while abroad for the weekend? Were you forced to live alone for the better part of six months in a foreign country because your
Apr 12, 2014 Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ann Leary is one of my favorite authors so I couldn't resist this memoir of her time early in her marriage and pregnancy when she followed her husband, actor (then just beginning his career as a stand-up comedian) Denis Leary, to London for a special weekend gig, only to find herself stuck in a London hospital indefinitely due to her water breaking 3 months before her due date.

She has a wonderful writing style and great sense of humor. Not only is the book about an American dealing with the Bri
Feb 20, 2013 Joanne rated it really liked it
Imagine strolling hand in hand with your soon-to-be-but-nowhere-near-yet famous husband through an idyllic London park at the very beginning of the third trimester of your first pregnancy. Suddenly, faster than you can say "Bangers and Mash", your water breaks and you find yourself in labour, as our Brit friends say. Alone, flat broke and scared silly, Ann and Dennis Leary begin a "one day at a time" journey through the NHS in hopes of keeping their son in utero for as long as possible. While it ...more
Dec 07, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: expecting mothers
Recommended to Beth by: NY Times article about Leary family.
I love a good memoir, and I may be a bit more forgiving as a result than the average reader. Leary is not afraid to be neurotic or self-deprecating, and I really appreciate that in a memoir. This book was truly laugh out loud funny at times. I'm not a Denis Leary fan, and I really hesitated about picking this one up. Now, on the negative side, I expected a little more medical information, but I guess she intended for this book to serve as more of an overview of the experience of going into prema ...more
May 19, 2013 Erin rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I love a good memoir and I liked Ann Leary's writing style in A Good House so I was drawn to this book. She tells the story of giving birth to her oldest son very prematurely in a London hospital during a brief visit and the ensuing stress and worry of living abroad while consumed with her son's wellbeing. The highlights for me were all of the backstories about her family and in-laws - particularly the parts about her husband, the comedian/actor Denis Leary who was a relative unknown ...more
This book was all right - Ann Leary's writing voice is funny & poignant at the same time. She narrates the story of her son's unexpected premature birth in London while she & her husband (Denis Leary, before anyone knew who he was) were there for what they thought would be a long weekend. The differences between the American & British health systems are highlighted by Ann's fish out of water experience. The story ends happily, as the baby is pronounced perfectly healthy after a long ...more
Kim D
Sep 13, 2011 Kim D rated it really liked it
Ann Leary (wife to comedian Dennis Leary) traveled to England while pregnant - 2nd trimester. During her trip, she experiences a medical crisis and is hospitalized for the duration of her pregnancy. While her comedian husband is establishing his fledgling career and must return to the US, Ann remains in a hospital in a foreign country, dealing with unfamiliar circumstances, no local support network, and the crisis of trying to prevent her son's premature birth. At times funny and at times bitter ...more
Jan 26, 2009 Abby marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This book is about Dennis Leary's wife having a premie baby in London. I thought, "Who is Dennis Leary? I've heard that name." I thought maybe I knew who he was, so I looked him up on Wikipedia. I have no idea who he is, actually. But he is not very attractive. Wow! I can't believe he managed to have children. That by itself will make the book a page turner.

How come celebrity guys get away with being so totally weird looking in their faces? I don't get it. No one gives me a free pass when I loo
Jan 07, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1990, Ann Leary and her then unknown comic husband Dennis were on a thrilling expenses paid weekend in London that their normally impoverished lifestyle wouldn't allow. Ann was just barely 4 months pregnant. Her water broke that weekend and so begins this tale of her subsequent 6 months stay in England. This is a really charming tale of an England that tourists don't see, of a health care system that is just enough different than ours to be very interesting and of a really down to earth woman ...more
Kimberly Simpson
Dec 09, 2014 Kimberly Simpson rated it it was amazing
This was a touching memoir about having an extreme preterm baby in England. Her account of the cultural differences she encountered along the way was especially interesting and sometimes humorous. Highly recommend!

My favorite quote: "When I was young, I always thought of myself as worldly and wise beyond my years, but now I was a mother, and I saw my former self as I really was- hopelessly innocent and naive and unfinished, and I desperately wanted to be that way again"
Jul 05, 2011 Melanie rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of Denis Leary, and knew his wife is a writer. Normally this is not a book I would pick up being a single and childless woman. However, I found this book very hard to put down. I've read several biographies and Ann does a great job of keeping the reader engaged, and never feeling sorry for her. Throught the book we know that little two pound Jack grows up to be a healthy young man. This also gives Americans insight to the British culture.
Jan 09, 2013 Kathee rated it really liked it
This is Ann Leary's account of having a premature baby in the early 90's. I could relate to this somewhat, as my first child was born at 28 weeks, although I was lucky that I wasn't travelling in England at the time. I loved this book, I could relate to so much. I love her sense of humor throughout. Sometimes I look back on those days when my son was born and feel traumatized; I love that she chose to look back with grace, humor and gratitude.
Apr 18, 2007 Meghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People living/travelling abroad navigating different health care systems
Shelves: intercultural
Surprisingly great! Well written and I didn't want to put it down. A somewhat funny, but honest account of an American delivering a premie in London, being stuck there for months until little Jack is healthy enough to return to the U.S., and her experience with UK national health care in 1990 (mostly very positive!). As an American somewhat frustrated by national health care in Quebec, I needed this book!
Aug 28, 2008 Rebecca rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Ann Leary has an engaging and enjoyable writing style and a great sense of humor. Her story, about her premature son Jack being born while she was stuck in London, was touching and heartfelt without straying into maudlin. I read it in one sitting, in a few hours. It is an interesting look into the English health care system and attitudes about birth and women, and Leary is just funny.
Apr 04, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable account of Ann and Denis Leary's abrupt introduction to parenthood which is disorienting enough, but they went through it 1. much earlier than expected, 2. without a source of income and 3. in another country. I am not at all familiar with Denis Leary's work (maybe a voice over in an animated movie?) but I would read anything else that Ann has written
Lesley Sullivan
May 09, 2013 Lesley Sullivan rated it really liked it
As an English person living in America, I enjoyed this book. It was interesting to read about the differences in the NICU... My son, also called Jack, spent some time in the NICU. I did feel the ending was a little rushed and sudden... although I guess it does seem rushed and sudden when you are given the ok to go home from the NICU with your baby!
Mar 03, 2013 May rated it really liked it
Very funny memoir of a potentially tragic, but ultimately triumphant forced stay in London by the family, Leary. Ann Leary gives birth to a 2 lb, baby boy, in London and gets An unlooked for education in neonatal medicine, the British National Health System and the British way of relating.
Unless you are in the early stages of pregnancy, a very enjoyable read.
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Ann Leary is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, The Good House , as well as the novel, Outtakes From a Marriage , and the memoir, An Innocent, A Broad. Her work has been translated into 18 languages and she has written for the New York Times, Ploughshares, National Public Radio, Redbook, Real Simple among other publications.
The Good House is currently in development for a feature
More about Ann Leary...

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“Nurses have nerves of steel and the mind-over-matter proficiency of a Buddhist monk. If, for example, you haltingly inform a nurse that you have just passed what appeared to be a large part of your brain into the toilet, via the birth canal, the nurse will not gag but instead will admonish you for flushing it away before showing it to her. Blood, phlegm, and mucus—all things intrauterine or subdermal, septic or dyspeptic—are attended to with efficient grace by nurses, who are the underpaid soothers and healers in every hospital, all over the world.” 1 likes
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