A new favorite. It's been a while since I loved a work of fiction this much.
I think in general I just have a weakness for weird characters locked awa...moreA new favorite. It's been a while since I loved a work of fiction this much.
I think in general I just have a weakness for weird characters locked away in sprawling old mansions. (While reading I was reminded a lot of Gray Gardens, which is definitely a compliment.) Merricat is oddly sympathetic yet completely unreliable, which is my favorite kind of narrator. Constance is the heart of the family, but purposefully aloof about the state of everything around her. Uncle Julian can be surprisingly funny: ("I shall commence, I think, with a slight exaggeration and go on from there into an outright lie. Constance, my dear?" "Yes, Uncle Julian?" "I am going to say that my wife was a beautiful woman.") And I love the descriptions of Jonas the cat-- Merricat gives him emotions, and it's not hard to imagine a cat actually listening intently or reacting to things with surprise and astonishment.
The only other story I've read by Shirley Jackson was The Lottery when I was in middle school-- I remember really liking it, but that's all. Now I want to read everything she's ever written because ugh, this book was beautiful. I'm sure I'll get something new out of it with each reread.
My first, my favorite. In high school I was immediately drawn to Lady Macbeth and she was added to the list of random female characters/people with wh...moreMy first, my favorite. In high school I was immediately drawn to Lady Macbeth and she was added to the list of random female characters/people with whom I'm obsessed, e.g. the Bride of Frankenstein, Marie Antoinette and Magenta from Rocky Horror.(less)
First of all, I can understand why some reviewers think this book just perpetuates the Us vs. Them mindset against Obstetrics: it's very anti-unnecess...moreFirst of all, I can understand why some reviewers think this book just perpetuates the Us vs. Them mindset against Obstetrics: it's very anti-unnecessary intervention and filled with first-hand accounts of nightmare experiences and regrets about choosing hospital birth. With that being said, this was one of the first books I read when I became interested in birth and it absolutely changed how I think about pregnancy and birth in America. I thought it was amazing.
Lots of women get very sensitive about the critique of hospital maternal care in the U.S-- they either had a great epidural experience, recovered quickly and easily from a c-section, or experienced fetal distress that was quickly taken care of by a doctor. All of that is great and no one is trying to take the choice of a hospital birth away from them. VBAC-friendly hospitals and low intervention birthing wards absolutely exist (in certain areas, anyway). What natural/home birth advocates are trying to do is spread information that many women don't even know that they should know.
For example, Pitocin causes intense, transition-like contractions that are practically unmanageable without pain relief. If you want a med-free birth and are being induced with Pitocin, you're probably going to need an epidural just to be able to catch your breath. And it's not just the moms that are uncomfortable-- long, intense labors and super strong Pitocin contractions can easily cause fetal distress. Once you have the epidural, there's a good chance it will slow down or stall your labor, and since the hospital staff is intently watching the clock, the doctor will probably suggest a c-section for "failure to progress." These are just the basics, but before I began researching birth I knew nothing about any of this. It seems that everyone I know has had a c-section, and natural birth is treated like a funny novelty that might actually kill you. If you watch A Baby Story (ugh) you'll see what I mean.
I could go on and on, but I won't! Like another reviewer said, I never thought of birth as part of my reproductive rights until I read this book. Now I can't see it any other way-- it's absolutely a feminist and basic human rights issue. A laboring woman is in the most vulnerable position of her life, and unfortunately she's more likely to be taken advantage of by a hospital staff that's so used to administering Pitocin and ordering a section and calling it a day. Keep in mind that hospitals are a business, and c-sections cost about twice as much as vaginal birth.
Again, no one is against necessary medical interventions that save the lives of mothers and babies. No one! We just want women to be aware that for low-risk, healthy pregnancies, interventions (especially inductions) are a slippery slope that often lead to unnecessary surgery. (less)