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My Real Children

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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  4,921 Ratings  ·  1,021 Reviews
It's 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. "Confused today," read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know-what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don't seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Tor Books (first published May 20th 2014)
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Nataliya
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nataliya by: Algernon
Shelves: 2014-reads
It all comes down to a choice.

Sixty years ago Patricia Cowan received an angry ultimatum that pushed her onto the crossroads of life. 'Now or never!' the angry voice demanded.

“Oh Mark,” she said. “If it’s to be now or never then—"

And without much hesitation, Patricia chose "now".
Or maybe, without much hesitation, she firmly chose "never".

And each of these choices sent her life spiraling down a completely different path, these path diverging so steeply. A life of love and a life or loneliness, a
...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Jo Walton’s books always seem to come out around 3.5 stars for me: I like them, but not as much as I want to. I keep coming back because she is a good writer, and because, unlike most fantasy authors, she has a talent for telling a story in one book without padding, and for telling a unique story every time. That holds true here, though again my response was lukewarm.

Patricia Cowan is a very old woman with dementia, but her symptoms go beyond the expected: she remembers two distinct lives, two d
...more
Bradley
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I'm going to allow myself a completely biased review. I'm going to be utterly, shamelessly gonzo.

Just a warning, though: This is mostly a character study. Only the end proffers up a choice.

The rest of the time, we're given to enjoy two characters who are the same woman, Pat and Tricia, who both live in completely different realities and who make very different choices, but she they later begin to bleed together into one consciousness, but only later in life.

Sound like it's up your alley?
...more
Brendon Schrodinger
Jo Walton sure knows how to pull on my heart strings. Among Others charmed me and spoke to me on so many levels, even though I did not grow up a girl in Wales in the 1970's and 80's. Jo's new novel has the same feel as her previous, but tells a different story.

This is the story of Patricia, born in the 1930's and who grew up during World War II. Patricia falls in love with an intelligent young man who attends her university and they become engaged. But when her fiance phones to say that his fut
...more
Algernon
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

Jo Walton has won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards a couple of years ago, for her novel Among Others, a curious genre novel where the fantasy and science-fiction elements of the story were kept to minimum. The appeal was more in the character study and in the ways literature can influence and enrich a life. I will not be surprised if this new book from the author repeats the performance, and makes a good showing at the award ceremonies. The science-fiction elements are once again kept to a mi
...more
Phrynne
This book started off so well and held so much promise in the first chapter. How could one person be able to remember living two totally different lives? What could have caused this to happen? Were both lives real or was one of them imagined? Are there in fact parallel worlds? It could have been a really good book if the author had offered a satisfactory answer to these questions. Sadly she chickened out at the end and left the reader hanging. Apart from that the concept was good and the two par ...more
Nikki
So, first off: I am completely, utterly biased. Jo sent me a copy to review, I had my own pre-ordered copy several days before the book released, I love her work in general, and she's been great to me. This doesn't speak to me in the same way Among Others did, but all the same, it's wonderful. I love the way the two timelines are handled, and I love the way that last chapter brings things back into alignment. I love that I was thinking all along that I wasn't sure about the narration, and yet so ...more
Wanda
I have waffled back and forth between giving this book 4 or 5 stars—so let’s call it 4.5 stars. It really spoke to me—I loved the way Walton was so honest about the details of women’s lives and how true, at least to my life, it rang. What a great use of alternate history and different time lines! I have often speculated on how different life would be if different choices had been made through the course of my life. Thankfully, I’m pretty happy with how this particular time line has ended up for ...more
Kate
Aug 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Supposedly science fiction (as indicated by the UFO sticker on the spine of my library book), this never lived up to its first chapter. It could have been so great! Alas. Tonally, it felt less like Life After Life (which was great) and Never Let Me Go (which handled subtle sci fi in a deliciously creepy manner) and more like the preachy, morally heavyhanded Christian novels I read in my adolescence. Additionally, the whole thing read like the world's longest Christmas letter, or as another revie ...more
Jill Heather
This book was easily a four star review. Until the last chapter, which was beyond trite. I'm not sure what the opposite of stick the landing is, but that's what the ending did.

Patricia lives two lives: a happy one in a horrible world that is like ours if everything had been a little worse and an unhappy one in a wonderful world that is like ours if everything had been a little better. But both her lives end in dementia -- very well written -- and she is not entirely sure which one is real, only
...more
Megan Baxter
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find it very strange that I've now read four Jo Walton books, and the one that won a Hugo is my least favourite of the four. It's not that it's bad, but it really wasn't a book that I loved. In contrast, the other three books are ones that practically have me picking my jaw up off the floor with how good they are. Tooth and Claw convinced me that I did want to read about Victorian dragons, Farthing made me shudder with the potential reality of the vision of a fascist Britain (I don't even know ...more
Anne
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's start with the publisher's press release for My Real Children; "perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife and Ursula K Le Guin ...". So really, that should rule me out. I haven't read Life After Life, I hated The Time Traveller's Wife and I've never heard of Ursula K Le Guin. The press release goes on to say ... " writes science fiction and fantasy novels ....". Well, that's me out again. When anyone asks me what I like to read, I a ...more
Jamie Collins
Enjoyed this - it reminded me of Kate Atkinson’s novel Life After Life, although the scope is smaller.

It begins with Patricia Cowen as an elderly, confused woman in a nursing home who has memories of living two very different lives. Her timeline split when she made the critical decision to marry - or not marry - her college boyfriend. One choice led to a life of misery and repression; the other led to a life of love and adventure.

For a while I was irritated by the stark contrast between her two
...more
Emily
Ah, time-travel and the multiverse! What would our lives be like if we hadn't made that one pivotal decision (repeat ad nauseam)? It seems like there have been several books about this in the last year, with Life After Life getting the most hype. Since Jo Walton writes such clever science fiction/fantasy novels, I thought this might be great - but unfortunately, it ends up being far more mundane than interesting. The writing bumps it up to three stars, but other than that, it's very skippable.

Th
...more
Sarah
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I loved almost everything about this book. The deft imagining of two parallel timelines of the twentieth century, both different from our own, the vivid depictions of every character in both timelines, the ways in which Pat/Trish is different and the same. I basically read the whole book cover to cover yesterday. I had other things to do, but I couldn't put it down. I read the last several chapters with tears pouring down my face. I think it would have been a five s ...more
First Second Books
Patricia remembers living two lives – with two different sets of children, two different ways that the world could have gone. And it doesn’t just seem to be because she’s old and living in an assisted living facility – on different days, she gets visits from children who don’t exist on the other days.

Both of her lives went very differently, but Patricia is a wonderful character in both of them – and a fascinating (and different in both iterations) window into ways that the last century could hav
...more
Lobo
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: najlepsze, queer
Przede wszystkim chcę podziękować Leseparatist i Girl za pożyczenie swojego egzemplarza, przeprosić, że trzymałam go prawie rok, zwlekając z lekturą, i wyrazić nadzieję, że może jeszcze kiedyś coś mi pożyczą.

W każdym razie, powieść jest genialna. Wiem, że wisiała mi w aktualnych czytanych absurdalnie długi czas, ale tylko dlatego, że przesunęłam ją ze stosu książek na szafie do stosu książek przy łóżku. Sama lektura zajęła mi niecałą dobę, bo z trudem byłam w stanie się od niej oderwać. Walton
...more
Claudia
"Trish’s world was so much better than Pat’s. Trish’s world was peaceful. Eastern and Western Europe had open frontiers. There had been no nuclear bombs dropped after Hiroshima, no clusters of thyroid cancer. There had been very little terrorism. The world had become quietly socialist, quietly less racist, less homophobic. In Pat’s world it had all gone the other way."

These are the worlds in which Patricia Anne Cowan is still living. At one moment in her life she made one choice - out of two p
...more
Helen
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is lovely! It has the same concept as the movie 'Sliding Doors' with Pat and Trisha (yes, it is the same person, kinda) aging from seven to near eighty. Oh, and I cried buckets and stayed up far too late.

Sometimes I felt that the prose was rushing, it began sounding list-like, but overall very satisfying.
Amal El-Mohtar
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Reviewing this one for NPR. Very beautifully done but left me so sad.

Review is here: http://www.npr.org/2014/05/21/3121907...
Sarah
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this even more the second time around. Possibly because it was much less confusing :)
Carly Thompson
Jul 14, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Quick read in the alternate history read that is light on the alternate history angle. Walton plays with the alternate history genre but offering not just one but two alternate histories both versions of the same woman's life.

Patricia Cowan is suffering from dementia in 2015. In her nursing home, she has memories of herself in two different past lives. Her early childhood and adulthood are the same, but a fateful decision in 1949 of whether to marry her boyfriend or not leads her down two diver
...more
Melliane
Mon avis en Français

My English review

When I saw the theme of the story I admit that I was very intrigued. How could a heroine remember two different lives at the same time? Which one is real?

We thus begin the story by discovering Patricia today, a woman who is in a nursing home and can read every day the notes from the doctors saying if she is confused or not. But whatever she might read there, Patricia remembers two different lives, two lives that gave her different children and have seen vari
...more
Ben Babcock
OH. MY. GOD. WHY DID NONE OF YOU MAKE ME READ THIS BOOK SOONER???

I’ve previously read two of Jo Walton’s books. The first, Among Others , was a Hugo-nominated, Nebula-winning novel that I enjoyed but didn’t love. The second, Tooth and Claw , was a more straightforward story which was basically “what if Regency England was intelligent dragons” and, as such, was a delightfully clever romp of a book. My Real Children is a slow burn of simmering something else and it blew my mind backwards and for
...more
Wealhtheow
Patricia is old, and has been progressively forgetting more and more. She expected to face dementia like her mother did, but she didn't expect to find herself half-remembering two different lives: one in which she married a schoolmate, another in which she became a travel author. Not only does she have two different personal lives, but the worlds diverged as well--in one, nuclear warfare is an intermittent danger, while in another the world is largely at peace and civil rights have made great st ...more
Leseparatist
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, owned
ETA: I think it's currently on sale as an ebook. If you haven't read it, maybe check it out? It turned out to be one of my top 5 books of 2015, and I still think about it (and have feelings about it) regularly.

It's a terrible cliche, but this book made me laugh out loud - and then I cried for the last 30 or so pages, the whole time. The concept was great, and I loved the scope (I've always loved those sprawling books that chronicle whole lives). There were some tiny bits in the beginning where i
...more
Roxanne
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book far more than I thought I would. I should have paid attention to the synopsis, because I spent 90% of the book being confused by Pat and Trica. I was utterly miffed at the ending though....
Jess
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books
So I’ve definitely read this book before. Only it was called Life After Life and it was written by Kate Atkinson.

But I’m willing to forgive. For despite the side-eyeing and feeling of literary déjà vu, this was a pretty damn good book. I’ve liked Walton’s style for a while, and this installment definitely did not disappoint. She has a way of writing science fiction that tricks you into thinking you’re reading literary fiction, and that everything is perfectly normal… even though one woman is li
...more
Melissa
As a long-time employee of a public library, there are always going to be things that patrons do or fret about that puzzle me (if the row you're perusing ends on the bottom shelf, it carries on on the top shelf to your right; why does this perplex some folks so badly?), but for the most part I'm willing to keep my bemusement to myself - or, you know, mention it & complain about it mildly on the internet. But there is one thing that people do that makes me so freaking angry I will scream abou ...more
SpookySoto
Rating: 2.5 😑 Meh, Average, disappointing.
Emotions:Confusion, disappointment, indifference, frustration.
Recommended if you like: Stories about every day life.
Would I read something else from this author?: Maybe, but not right now.
2018’s around the year in 52 books challenge: #43, A book title that’s a whole sentence.

My real children is the story of Pat / Trish a woman living in an elderly home, suffering from dementia. She's very confused because she remembers two set of lives, one common past t
...more
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KC Queer Readers: Themes 1 6 Jan 28, 2016 02:30PM  
KC Queer Readers: My Real Children 3 18 Jan 28, 2016 02:24PM  
What's the Name o...: My Real Children by Jo Walton [s] 4 37 Dec 05, 2014 05:07PM  
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1,881 followers
Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.
“She felt her strong young body that she had never appreciated when she had it, constantly worrying that she didn't meet standards of beauty and not understanding how standards of health were so much more important.” 3 likes
“burden of unconditional loving tugging at her, their needs and problems, and her inability to keep them safe and give them what they wanted.” 1 likes
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