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Eleven Hours

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,855 Ratings  ·  275 Reviews
Lore arrives at the hospital alone—no husband, no partner, no friends. Her birth plan is explicit: she wants no fetal monitor, no IV, no epidural. Franckline, a nurse in the maternity ward—herself on the verge of showing—is patient with the young woman. She knows what it’s like to worry that something might go wrong, and she understands the pain when it does. She knows as ...more
Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published May 2nd 2016 by Tin House
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Emily May
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, 2016
“In her questioning eyes her story of pain is spilling silently out. But Lore does not want to know that story. There is time, right now, for her pain only.”


Phew, now we got that out of the way: this tiny book was pretty amazing. I spotted it around mid-May and was curious. But I was also 37 weeks pregnant and it seemed like it might be a bad idea. I'm glad I paid attention to that gut feeling because Eleven Hours is sure to scare the hell out of any expect
Richard Derus
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 4.5* of five, rounded up

The Publisher Says: Lore arrives at the hospital alone—no husband, no partner, no friends. Her birth plan is explicit: she wants no fetal monitor, no IV, no epidural. Franckline, a nurse in the maternity ward—herself on the verge of showing—is patient with the young woman. She knows what it’s like to worry that something might go wrong, and she understands the pain when it does. She knows as well as anyone the severe challenge of childbirth, what it does to the mi
Jul 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, contemporary
“She’s in labor,” Franckline explains, calmly, and the articulation of the obvious makes the disproving woman’s eyes lose their sharpness. She tips her head in acquiescence and turns to her friend. “She’s going to have a baby.”

This was a strange little book - less than 200 pages, following two pregnant women as they become close at a hospital where one is about to give birth. There were no chapter breaks and the narratives flickered from the past to present.

I really liked the compelling writin
Book Riot Community
The currently pregnant should not read this book. Everybody else should at least consider it. It’s a powerful portrayal of childbirth, about what happens when expectations don’t meet reality and what it’s like to face giving birth on one’s own. With the exception of flashbacks that explain the lives of the two main characters — one woman in labor and another working as her nurse — the entire novel takes place in the hospital. It’s the best, most-detailed depiction of labor I’ve ever read. I wish ...more
Jessica Woodbury
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was complaining with some reader friends about how there are hardly any books that write about pregnancy or birth in a way that feels real when one of them mentioned ELEVEN HOURS as an exception. I'm frustrated with how pregnant women are treated in books and movies (always noble, always rubbing their bellies) and Tin House kindly sent me a copy when they saw our conversation. This book is just what it appears to be, the story of one woman's birth through her own eyes and the eyes of her nurse ...more
Nov 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Birth is the world’s most universal experience. We’ve either given birth or we’ve been born…yet strangely, there are no novels that I know of that focus on the labor experience.

Pamela Erens takes on that experience in Eleven Hours. I’ve read this author before – loved her debut novel, The Understory, and her second book, The Virgins. I know I can count on Ms. Erens to create poignant and unflinchingly vivid scenes.

She does succeed in her depiction of Lore Tannenbaum, a 31-year-old single mother
I am a home birth midwife. I liked this book a lot...for a time. it presented a very realistic view of hospital birth. and the back stories of these two women were very interesting and drew me in. the end became alarmist and presented a very rare emergency, which made me mad because it feels like it just plays into the scare tactics done to women to keep them in line.

a good and quick read though.
Claire Fuller
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really powerful story about labour, and why Lore is delivering her baby alone, and the worries the midwife has both for the woman she is looking after, and herself. It was the most perfect (and excruciating) description of pain I've ever read.

Highly recommended, but perhaps, if you're pregnant, only read it after you've delivered.
Beautifully written book. I randomly found it on the New Books shelf at my local library. Strange that I even wanted to read it, since I don't have much desire to be pregnant or have children. But this book totally pulled me in and even made me cry a little! I felt like I was really there, going through everything with the characters.
Sophfronia Scott
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Received this book as an ARC from Tin House Books.

Destiny would have it that when two people meet, especially when they are of disparate personalities and cultures as Lore and Franckline, the main characters created by Pamela Erens for her third novel, Eleven Hours, they have something to learn from each other. Perhaps there’s a need, a bit of karma they have to work out between themselves. Lore, a young white teacher, arrives alone at the maternity ward of a New York City hospital with a birth
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I feel safe in saying that every woman who has been responsible for growing a fetus for approximately nine months and then delivering that precious new person into the world will find this short novel, Eleven Hours precious. Most women who have been pregnant remember that time as one that is unique, life changing, and both joyous and full of fear, and sometimes desperation. A young woman named Lore enters a NYC hospital alone and meets her delivery nurse Franckline, who is pregnant, early days, ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I second the other reviewers who recommend not reading this if you're pregnant or hoping to be sometime soon. No pulling punches here. But at six weeks postpartum, I was absolutely riveted by this lightning-fast account of a woman named Lore's labor where we gradually learn more and more about her background, as well as the background of her nurse, a Haitian immigrant. I found so many things in here to be spot on as I reflected on my labor, like Lore's irritation with being tethered to a fetal m ...more
Liz Kay
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I fell in love with Erens' writing in The Virgins, and while this book is a completely different animal, what it shares with her previous novel is that once again, Erens has set herself a seemingly impossible task. In The Virgins, Erens chose for her narrator a character that existed only on the obsessive periphery of the protagonists, and must admit then that much of the story is only his own invention. In Eleven Hours, Erens limits herself to only the stretch of time that spans a hospital labo ...more
Len Joy
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a masterpiece. A recently separated woman, Lore, checks into the hospital alone to deliver her first baby. She is assisted by Haitian immigrant nurse, Franckline. This book is literally told in real time. It takes about eleven hours to read (I’m slow) and it is probably one of the few books where the present tense is clearly the right tense to use.

Erens skillfully weaves the two women’s stories together. We glide from one perspective to the other, and in those pauses between contraction
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, library
Now if you're pregnant (especially w your 1st), don't read this. And as someone who's already had two, it was still a very emotional read. Lore arrives at the hospital, all alone, feeling like she's going to give birth at any second but she's just 3cm along. Her nurse Franckline is herself pregnant, something she wasn't expecting and something she worries about. Such lyrical writing as we follow these 2 women through labor, through their past
3.5 stars

I tried to escape my comfort zone for a day or two with this book, because it deals with a topic (pregnancy) that I tend to avoid. Even writing that word made me cringe.

I'm writing this a week after I finished it and it's difficult to even recall the names of the two women involved. It was one of those books that you really enjoyed while you were reading it but then you realize that something very important was missing; the whole POINT of this novel is non-existent.

We have two women,
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
Tin House Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Eleven Hours, in exchange for an honest review.

Lore Tannebaum has arrived at the hospital to have her baby, but she is adamant that it be on her terms. No fetal monitor and no IV, she insists. Franckline, her labor and delivery nurse who is pregnant herself, helps to see Lore through the eleven hours at the hospital before the birth.

I just never felt any connection to the characters in Eleven Hours. The constant shifts in focus
It was fantastic, and I'm truly grateful I'm not pregnant as I read this. I delivered my boy 2.5 years ago, and still winced with remembered pain with every contraction Lore faced. It's a partial character study which mentions the possibility of having not enough time to know anyone's story within the time allotted after the start of labor pains until the delivery. But we still get enough of an insight into the two women; Lore, the single mom-to-be in labor, and Franckline, her nurse, also pregn ...more
Laura Nowlin
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have two minor complaints about this book. Spacing could have been used to clarify when we were moving from one main characters head to another's. There were points where the narration shifted perspective so suddenly that was confusing and took me out of the story.
My second complaint is that a *little* more closure would be nice. I understand that thematically, much of the book is about how we're all just ships passing in the night, but again, just a tiny bit more resolution would have bee
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. The writing is clearly skillful, but the stories behind the characters themselves didn't feel fully realized. I had hoped to get more out of Frankline's story, but it seemed that most of the tension was in Lore's. Lore's backstory with Asa and Julia was interesting and brought together many conflicting emotions after a breakup, but her feelings overall and how it manifested in her pregnancy seemed unresolved.
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a very smart book in many ways. The frame of eleven-hours, the two interesting young women in different stages of relationships and possible motherhood, and the way the past is weaved together with the present. Pamela Erens shows not only the women, but also where they come from, and gradually, their inner worlds open up along with the body that gives birth. The ending is admirable-it leaves this fictional world exactly at the right point to keep the readers still involved.
Jessica Jernigan
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and ugly and devastating. I can’t remember ever having such a strong physical reaction to prose before. Obviously, childbirth is a visceral subject, but Erens does not flinch. Not once. This is a heroic work of fiction.
Jul 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Extremely quick read. I enjoyed what I read, but felt like I read the first half of a book that I'll never know the ending to.
Tudor Vlad
Jul 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
The realism in this book is terrifying and sickening.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
No matter what any imaginative artist can come up with, there is no greater drama than childbirth. This novella follows two women - one of which is a young single woman giving birth, and the other - a Haitian-born nurse who takes care of her during the labor, and is also pregnant after already losing two babies. The meeting between the two strangers quickly becomes a connection of heart and soul. The two begin to communicate without need of words as the labor progresses. We also get to hear a li ...more
I'm always drawn to books about childbirth and I really wanted to like this book a lot, but I just didn't really enjoy it. It did capture me enough though that I had to finish reading it to find out what happens, but then it left me hanging with no definite ending. I am not a fan of this kind of ending. I feel like I invest a lot of time into characters and I want to know what happens to them in the end so I feel like I can put the book away in peace.
I did not so much enjoy the birthing main cha
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, e-book, chick-lit
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Yes, this book's narrative takes place over the harrowing delivery of a baby. Yes, it's about pregnancy and what it is to be a woman. This book is only about pregnancy on the surface. It's really about our humanity-- race, emotional survival, what happens when two strangers find themselves in an intimate situation, our relationship to our a physical bodies. Just because it is about pregnancy does not designate it as a "woman's book" (it's for anyone who wants to feel something real), nor is it s ...more
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Beautifully weaved story that has a relatively accurate description of labor and the process of giving birth. Interesting read in general, but there are moments when the main character's self knowledge feels overly insightful in comparison to her prideful and self-defeating actions and choices. Poses questions about morality and pride, the inflexibility of human capacity to adapt to concepts that buck societal norms when presented abruptly. The stubborn nature of pride and the deeply dysfunction ...more
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Pamela Erens’s third novel, Eleven Hours, was published by Tin House Books (US) and Atlantic Books (UK) in 2016 and by Keter (Israel) in 2017.

Eleven Hours was named a Best Book of 2016 by NPR, The New Yorker, Kirkus, Literary Hub, Entropy, and the Irish Independent. It received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal, and was lauded by publications ranging from The New
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“In her questioning eyes her story of pain is spilling silently out. But Lore does not want to know that story. There is time, right now, for her pain only.” 3 likes
“How naive Lore had been, despite being the daughter of a father no one spoke of, despite the strange, incomplete conversations at her mother’s deathbed; how again and again she was caught up short by the discovery that other people had stories they didn’t tell, or told stories that weren’t entirely true. How mostly you got odd chunks torn from the whole, impossible truly to understand in their damaged form.” 2 likes
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