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Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother
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Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  779 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews
A toddler's mother, both an intimate guide and an affectionate coach, writes to a pregnant friend about the transforming experience of motherhood.
"These are letters I would have welcomed when I was pregnant," says Beth Ann Fennelly, as she seeks to go beyond the nuts and bolts or sentimentality of other parenting literature. The letters range in tone from serious to siste
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 19th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Co. (first published April 17th 2006)
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Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful, beautiful collection of letters this was! Reading it, I couldn't help but think two things: 1) We'd all be so lucky to have a poet for a friend, one who could pen us the most gorgeous sentences to look forward to in the mail such as these and 2) no one writes eloquent letters like this anymore, not in this Internet-driven, 140-character-favoring society we now live in.

What I loved most is how the letters between Beth Ann (a University of Mississippi English professor and mother
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is extremely sentimental. And I hate sentimentalism, especially about how children are magical to be around. I find books that focus on the "specialness" of being a mother to be trite and cloying, not to mention unrealistic.

But somehow, this one got through my thorny skeptical shell and was actually charming, heartfelt, and very satisfying to read.

"You are a warrior. You are a warrior, and for your whole life your body has been warming up for this great fight. These last
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Beautiful meditation on motherhood as told in letters from one poet to her former student.

This is exactly the sort of pregnancy book I’ve been looking for as an expectant mother. Fennelly gets it, the overwhelming nature of the fear and the dreams, but addresses it from the lovely vantage point of someone on the shore with one toe still dipped in. Her writing is so beautiful it made me consider picking up some of her poetry, even though I came to this book for the content rather than the style.
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Whew, it's a relief to say this book of letters is amazing. Because there were so many ways it could have gone wrong: if it were too sappy I (perhaps because I'm male and am in so many ways disconnected from the emotions of motherhood) would have been bored, if it were too trivial (by simply relaying how she spent her day each day) I would have been reminded of how much I disliked Marianne Moore's book of letters, if were too 'academic' then it wouldn't have felt like a genuine exchange between ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
**UPDATE: Just reread this for inspiration during my current pregnancy. Still really loved it.**

Maybe it's just because I'm pregnant, but I LOVED this book. The author is a poet, and the book is composed of letters she wrote to a younger friend (actually a former student of hers) who was pregnant and asked for advice on pregnancy and motherhood. Her poetic leanings come through in each letter as she frankly but lyrically writes about so many aspects of expecting and raising a baby. I underlined
Tracy Keck
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from a friend, and that feels like the only appropriate way to obtain this book--gifted from another woman. Now I can't wait to pass it on to the next soon-to-be-mama in my life. The letters from the author are equal parts amusing, moving, terrifying, and empowering. She offers the perfect balance of practical counsel and wise words of love. Countless passages led to me thinking, "That was just what I needed to hear." The perfect book to read during pregnancy, especially you ...more
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mom-reads
absolutely gorgeous. Possibly my favorite mom-book. Beautiful language paired with an honest, hopeful outlook. Tastes of southern influence, sassy womanhood, joyful mothering, and straight up thoughtful writing.
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book as a way to ponder and consider the emotional side of pregnancy, and it read quickly and easily. Glad I read it!
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful collection of letters that speak to pregnancy, motherhood, changing identity, and our hopes and fears on raising children. These letters are serious and lighthearted, contemplative and simply funny, nostalgic and hopeful. Of course, being written by a poet, these letters are just lovely to read. But loveliest of all is the warmth of friendship emanating throughout.
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rebecca by: Denise
This was the book about motherhood I have been looking for my whole pregnancy. Thanks so much to Denise for finding and recommending it. This book is a series of letters from 2004 from poet and Ole Miss professor Beth Ann Fennelly to her friend and former student Kathleen. Kathleen is living in Alaska, far from her Georgia friends and family and is expecting her first child. Beth Ann writes not a how-to-parenting guide or an overtly sentimental treatise on the joys of mothering, but an alternati ...more
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Beth Ann Fennelly is the author of Tender Hooks: Poems and Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother . A professor of English at the University of Mississippi, Fennelly lives with her husband and children in Oxford, Mississippi.
More about Beth Ann Fennelly...
“I stopped trying to rank sorrow, realized that the world has sorrow enough for all of us, and when some of it falls to you the best hope you have is letting yourself suffer through it.” 0 likes
“But the process of birthing Claire changed what I wanted to write about. It left me feeling betrayed that I'd been unprepared for the pure animal nature of birth. For the first time, I understood myself to be a mammal with a mammal's instincts and desires beneath the veneer of civilization - a mammal just as much as the opossum with its thirteen nipples.” 0 likes
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