If you have any interest in child birth then this is the book for you. Ever since the birth of my son four years ago I have been fascinated by the different approaches to child birth around the world, but this book gave me a new perspective – the way things have changed through time.
The Birth of Love combines a present day birthing experience with flashbacks to Vienna in 1865, a time when thousands of mothers died simply because doctors didn’t think to wash their hands between performing an autopsy and helping with a birth. We discover how Professor Semmelweis, the first man to suggest that doctors should wash their hands regularly, was imprisoned in a lunatic asylum. He was driven mad by his realisation that he had killed so many women by spreading disease between them.
The book also gives a scary prediction for the future, suggesting that in 2153 no one will give birth – all babies will be grown in special genetically screened baby farms.
There isn’t much plot in this book, but I found the text gripping. The emotions of childbirth were captured perfectly:
The period atmosphere was excellent – I was instantly able to tell which time period the section was referring too without having to be told. The way everything was tied up at the end was equally impressive.
It is amazing to think how much things have changed in the last 150 years, but I struggle to believe Joanna Kavenna’s vision for the future. Can you foresee a time when women don’t give birth? This book would be a fantastic choice for a book group, particularly one containing lots of new mothers – I’d love to discuss her ideas with other people.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the themes of motherhood.