by Lila Karp - £14.99 The Feminist Press (2007)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781558615380 | ISBN 10: 1558615385
This is a startling stream-of-consciousness novel that engages questions of feminism which are as relevant today as when the novel was first published in 1969.
Shifting beautifully between past and present, consciousness and dreams, Lila Karp explores the complex psyche of thirty-two year old Harriet Battenberg as she painfully reflects on her life while in the midst of a fourteen hour labour. Unmarried and entering premature labour during a holiday in her native New York, Harriet meditates on questions of motherhood, marriage and identity.
Vividly told scenes of her past reveal how her history, marked by an embittered relationship with her mother; a series of unfulfilling relationships with men; a miscarriage and an abortion; and an ongoing struggle to understand what being a woman means for her, has brought Harriet to this moment.
It is difficult to find authors who deal as candidly with a woman's experience of childbirth as Karp, who writes with a rare, disquieting honesty of its physical and emotional trauma without having her characters dip into self-pity. Karp's wit and unique literary style make her a distinct voice amongst writers from the 1960s U.S. feminist movement, a voice which still resounds today for everyone desperately fighting to find themselves and write their own histories, and futures.
This is a shocking and absorbing story which magnificently applies a feminist perspective to deconstruct the fundamental questions of womanhood, autonomy, and the very essence of human existence.
(Price & availability last checked: July 2018)