A Better Woman: A Memoir of Motherhood

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Washington Square Press, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 257 pages
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"If I had known...what giving birth was to cost me,

would I have dared to fall pregnant?

Yes, yes. A thousand times, yes.


Accalaimed novelist Susan Johnson found, at age thirty-five, that her arms began to feel "empty." Soon her desire to have a baby became overwhelming. She had no inkling then what motherhood would cost her -- or give her. But as she went on to experience pregnancy and birth, and their impact on her marriage, her health, and her heart, she recorded it all in a black-and-red notebook. Here, Susan Johnson takes that raw, potentially wrenching material and creates an inspirational work of autobiography.

In a hauntingly lovely account, Johnson portrays a woman transformed by motherhood, and a writer forever changed by a widening chasm of experience. Simple acts such as getting her newborn to breastfeed prove unexpectedly difficult. The husband she adores becomes a sparring partner, their newly purchased home a disaster, her time to write nonexistent. Then, just when she believes she may be getting her life together, she becomes pregnant again.

Soon ecstasy jostles against bewilderment, rage, and despair when she develops a rare complication of childbirth. Facing major surgery, Susan calls herself "a one-woman catastrophe, a small ruined country." She is also going to bed at night planning what she will write in the morning, burning to get words on paper.

The mesmerizing narrative she created is "A Better Woman," a chronicle of love and courage, by turns poetic and searingly graphic. It should be required reading for every woman hungry to give birth -- and every mother yearning to have her deepest feeling heard.

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A better woman: a memoir

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Before she had children, Australian novelist Johnson believed that she could easily juggle pen and paper with formula and nappies. But the real story here is not so much her attempt to manage ... Read full review


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About the author (2002)

Susan Johnson was born in 1956 and grew up in Australia. She is a former journalist. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

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