Book Review: The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon

The Mothers…

About the Book:

What if you gave birth to someone else’s child? A gripping family drama inspired by a real-life case of an IVF laboratory mix-up.

Two couples. One baby. An unimaginable choice.

Grace and Dan Arden are in their forties and have been on the IVF treadmill since the day they got married. Six attempts have yielded no results and with each failure a little piece of their hope dies.

Priya Laghari and her husband Nick Archer are being treated at the same fertility clinic, and while they don’t face the same time pressure as the Ardens, the younger couple have their own problems.

Priya is booked for her next IVF cycle the same day that Grace goes in for her final, last-chance embryo transfer. Two weeks later, both women get their results.

A year on, angry and heartbroken, one of the women learns her embryo was implanted in the other’s uterus and must make a devastating choice: live a childless life knowing her son is being raised by strangers or seek custody of a baby who has been nurtured and loved by another couple.

My Thoughts:

‘They were both looking at the baby, and something was coming into focus. As they processed his features, his arrival, something else became apparent. His face was covered with the waxy substance that protects babies in utero, but there was no mistaking it. His eyes were brown. His skin was dark. His hair was black. There was no biological sense to what they were seeing.’

So, this was a novel with a twist! The Mothers is a gripping read, perfect for book clubs, which is exactly what I read it for – my own book club! There are moral conundrums in abundance, and just when you think you’ve formed a solid unshakeable opinion, something else begs for consideration and you’re back to tossing up. Although, I will say, despite some wavering along the way, my initial opinion on who should ‘get the baby’ never changed. But I did find the debate over genetic rights versus gestation rights quite interesting. To be honest, it’s not something I’ve ever given much consideration to until now.

I found this novel to be written with a great deal of empathy. The characters were well crafted and I liked both of ‘the mothers’, although the second part of the novel saw Grace descend into a kind of manic fever that didn’t always ring true. She began to act in a way that wasn’t even a little bit rational, and even taking her stress, fears, and postnatal hormones into account, some of the things she did were still highly questionable.

One character I had a real issue with was Ashley – Dr. Li. I thought she acted more out of a sense of making herself feel better, a panacea for the betrayal she felt at her boyfriend/boss not acting in the manner that she prescribed that he should in the face of such a grievous error on the part of his IVF clinic. This quote is a perfect example of the drama she created out of acting in such a rash and indiscrete way:

‘A mix-up, a cover-up, an angry and powerful former lover, a phone full of evidence and a baby in the wrong hands.’

It was all a little bit dramatic and I was concerned the novel was about to take a turn into a different genre, but rest assured, it stayed the course.

By part three, the story was very much on the right track and the characters seemed to have slipped into their rightful selves. The court scenes were particularly well done, the legal parrying and genuine anguish portrayed. It didn’t take me long to read this book, I could barely put it down. It’s a good one for fans of Jodi Picoult and other likeminded moralistic stories that offer up topics for debate. I’m looking forward to discussing this one at book club!


Thanks is extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of The Mothers for review.

About the Author:

Genevieve Gannon is an award-winning Sydney-based journalist and author of four novels. She is presently the staff writer for nation’s biggest women’s magazine, The Australian Women’s Weekly, where she covers everything from cold-case murders and cults to celebrities and sports stars.
She has written in-depth political profiles, comedic personal essays and true crime pieces. Her first foray into professional writing included dating and relationship columns which she published while writing her Masters’ thesis on global terrorism and the media. She then moved to Canberra to start her news career covering local issues and politics.
Before she joined The Weekly, Genevieve was the chief court reporter for Australian Associated Press in Melbourne, covering some of the most notorious crimes of recent years. Her journalism has appeared in most of Australia’s major newspapers and she has recently won the Mumbrella Publish Journalist of the Year.

The Mothers
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released 7th January 2020

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