Book review: The Mothers | Genevieve Gannon

‘The Mothers’ is one of those novels that leaves you thinking about the story long after you have turned the last page.  What would you do if you gave birth to a baby that, due to an IVF mix up, belonged to someone else? What would you do if you were the biological mother of the child, yet knew the baby was being raised in a loving household? Would you seek custody or would you let sleeping dogs lie? These are the ethical dilemmas Gannon addresses in a confronting and at times, brutally honest, manner in her latest novel.

The Mothers beautifully portrays the desperation, devastation and ultimately the delight, of going through IVF, miscarriages and pregnancy. In fact, Gannon brings the two couples, Grace and Dan Arden, and Priya Lahhari and her husband, Nick Archer, to life, taking you on their journey of heartbreak and loss in a way that makes you want to pick up the phone to console them. As the novel progresses through their lives, interspersed with divorce, betrayal, loss and love, ‘The Mothers’ is at times so realistic, it can leave you sleepless, pondering the various dilemmas every chapter brings to light.

As the story unfolds, sides are taken, anger and betrayal develop and both women are left facing a heart-wrenching dilemma, in a scenario where no-one can really win. In fact, the story, which is inspired by a real-life case of an IVF mix-up, is almost impossible to put down as not only do you feel like you know the characters and want to support them in any way you can, but you also have to know the decision the women make.

‘The Mothers’ is a fast-paced novel that leaves your hand glued to the book, literally speed reading. Gannon is an award-winning Sydney-based crime and political journalist, author of four novels, and writer for The Australian Women’s Weekly. Her use of in-depth detail brings the lives of her characters into sharp focus and her personal style of prose is tinged with journalistic touches throughout.

Given the rise of the fertility treatment industry in Australia, ‘The Mothers’ is a book that leaves you wrestling with your own morals and ultimately, has you asking yourself: What makes a mother – nurture or nature?


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