Novels Including or Focusing on Pregnancy
April 20, 2007 7:52 AM   Subscribe

BookFilter: I’m pregnant and would love recommendations for fictional books including or centering on pregnant characters.

I'm having a hard time finding non-teen pregnancy related novels. Amazon's site and listmania searches are all but useless. It seems that all women want to read when they're pregnant are non-fiction "how to" and "what to expect" types of books. I want to read novels as well though!

I especially love historical fiction and appreciate natural childbirths, so I believe I’d really enjoy a less contemporary look at pregnancy in fiction, though if there are contemporary examples which aren’t riddled with talk of medical interventions, those would be fun too. Although I'm not opposed to reading about pregnancies with complications, I worry enough as it is, so please don't include novels that are all doom and gloom or end with the mother or baby dying during childbirth.

I hate chick-lit and I’m not really into those “funny” pregnancy books like Jenny McCarthy’s or that Girlfriend’s Guide.

Any recommendations would be much appreciated!
posted by lynda to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Rosemary's Baby captures 60s and 70s New York very well. Plus, you know, Satan. He's historical.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:00 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Contemporary, experimental writing rather than historical, but Carole Maso's The Room Lit by Roses is a luminous work which you might enjoy.
posted by vers at 8:05 AM on April 20, 2007

Any of Danielle Steel's novels always include at least one very vivid childbirth scene.
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:29 AM on April 20, 2007

I'm a historical fiction geek, and I particularly love Philippa Gregory's work... she's big on Henry VIII era. While these books don't explicitly center on pregnancy, reproduction and throne inheritance was the focal point of that reign, and as Gregory's books are from the POV of the women -- Mary Boleyn, Katherine of Aragon, Katheryn Howard, etc -- so you see inside their heads as they are pregnant, have their children, or lose their children.

Now, that said, as you probably know, that era wasn't really known for its safe childbirths (and of course Henry VIII had that little syphilis problem, causing most of his wives to miscarry several times), so it may not be the most comforting thing for you to read :)
posted by olinerd at 8:31 AM on April 20, 2007

One of my favorites is "Little Earthquakes" by Jennifer Weiner. It's a story of 4 pregnant women who all meet up in various circumstances. It's a great fiction and a book you will want to read in one sitting.
posted by MeetMegan at 8:34 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

Well, technically one character's not pregnant, but the other 3 are. Sorry about that.
posted by MeetMegan at 8:35 AM on April 20, 2007

Three Junes is one of the loveliest novels that I've read during the last few years. One of the main characters, Fern, is pregnant and the interactions that she has with the other characters around her pregnancy are very poignant. I especially liked this book when I was pregnant.
posted by jeanmari at 8:47 AM on April 20, 2007

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell.
posted by bryon at 8:56 AM on April 20, 2007

Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions (which still makes me laugh out loud). However, it is neither historical or fiction.

I have never read The Kommandant's Girl or The Red Tent, but check out the reviews because they might fit what you are looking for.
posted by jeanmari at 8:57 AM on April 20, 2007

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, has several pregnant characters. Including, of course, Morgaine with her half-brother Arthur's child. It's the Arthurian legend from a woman's point of view. Marvelous book.
posted by bryon at 9:05 AM on April 20, 2007

The Birth House by Ami McKay is about the advent of a "modern" maternity hospital and anti-midwifery doctor who are threatening to get rid of the town's midwife/traditional healer. It's set during WWI in a small Nova Scotia town.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:41 AM on April 20, 2007

If you're in the mood for something difficult but good, you might try John Barth's The Tidewater Tales. It isn't *about* pregnancy- it's about literature and writing- but the female lead is in her eighth month, so it's a primary focus of the story. A happy ending, if I recall.
posted by JamesToast at 10:11 AM on April 20, 2007

Tidewater Tales: I just remembered that there's a story within the story that is sad, poignant, and historical.
posted by JamesToast at 10:18 AM on April 20, 2007

"Gut Symmetries", by Jeanette Winterson. It's a love story told in the language of myth and quantum theory, focusing often on the actual births of its characters. A quick read, too.
posted by hermitosis at 10:25 AM on April 20, 2007

Barbara Kingsolver's Bean Trees and Alice Walker's The Color Purple.
posted by serazin at 11:24 AM on April 20, 2007

My favourite birth scene in fiction is probably the one in A Suitable Boy. It's not at all the focus of the book, but it rang very true to me.
posted by rdc at 11:31 AM on April 20, 2007

Seconding "Mists of Avalon".

Where the Heart Is" by Billie Letts.
posted by ScarletSpectrum at 12:38 PM on April 20, 2007

Sorry, apparently I can't close a tag.
posted by ScarletSpectrum at 12:38 PM on April 20, 2007

I just finished The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant. It's feminist historical fiction of a high order. Several characters are pregnant, and there's a powerful birth scene. Also lots about art and creativity in general.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:59 PM on April 20, 2007

If you like historical fiction, Diana Gabaldon wrote a great book, Outlander. The main character is not pregnant - one of the secondary characters is, and there is a memorable scene where she describes what her husband finds sexy about her pregnancy. (Keep in mind that this is from the point of view of an Irish countrywoman living in the 1500s). Anyway, this book and its subsequent sequels are very fun books - time travel, romance, sex, war...
posted by lucyleaf at 1:49 PM on April 20, 2007

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy. Not a novel, but it is a pretty fascinating historical look at the ways/methods used to help women give birth through the centuries. I'm only 31, and I know my mom was knocked out somehow when she went into labor and I was pulled out with forceps. That might explain a few things. Anyway, it's fascinating how things have changed in just those few years, and it's fascinating to go back even more in history...
posted by printchick at 2:06 PM on April 20, 2007

Plainsong is one of the loveliest novels I've ever read.
posted by grumblebee at 3:48 PM on April 20, 2007

Lucyleaf, the first volume of the Diana Gabaldon series is set mostly during Culloden-- 1740's Scotland.
posted by brujita at 11:57 PM on April 20, 2007

Lucyleaf, the first volume of the Diana Gabaldon series is set mostly during Culloden-- 1740's Scotland.

Shoot, I knew I was going to get that wrong, trying to go on memory.
posted by lucyleaf at 7:44 PM on May 1, 2007

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