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Morrison, Daphne.

Vancouver, New Star Books, 1987. 224pp, paper, ISBN 0-919573-72-X (cloth) $17.95, 0-919573-71-1 (paper) $9.95.CIP

Reviewed by Esther Hutchison

Volume 16 Number 1
1988 January

When Daphne Morrison became pregnant she found many books telling her what to do, but none describing the experience from the woman's point of view. In this collection of frank, first-person accounts, a variety of women describe their experiences relating to pregnancy and such related topics as miscarriage, abortion, birth control and adoption. They also describe their treatment by the medical establishment and by their husbands, lovers and relatives.

Daphne Morrison has worked in England as a features writer for a national women's magazine, and has researched women's health issues for the Vancouver Women's Health Collective.

The author deliberately set out to interview women whose experiences differed from her own, and she presents a variety of ages, from a woman who had an illegal abortion in the 1930ís, to an unmarried teenager whose child was born after the interview. She has also chosen a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, and we see how these have influenced the experiences. An East Indian woman found it painfully embarrassing just to undress for her male doctor. A Spanish-speaking woman's Spanish doctor insisted on speaking to her only in English because he wanted to practise his English. Morrison also includes the experiences of a lesbian couple with artificial insemination, and their problems with joint parenting.

Photographs by Robin Barnett are included in a brief chapter at the end of the book. This section looks like an afterthought, and would probably have been more effective either part way through the text, or interspersed among the stories, although these arc not photos of the women interviewed. Readers may be surprised by the strong thread of ambivalence which runs through the stories, even when the child is most wanted. Many of the women said that they had never before discussed parts of their stories with anyone. Their frankness, while a strong point of the book, will probably limit its use. Recommended with the above reservations.

Esther Hutchison, Spruce Grove, Alta.
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