Review: The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon

Title: The Mothers

Author: Genevieve Gannon

Published: January 7th 2020, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read January 2020, courtesy Allen & Unwin


My Thoughts:

Poignant and provocative, The Mothers is Genevieve Gannon’s fourth novel.

Shattered to learn her husband, Nick, has been unfaithful, Priya Archer (née Laghari) decides giving up on her marriage doesn’t mean she has to give up on her dream of becoming a mother and impulsively decides to move ahead with a planned IVF procedure, opting to use a sperm donor. Priya is upset when the procedure fails, but decides against a second attempt, choosing to focus on rebuilding her life on her own.

After a half dozen failed IVF procedures, Grace Arden, and her husband Dan, are thrilled when they learn their final attempt with their one remaining embryo has taken, and Grace is finally pregnant. As Grace cradles their son, Sam, for the first time all the heartache seems worth it, but as the days pass it becomes clear that something isn’t quite right.

Told in three parts, The Mothers focuses on the lives of the two couples during the period before conception, after the arrival of baby Sam, and during the court case that develops when Priya learns the Arden’s son is genetically her own. It’s an emotional exploration of themes such as infertility, marriage, and family, but ultimately this is a book about motherhood.

Gannon examines some challenging dilemmas when Priya discovers Grace has given birth as a result of an error at the IVF clinic, exploring a myriad of questions about how motherhood is defined by genetics, biology and socialisation. Sam is the genetic product of Priya and the sperm donor, but Grace ‘grew’ him during her pregnancy and gave birth to him. The question of who has the right to custody is further complicated by the circumstances of the conception and wider cultural issues, presenting a unique ethical quandary. With empathy and respect, the author skilfully explores both sides of the situation and the very difficult circumstances Priya and Grace and Dan, are forced to confront in their desire to raise Sam.

The Mothers is a thought-provoking and emotive novel, and I imagine it will be particularly engaging as the focus for discussion in a bookclub.


Read an Extract

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP: $29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository


Also reviewed at Book’d Out by Genevieve Gannon

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 1girl2manybooks
    Jan 07, 2020 @ 21:14:37

    I’m keen to read this one!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Amanda Barrett
    Jan 08, 2020 @ 09:38:25

    What a great review! I’m so glad I have this on the review pile too!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Lindsi
    Jan 08, 2020 @ 13:51:19

    I don’t think this one would be a good fit for me, but I’m happy you enjoyed it! I love books that make you think and question what you already know. Lovely review!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    Liked by 1 person


  4. fuonlyknew
    Jan 08, 2020 @ 16:23:02

    I’d love to read this. Thanks for sharing your awesome review.



  5. Priya
    Jan 08, 2020 @ 16:39:03

    That’s a very interesting topic.. It goes into my tbr.. Nicely reviewed!

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Cleo @ Mysteries and Memoirs
    Jan 08, 2020 @ 23:49:33

    What a fascinating story! I love to read something like this, albeit fiction, that makes you think about a current even topic. This has really happened before and at the time of reading something in the news way back I tried to decide what side I’d come down on. I think I decided on the gestating mother, because isn’t a child also the child of the person who nurtures them. I know many others would disagree, but that is my opinion anyway.

    Liked by 1 person


  7. susanblogginboutbooks
    Jan 09, 2020 @ 00:27:50

    Oooh, this one sounds intriguing! It does sound like it would be an especially good read for book clubs – lots to discuss. Thanks for the heads-up – I hadn’t heard of this one before.


    Liked by 1 person


  8. BermudaOnion
    Jan 09, 2020 @ 03:28:11

    Wasn’t there a case like this in the news several years ago? This sounds heartbreaking.



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