The Baby Trail

( 15 )


Sinéad Moriarty poured all her experiences in trying to get pregnant for the first time into her debut novel The Baby Trail. Her heroine Emma Hamilton discovers that the road to conception is far from straightforward and her story is a moving and funny exploration of an experience so central to so many women's lives. The novel established Sinéad as a major talent in the tradition of Marian Keyes. TicktockticktockTICKTOCK ... That's Emma Hamilton's biological clock you can hear. She wants a baby and she wants one ...

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The Baby Trail: A Novel

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Sinéad Moriarty poured all her experiences in trying to get pregnant for the first time into her debut novel The Baby Trail. Her heroine Emma Hamilton discovers that the road to conception is far from straightforward and her story is a moving and funny exploration of an experience so central to so many women's lives. The novel established Sinéad as a major talent in the tradition of Marian Keyes. TicktockticktockTICKTOCK ... That's Emma Hamilton's biological clock you can hear. She wants a baby and she wants one NOW. But when Mother Nature refuses to play ball, Emma decides to give her a prod - or two. Soon her life is a roller-coaster of post-sex handstands (you can't argue with gravity), hormone-inducing (sanity-reducing) drugs and a veritable army of probing specialists (torturers, more like). It's out with the booze and spontaneous sex, in with green tea and ovulation tests. Emma couldn't have conceived that the road to pregnancy would turn into the mother of all journeys. But she's finding out that once you're on the baby trail, nothing is sacred - and one way or another, life will never be the same again ... Sinéad Moriarty's novels have sold over half a million copies in Ireland and the UK and she is a four times nominee for the popular fiction Irish Book Award. She has won over readers and critics telling stories that are funny, humane, moving and relevant to modern women. The Baby Trail was Sinéad's first novel and her distinctive voice, and trademark mix of light and shade, announced that a fabulous new talent had arrived. Sinéad Moriarty lives with her family in Dublin. Her other titles are: A Perfect Match; From Here to Maternity; In My Sister's Shoes; Keeping It In the Family (also titled Whose Life Is It Anyway?); Pieces of My Heart; Me and My Sisters and This Child of Mine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hilarious and touching. Sinead Moriarty is a fun, fresh new voice in women's fiction."
— Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries series and Every Boy's Got One

"At last, a book that's more chick wit than chick lit."
Closer magazine (UK)

"Pregnant with classically Irish humor, wit, and guts."
— Valerie Frankel, author of The Girlfriend Curse

"Very funny."
Heat magazine (UK)

"Mix Bridget Jones with Charlotte from Sex and the City and you've got Emma, the charming heroine of The Baby Trail...a funny, feisty guide through the realities and hilarities of twenty-first-century baby-making."
— Jennifer Weiner, author of In Her Shoes and Goodnight Nobody

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743496773
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 818,372
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

The Baby Trail was an instant smash hit and the first of Sinéad Moriarty's No 1 bestelling novels. She lives in Dublin with her husband and three children.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My New Year's resolution two years ago was to get pregnant. Top result, I thought, as the previous year I had given up drink forever after dislocating my shoulder in a dive bar on New Year's Eve — well, New Year's Day at 6:00 A.M., to be precise. I lasted a week. I thought that this resolution would be a lot more realistic and should be a piece of cake to achieve — off the pill, some sex and Bob's your uncle.

It was high time I had a baby. I was thirty-three and although I may have felt — and, truth be told, behaved — like I was twenty-five, it was time to knuckle down and get up the duff. I told James later that night when he came home from work. He seemed pleased — if a little surprised that I was feeling broody as I'd rough-handled his nephew over the Christmas holidays. I reminded him that little Thomas had turned the TV off at a key moment in The Sound of Music, the scene in the cemetery when the Nazis are chasing the von Trapps — I mean, come on, it's a life-or-death situation. And I had merely nudged him gently aside. It wasn't my fault that the child had no sense of balance, fell down and hit his head on the video recorder.

"That's not how Imogen saw it," said James.

"Well, Imogen is highly strung, uptight and neurotic," I said, smiling sweetly at James — who is very handsome, by the way.

When I first introduced him to my family I could see they were surprised, shocked, even. Before James, I had gone for a guy I thought I could save — you know, the tortured artist, unshaven, grubby and dirt poor. But then I met James and he saved me — from myself, mostly.

He's tall, has chocolate-colored hair, lovely brown eyes and a killer smile. His nose is a bit big, but it looks good on a man. It did worry me, though: what if we had a daughter and she inherited it? Mind you, they can do wonders with surgery.

James's sister-in-law, Imogen, was a nightmare and had never liked me. She had wanted James to marry an English rose, some boring, horsey private-school chick just like her, who would sit around in twinsets and pearls talking about ponies, gymkhanas and "maaahvelous" recipes. She was horrified when James produced me — Irish, passionate about everything, opinionated and, worst of all, a redhead.

To be honest I don't think James's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, were too thrilled with me either. They had hoped that James would only spend a year in Ireland, training the Leinster rugby squad, but instead he met me and decided to stay for good. However, after three years of me studiously scraping my hair back into velvet bows and donning "respectable clothes" when we went over to see them, they had come 'round. I also held my tongue — unusual for me — when Mr. Hamilton talked about ridding England of its immigrants. "Send the lot of them home and let us get on with it. Coming over here, sponging off our government, taking our jobs and then whingeing about it. Send them all back, I say. That'll stop the buggers."

I was going to point out that two of my uncles and my brother were immigrants and ask if he wanted me to bugger off right now or would it be all right if I finished my apple crumble? But then I looked at James, who was shaking his head and mouthing "no," so I thought better of it. Besides, Daughter-in-Law of the Year, Imogen, had piped up, "I so agree, Jonathan, this country just isn't the same anymore."

James thought Imogen was "nice" and refused to criticize her out of loyalty to his brother, Henry. There were only the two of them in the family, so it was important that they got on. Henry had christened me Paddy (better than Spud, but still not terribly endearing) on our first meeting. Despite this little hiccup we got on quite well in an odd sort of way. He was obsessed with horse racing and seemed to think that because I was Irish I'd been born and reared in stables — a bit like Jesus, I suppose, if you think about it. He was always asking me what I thought about horses and jockeys I'd never heard of. I have an unfortunate habit of never admitting I know nothing about a topic. Ask me any question, no matter how obscure, and I'll have a shot at answering it. So Henry and I had long chats about horses, bloodlines, jockeys and trainers. We once had an hour-long conversation on what it was about Dawn Run that had captured the hearts of the racing public. Henry reckoned it was her refusal to give in.

"She was an extremely tough horse, all right," I said, nodding and praying he wouldn't ask me any direct questions about her career history.

"Wasn't she?" said Henry. "That win in the Gold Cup when she was headed between the last two fences and just managed to get her nose in front again on the run-in really summed up her desire to win."

"I'll never forget it," I lied.

"But what a tragic end to a glittering career."

What did he mean "tragic"? Hadn't he just said the stupid horse had won the race? "Oh, it was desperate," I said, shaking my head and sighing.

"So brave of her to try to repeat her earlier victory in the Grande Course de Haies at Auteuil. A broken neck. What a way to go! She was definitely one of the brightest lights to grace the National Hunt," said Henry, his eyes misting.

"So sad," I agreed, thinking, Come on, Henry, get a grip — it was a bloody horse, not a member of your family.

Anyway, back to Imogen: When I grumbled on about her being a witch, James jumped in to defend her: "She may be a little overprotective, but that's only to be expected in first-time mothers. I'm sure you'll be the same."

"James, I think it's fair to say that I'll never be anything like Imogen. I am not boring, uptight or neurotic."

"No, darling, you're spontaneous and just a little insane."

"Better mad than boring. I'll make a brilliant mother though, won't I?"

"Yes, darling, you will. Now, shouldn't we stop talking and get down to baby-making?"


A week later I phoned home to tell my mother about our decision to have a baby.

"Hi, Dad, it's me."

"Oh, hi, how are you?"

"Grand, you?"

"Grand. How's himself?"

"Fine. Any news?"

"Not really. Well, your sister's in the doghouse. Some poor eejit turned up here on Friday night in a dinner suit with a big flower and a box of chocolates to take her to a ball, but she was off at some party in Cork. The poor fool was sitting here like a lemon while we tried to call her. In the end your mother felt so sorry for him she offered to go to the ball herself. That got rid of him, all right," said Dad, as we both giggled. "Oh, here's Barbara now. I'll let her fill you in."

"See you, Dad."


"Hi, Babs. What's going on?"

"You mean apart from our mother losing the plot completely and accusing me of ruining her life? God, I forgot about the poxy ball. What's the big deal? He's a total nerd anyway. I only said yes because he cornered me in the library and I couldn't think of a good excuse quickly enough."

"In the library? Were you lost?"

"You're hilarious. I was trying to find Jenny so I could cog her notes. Anyway, I went to Cork to a mad party and had a great time. I would have had a shite time at that crappy ball."

"So you didn't forget?"

"Well, okay, not really. But if you saw the state of him you'd understand."

"Bit mean, though."

"Yeah, I know, I know. I'll go and hunt him out in the library tomorrow and apologize."

"Careful! The library twice in one week? Bad for the image."

"I'll wear a wig. Oh Jesus, here's Mum. I'm off before she starts spraying me with holy water."

"Hi, Mum," I said, trying to stifle giggles.

"Funny, is it? Funny to bring disgrace on your family? Some poor young lad all dickied up with a beautiful corsage turns up at the door to take her to a ball and she's off gallivanting at some rave party in Cork. Well, the poor boy nearly died, as did we. We had to bring him in and feed him stiff drinks. He was as red as a beetroot. I was mortified myself and, to make matters worse, it turns out he's Liam and Eileen McGarry's son."

At this point my mother paused for dramatic effect, but it was lost on me: I had no idea who these people were. "Who?"

"You know, Liam and Eileen McGarry from the golf club and isn't Liam the captain this year, so the whole place will be talking about what an ignorant so-and-so we've raised. I'd say that boy will never go outside his front door again. It's a dangerous age for boys, you know — the percentage of suicides among boys between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five is very high."

I decided to step in. "Mum, relax. I'm sure it'll be fine. She's going to apologize to him."

"Pffff. Anyway, enough about that young pup. How are you?"

"Great, thanks. Actually, I've decided to have a baby."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I've decided to have a baby. I'm going to get pregnant."

"Lord, Emma. I hope you haven't broadcast this around."

"What do you mean, broadcast?"

"Well, these things are best kept private. Why does everyone nowadays feel they have to tell the world their private business? I blame that Oprah Winefrid myself."

"It's Winfrey."


"Her name is...oh, never mind. Just think, this time next year you'll be a granny."

"Could be."


"It doesn't always happen overnight, you know, especially at your age. It's not always that straightforward, Emma."

"Well, thanks for all your support. Hopefully at the grand old age of thirty-three my ovaries haven't totally shriveled up."

"There's no need to be dramatic. Just keep your business private and get on with it."

"Fine, I will. I'd better go now and hop on James before my biological clock stops."

Your cycle is twenty-eight days, so you should ovulate (isn't that just the most cringe-making word? It sounds like something fish do) midway. On day fourteen, when James came home from work, I was waiting for him.

Instead of greeting him from my usual horizontal position on the couch, eating chocolate biscuits in my pajamas and Gap hoodie, I was waiting for him in the bedroom in my garter belt and stockings, which hadn't been trotted out since our honeymoon a year ago. I had lit scented candles and left only a small lamp on in the corner of the room. My thighs and stomach look a lot better by candlelight — believe me.

Stunned not to find me on the couch, James walked into the bedroom, sniffing the air suspiciously. When he saw me in my garter belt he began to look really worried. "Okay, what have you done? You crashed the car, didn't you?"

"No, I did not. I just thought this would be a nice surprise for you. Make a change."

James sat down on the bed and took my hand in his. "It's all right, darling. The most important thing is that you weren't injured. Just tell me how bad the damage is."

"James! I did not crash the car." I was getting frustrated now and the garter belt was digging into my waist. I had starved myself for weeks before the wedding and that was a lot of meals ago. "I wanted to surprise you and inject some fun into our midweek routine."

"Fine, but is there anything you want to tell me? I promise, no matter how bad it is, I won't get annoyed."


"Aha, I know. Your parents have separated and your mother's moving in with us?"

"No, they have not. What do you mean, my parents have separated? Do you think they might? Why should they? They get on really well."

"Emma, I'm just trying to figure out what you've done."

"For goodness' sake, stop being so suspicious. I just felt like spicing things up a bit. And, besides, I'm ovulating." I had to admit it before he cast any more aspersions on my parents' marriage. I thought they seemed happy enough. Granted, they weren't Mr. and Mrs. Mike Brady, but they got on all right.

James looked a bit taken aback. "What?"

That's the problem with men who've been brought up in all-male households and go to single-sex boarding schools — they tend not to be very au fait with the inner workings of the female body. When we first moved in together James called from the supermarket one night to see what I wanted for dinner. I asked him for chicken tikka and a twelve-pack of Tampax Supers as I'd run out. He nearly passed out. He just wasn't that relaxed around feminine hygiene products. But, as my friend Jess said, it's all about training. I was working on him, slowly but surely.

"I'm ovulating — you know, popping eggs — so we need to go for it. It's day fourteen. Come on, let's get to it."

"Right, right, of course, yes. Do we have time for foreplay or should I just shoot from the hip, as it were?" said James, laughing, as he whipped off his tracksuit.

Copyright © 2005 by Sinead Moriarty

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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide for The Baby Trail

1) Why do you think Emma wants to have a baby? She resolves to get pregnant at New Years saying, "It was high time I had a baby. I was thirty-three and although I may have felt—and, truth be told, behaved—like I was twenty-five, it was time to knuckle down and get up the duff" (3). It sounds as though she wants to have a baby because she feels as though she should, and that's not hard to believe, given the incredible amount of pressure to have kids she picks up from her social circle. Still, there are other moments, holding her goddaughter, for instance, when even observers can tell she's feeling "broody." What compels her to undergo all the painful medical treatments and devote her life to baby making?

2) How does Emma's character change over the course of the novel? She says herself, "I had been a thoughtful person before I had become an obsessive psychotic" (296). Do you think Emma's appraisal of her behavior is fair? While her Mum thinks she's been tough to take, James doesn't seem to think she's lost her character. He says, "But you are you. You've just had a really difficult time lately" (301). Do you think Emma's behavior crosses the line during her treatments, or would any woman who wants a baby that badly act similarly?

3) Were you surprised when Emma decided not to continue with IVF? What do you think the final straw was? Had she lost her faith in modern medicine? Was she tired of waiting? Did she feel that the treatments were unhealthy?

4) Adoption seems like the perfect solution for Emma, who desperately wants a child but can no longer handle the invasive medical procedures. James, however, has some qualms. He's afraid that their adopted child might bring unforeseen complications into their lives. Do you think James has valid concerns? Were Emma's counterarguments convincing? Can an adopted child be a true substitute for a biological one?

5) In Emma's world, it is almost universally assumed that a woman will want to have children. Emma says this even of Lucy, her exceptionally career oriented friend: "She wants to meet a guy, settle down and have a family" (44). The lone hold out is Amanda Nolan, who regularly tries to persuade Emma not to have kids. Emma says, "I liked her for being different: it made a nice change from hearing and reading that you're not complete as a person until you have a child" (146). Do you think this attitude is as uncommon in general as it seems to be in Emma's world? Do you think there are more Amandas out there than there used to be? Or more Lucys? Does it surprise you that "modern" women, such as we see in this novel, have such traditional desires?

6) Emma isn't shy about sharing her opinions, and she is clearly her mother's daughter in this regard. On many topics, Emma and her mother hold polar opposite positions. Emma's mom thinks Emma rushed to the doctor when she had trouble getting pregnant; Emma thinks having more information can only help. Emma's mother thinks Babs will shame the family name with her use of "hard" drugs; Emma accepts ecstasy from her younger sibling and dances the night away. Do you think their differences in opinion can be attributed to the generation they grew up in? Are either Emma or her mother right or wrong about any of the topics they disagree on?

7) According to Emma's version of events, James has very little to do with deciding whether they will try for having a family. When Emma tells him she is ready to try for a baby, "He seemed pleased—if a little surprised that I was feeling broody as I'd rough-handled nephew over the Christmas holidays." The two of them agree that Emma will be a good mother, but neither of them comment on whether James will make a good father. Do you think James is as invested in having a family as Emma is? Does she expect him to be, or is it assumed that the family is her domain?

8) After Emma plans their anniversary trip to Lourdes, she tells the unenthusiastic James, "I'll go on my own. Just like I go to all my appointments on my own. Just like I take all my drugs on my own. Just like I get the bad results on my own" (260). Do you think James is unsupportive of Emma? Does he grow more or less supportive over the course of Emma's treatments? Is there any way he could have shared the stress of her experiences more fully, or can he, as a man, never really understand?

9) During a night out to celebrate Lucy's recent promotion, Jess reveals that she is pregnant with her second child. Instead of being excited, as Emma would be if she discovered she was pregnant, Jess is depressed. Being a mom isn't all she thought it would be. Jess and Lucy argue over who has it worse: the new mom or the single girl. Do you think either of them won this argument? Why do each of them assume that the other has it so good? Emma is reluctant to believe new motherhood can be all that bad - why do you think she assumes that she'll fare better than Jess?

10) Emma goes through a frightening array of medical treatments over the course of the novel. Were you surprised by the amount of pain, expense, and stress she has to undergo in order to get help for infertility? By the end of the novel, she has very little faith in her doctors, who tend to assume that she'll have little trouble getting pregnant and that the treatments will not be painful. How do these assumptions make things more difficult for Emma? How could medical staff be more considerate of women struggling with infertility?

11) During her treatments, Emma rarely discusses her troubles with friends and family, like Imogen, who tend to assume that since she is not pregnant she must not be trying. How do these assumptions weigh on Emma's mind? When people assume that she hasn't been trying to get pregnant, why doesn't she correct them and share her story? What would it mean for her to admit that she's had trouble getting pregnant? How might people's assumptions on this topic demonstrate the way culture holds women responsible for all aspects of pregnancy and child bearing?

12) Late in the story, Emma talks to a couple of people who can empathize with her. Mrs. Curran and Policeman Mooney both know what it is like to have trouble with child bearing. What do you think these conversations mean to Emma? How do they help her come to terms with her troubles?

13) Throughout the hard times, as Emma tries to keep everything in perspective, her chief support is her sense of humor. What did you think were the funniest scenes in the book? How does Emma's sense of humor reveal the absurdity in her own behavior, her relationship with James, and the medical treatment she received?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2012


    This was my life exactly...When I told my husband about it he thought I was crazy for reading something that mirrored our own trials, thought it would upset me. On the contrary...I laughed through the entire book. Finally someone could relate to what we are going through...not just unhelpful advice from well meaning loved ones. Anyone struggling with infertility should read this. It gave me sanity about this whole process, which hasnt happened in quite some time!

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  • Posted December 31, 2011

    Good to know I'm not the only crazy one!

    I loved this book. I laughed out loud & cried my eyes out too. I wish I could give this book to everyone suffering through infertility & to those who want to understand what a loved one who is struggling with it goes through. My story is so similar to Emma's and although I'm less dramatic I've felt so many of the same emotions. I laughed when she compared herself to The Hulk, because I've called myself that many times. On the fertility meds you can go from placid to full out rage in a split second! Then I cried when she talks about wanting her life back and how she hates herself. I can't count the nights in the past year and a half I've cried myself to sleep thinking how much I hate myself and how sorry I feel for my husband having chosen me, a miserable excuse for a human, as a wife. If you haven't dealt with infertility this book is still a good read, although you may not understand why Emma acts like she does. Infertility takes a toll on your self worth & sanity, but it helps to know you are not the only one who feels the way you do. I can't wait to read the sequel!

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  • Posted May 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Hilarious and Heartwarming Novel - I Loved It!

    This is Sinead Moriarty's first novel. I picked it up on sale from B&N and have had it sitting on my bookshelf for a year. I have to say I am so disappoinnted that I waited this long to read it! This book is phenominal! It is funny but touching. You find yourself laughing at the things both Emma and James say, yet you feel sorry for the fact that Emma cannot get pregnant. What a wonderful story all together! I cannot wait to read the other books and the sequal!

    A+++++++ for The Baby Trail! This novel is a MUST READ!

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  • Posted January 23, 2011

    great read

    This is a must read for anyone who is struggling or has struggled with infertility. The main character is funny and describes things that I think anyone with these struggles has also done.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2008

    Loved every second of it

    This book is laugh out loud funny. I read the entire book in one weekend. I just could not put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2008

    loved it!

    I dont have kids and I loved this book! Its very easy to read and funny. I was laughing out loud. I bought other books by the author and loved those as well. I cant wait for her to write some more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2007

    Great book!!!

    I loved this book I read it in one day. I am going through the same things as the person in this book is. I don't feel as crazy as once did after reading this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2006

    Really enjoyed it.

    I actually purchased this book. Usually, I am a library first fan. However, I was going through a similar situation as the charecters in this book. Thank you Baby Trail for making the process a bit easier.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    Great Book!

    I loved this book. I found it very funny and heartwarming. I can't wait to read the sequal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2005


    I was on my own mission to get pregnant and after 8 months I had enough. When I found this book I was so excited. I was great to be able to read a book, even though fictional, and see Im not the only one doing handstands and acting crazy to get preg. I finsihed the book and 2 weeks later I tested and it was positive...Now im 4 months pregnant and I always suggest to my friends who are having a hard time getting pregnant to read this book, because it got me through a stressful month!!! It was so fun!!!

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Well written character study

    Married one year thirty-three years old make-up artist Emma Hamilton and her spouse rugby coach James decide to have a baby. Emma conducts research, develops an action plan with a detailed time line, and implements the process because she must be ready to celebrate next Christmas with her three month old child................. However, month two in her plan called for pregnancy, which failed to happen in spite of constant sex. Now two months behind schedule, Emma decides to supplement the au natural plan that failed to perceive its objective. Months later and still not pregnant, fertility drugs, standing on her head, and James not allowed wasting one iota in case that one is the gold medal swimmer, Emma is stopped by a cop who has just adopted a Romanian child. Two years and no kid, even James is losing patience with Emma (can the readers be far behind?) so perhaps Bucharest is the perfect vacation spot that is after a stop at Lourdes hoping for divine intervention.................. This chick lit tale is more a series of vignettes that focus on contraception and fertility than a novel. Though the obsessed Emma is an interesting character, readers will become weary of her antics yet ironically root for her to achieve her goal and become pregnant. James is a saint (or the reincarnation of Job) for putting up with Emma¿s insanity. THE BABY TRAIL has amusing moments and overall is well written, but reads more like a short story collection with a central character worth perusing over several sittings...................... Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2011

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