The Delivery Room

The Delivery Room

by Sylvia Brownrigg
     
 

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It is 1998. In the safe haven of her London office—a room her husband jokingly calls “The Delivery Room”—therapist Mira Braverman listens to the stories of her troubled patients, including an aristocratic woman going through an intense infertility drama, an American journalist who is eager to have a baby, and an irritable divorcé who

Overview

It is 1998. In the safe haven of her London office—a room her husband jokingly calls “The Delivery Room”—therapist Mira Braverman listens to the stories of her troubled patients, including an aristocratic woman going through an intense infertility drama, an American journalist who is eager to have a baby, and an irritable divorcé who likes to taunt Mira about her Serbian nationality. As the novel unfolds, Mira discovers she is not as distant from her patients’ pain as she might once have been: her husband Peter struggles with illness, NATO’s threats against her country grow more serious, and submerged truths from her own past seem likely to erupt.
Compelling, complex, and always deeply human, The Delivery Room is an engaging examination of the incomplete understandings that course between therapist and patient, and a set of variations on the theme of motherhood—as well as a timely meditation on the meanings of wars fought from a distance, when ordinary citizens have to measure their personal griefs against the outrages experienced by those under attack.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A London therapist gets a lesson in pain and empathy in Brownrigg's sparkling latest (after Morality Tale). It's 1998, and Mira Braverman's home office (dubbed "the delivery room" by her husband) overfloweth with troubled types. There's "the Bigot," Howard, a divorced diplomat who needles Mira about her Serbian heritage; "the American," Jess, a single female journalist who longs for a baby; "the Aristocrat," Caroline, who is fighting a battle with infertility; and "the Mourning Madonna," Kate, who lost a daughter in utero. Only when Mira's husband, Peter, is diagnosed with terminal lymphoma is Mira able to empathize with her patients, particularly as Peter's health declines. In many ways, this novel is also about parenting-those who long to be mothers and can't, and those who are ambivalent about the responsibilities. Because so much of the novel revolves around sessions, the narrative can become claustrophobic, but patient readers will appreciate Brownrigg's detailed portrayals of the therapist and client dynamic, and the prose is tack sharp and effortlessly lyrical. (Nov.)

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Library Journal

Sixty-something Mira Braverman, a Serbian immigrant with a successful psychotherapy practice in London, is enduring seismic stresses in the late 1990s as her country descends ever deeper into unspeakable violence under Slobodan Milosevic. Mira's patients, mostly women with motherhood issues (thus, the title, which refers to her office), value her professional guidance even as they uneasily tread the topic of the country of her birth. Add to the story Mira's gravely ill beloved husband, Peter, and Peter's son from a casual college liaison, Graham, who is struggling with his own fear of fatherhood with his much younger bride and who has viewed his stepmother with civil distance until Peter's illness shifts family dynamics. Brownrigg's latest is a love story of exquisite language and sensitivity. Losing her husband and her country at the same time, Mira is forced to keep her despair private as she unwaveringly attends to her husband's last journey and helps her patients set themselves free of their own debilitating sorrows. Highly recommended.
—Beth E. Andersen

Kirkus Reviews

A period of growth, change and tragedy in the life of a London psychotherapist, her family and clients is ably tracked and empathetically dissected.

In contrast with the quirky, wry and surreal notes of her previous novel (Morality Tale, 2008), Brownrigg's latest is a solidly realistic, also minutely considered account of relationships, their anguish, solace and the gaps in between, in Europe in the late 1990s. Mira Braverman, married to British academic Peter, runs a therapeutic practice in which she listens to and analyzes her clients' dissatisfactions, which are surprisingly often connected to their failures to give birth or be good parents. Mira, a Serbian immigrant, has no children herself (other than her patients) but is bound up with her sister Svetlana and her extended family in Serbia. Peter has a son, Graham, but their relationship is awkward, not least because Peter didn't learn about the boy until years after his birth. As the months roll forward, Graham gives in to his wife Clare's wish to start a family; Peter is diagnosed with cancer; and the Kosovo crisis develops, threatening the safety of Svetlana and family. Clare is soon pregnant, while Peter's swiftly declining health allows Graham to move closer to him, literally and figuratively. Brownrigg makes just a little too much of the theme of children, but her calibration of grief and compassion as she switches viewpoints among many characters and her scrupulous sensitivity lend the narrative a quiet compulsion.

A gifted writer delivers a classic North London novel (sober; domestic; emotionally intelligent; middle-class) enhanced by insight and tenderness.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582434247
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
10/01/2008
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.40(d)

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