Pamela Erens packs a huge emotional punch into this short novel covering the labour of a young women in a busy New York hospital, the eleven hours of the title.
The evolving relationship between Lore, the single, unaccompanied woman and her midwife, Franckline is beautifully drawn. Erens has an astonishing talent for description and the passages on the physical progress of the labour are totally absorbing. She moves effortlessly between Lore’s story and that of Franckline, the immigrant midwife, and makes us care about them and their life journeys.
The author is skilled, in the things she suggests, as well as those things she describes and there is a sparseness and economy in the writing that is refreshing. I could say that there is not a superfluous word used and this conveys the urgency and intensity of the birth process.
I would have to say that this is one novel that would definitely appeal more to women readers, as it deals with the momentous and profound act of giving birth. I particularly like the way the novel ended, with all possibilities left open and nothing defined. The best recommendation, I can give this novel is that I am now rushing out to read Erens’ other two previous titles.Verdict- a tour de force.
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.