May 9 2013 12:30pm

Fertility in Fiction: Interesting Conditions from Weiner, Simons, and Hannah

Then Came You by Jennifer WeinerRegardless what you’re reading right now, I guarantee there is something in it, whether prevalent or miniscule, that has to do with baby-making. Not sure if you know this, but sex can sometimes result with making a baby. Shocking, but true.

Somewhere in a novel someone is doing it—trying to prevent it, planning it, contemplating if they are it, or a mix of the above. Some people get it without even looking. Some try to no avail. Some pay someone else to do it for them. Some take someone else’s as their own. Some want no part of it at all. Yup, we’re talking about pregnancy.

Women’s fiction shelves are busting with novels that tackle these themes. They delve into how fertility can affect us: our psyche, marriages, families, friendships, work environments, and especially our bodies. I’ve had my ups and downs with motherhood. I have a beautiful teenage daughter. We tried to have another a little late in the game with no luck. I know friends who always seem to be pregnant and some who can’t get pregnant at all. I even have the ones who never want children. Just pets. We all know these women. We are these women and I LOVE reading about them all.

Jennifer Weiner’s novels are often filled with characters struggling to cope with the all time perplexing issue of being born with a uterus. In her novel Then Came You, we see the journey of four women and how their lives are changed by surrogacy. A woman in her 40s, the wife of an older and very wealthy tycoon, wants a baby but can’t get pregnant. A young Princeton Grad student can sell one of her eggs for cash to help her dad get into a really good rehab. A mother struggling with bills and no job can rent out her uterus to change her family’s life. The eldest daughter of the wealthy tycoon tries to come to grips with having a newborn sibling after her father’s untimely death. Told from all four points of view, we get a glimpse of four very different women and how the choices they’ve made will affect each other, and the life of this little baby. If I never had kids could I have a surrogate? If I really needed the money could I sell one of my eggs? Could I rent out my uterus? Could I embrace a new sibling or family member created under such circumstances? Weiner sure does make her readers question themselvesa as they muse on the questions raised by the characters.

The Summer Garden by Paullina SimonsPaullina Simons’s The Summer Garden, Book 3 of the Bronze Horseman Trilogy, is set in the 1950s. Back then, you either got pregnant or you adopted. Alexander and Tatiana Barrington already have a two-year-old son. They barely survived World War II in Russia. Now they want to have the perfect American life. Just like all the magazines say they can. But ghosts of the war haunt at them and while they have a very active and steamy sex life they can’t seem to get pregnant again. It takes its toll on them and for a couple who survived war torn Leningrad, marriage seems to be their biggest battle and one they may not win. This is by far one of my most favorite novels of all time. Simple. Beautiful. Heart-wrenching. And sexy as hell. It’s simple in that it’s the '50s, when everything was supposed to be all roses and Tupperware parties. It’s beautiful to see a couple endure so much and love each other more with each day and every page. It’s heart-wrenching to see them struggle to have another child. Its sexy as hell watching them try and make one. Their love story is truly timeless and makes you wanna grab your man, make him dinner in nothing but a frilly apron, take him to bed, and start all over the next day.

On Mystic Lake by Kristin HannahKristin Hannah’s On Mystic Lake tackles pregnancy in a very different way. Annie’s only child has left for college. Her husband tells her he’s leaving her after dropping their kid off at the airport. Annie has been nothing but a dutiful wife and mother for 20 years. She nearly died trying to give him another child once. Now he wants to fly off and marry a younger woman, a junior partner at his law firm. Who is Annie if she’s not a wife and a full-time mother? She has no idea who she’s supposed to be now. Broken, she heads home and finds her childhood sweetheart. He’s grieving over the loss of his wife who committed suicide. Nick can’t cope without scotch and his six-year-old daughter hasn’t spoken since the day her mother died. Annie vows to help them get back on their feet. While consoling the boy who got away and becoming a surrogate mother to his daughter, Annie finds the woman she thought lost and heals her broken heart. Just when she thinks she can let go of the past and move on, fate has other plans. She’s forced to choose between the life she left behind and the life she can have.

There are so many novels that deal with fertility and all the heartache and joy that come along with it. I found a way to heal after my losses by getting lost in some of these tales. Time and really great books can heal just about anything.


Charli Mac writes Women’s Fiction and YA Paranormal set in Philly and the South Jersey Shore. Snorts & screams are probable and fist-pumps are highly discouraged at Twitter her @charlimacs.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Scarlettleigh
I lovee books that deal with their issues. Of course I love women's fiction books.

Emilie Richards - one of my favorite authors uses this theme in her books quite a bit. In her series, Happiness Key Janya Kapur wants to start a family but is having no luck. In her Shenandoah Series - Sister's Choice is about one sister carrying a child for another.

Where We Belong by Emily Griffin, the heroine has to deal with the child she gave up for adoption finding her after 18 years.

Sarah Mayberry's book The Best Laid Plans has the heroine rushing against her biological clock
Charli Mac
2. CharliMac
@scarlettleigh Thanks for the recommendations. I am definitely adding them to my TBR list. I LOVE Sarah Pekkenan too! I have BEST LAID PLANS waiting to read. " :-) BTW, I used to love Emily Giffin but after that whole Amazon review debacle I've refused to read her again.
3. jamaicanjen
One of my favourite fertility-related books is Susan Wiggs' "Just Breathe" in which the heroine becomes pregnant with twins by in vitrio procedure, having just discovered his infidelity.
4. jamaicanjen
See comment above - she becomes pregnant with twins for her husband having just discovered his infidelity.
Post a comment