The official pub date is listed as March 1st, but A DOUBLE LIFE has arrived early and is available now. Congratulations to Lisa Catherine Harper!
As you can see from the fabulous cover to the left, A DOUBLE LIFE is a nonfiction narrative about first time motherhood. Winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, A DOUBLE LIFE chronicles the author’s first pregnancy from conception through her daughter’s first word, and uses her personal story as the lens through which to explore all the changes (physical, psychological and emotional) a woman undergoes when she decides to become a mother.
Motherhood wasn’t exactly on my mind when my client Lisa Catherine Harper approached me years ago with the manuscript, then titled INSIDE OUT. I’d never really given it much thought. I was in my mid-20s and none of my friends had started having babies yet. Most of us were unmarried, and high on our shopping lists were items like “going-out tops” and false eyelashes. Like clockwork, we nursed hangovers every Saturday and Sunday morning. Rather than lusting after houses or family-friendly cars, we hoped to someday have apartments with dishwashers.
I wasn’t sure whether I would relate to Lisa’s project. I liked kids, generally speaking. I smiled at them in the ice cream parlor, and like my mother I enjoyed making faces at them in church (sometimes it’s the only way to get through mass). But I’d never been nuts for babies. In fact, when using public transportation I tried to put as much space between us as possible. On the rare occasion that someone put their wiggling child in my arms, I felt awkward and clumsy. I might as well have been noodling a catfish. I thought I wanted kids someday, but the idea was distant and hazy. Motherhood seemed like such a grown up job, and, well, most mornings it was still a challenge to get myself out the door clean, fed and with matching socks.
To my happy surprise, I read Lisa’s manuscript and was fascinated. And “fascinated” really is the right word. I was simply amazed by what I read. Through her careful research and her own heart-warming story, Lisa provided for me that most wonderful of reading experiences – she made me reconsider something I thought I knew; she revealed the miraculous within the seemingly common experience of motherhood. Suddenly I was really thinking about motherhood. I was phoning my girlfriends wanting to share different fun facts with them about pregnancy – did you know a woman’s body does [insert interesting and mildly terrifying physical development]. I was eagerly offering my seat on the bus to pregnant women. Motherhood no longer seemed like an “ordinary” transformation that millions of women underwent. I now viewed it with a renewed respect and interest.
If I had to describe this illuminating book in one word, it would be thoughtful. The prose is so nuanced and Harper brings her own experience to life with such tenderness. You will learn a lot from reading this book (and I would highly recommend it to women who are pregnant or who are thinking of becoming pregnant), but you’ll be so swept along by the author’s expert storytelling that you may not realize just how smart it is.
In the last year, several of my friends have had babies or become pregnant. These days, more often than not our Facebook pictures show us holding babies instead of beers. We’re growing up. Socks still go missing in the wash (one of the great mysteries of the universe), and I’m still sans-dishwasher, but it’s no longer crazy to think I might want a troublesome tot of my own someday. I’m happy for my newly pregnant friends (and possibly maybe a future me) that intelligent books such as this are available to guide us all through.
A DOUBLE LIFE has been earning some rave reviews, and I’ve included a few below. For more information, please see the following sites:
“Harper’s elegant, thoughtful writing makes this a must-read for expectant parents…The author’s decision to cast her own experiences against the larger backdrops of biology, family, and transformation makes her book universal, moving, and relevant.” –Publishers Weekly
“With a stiff measure of gallows humor, Harper rides the physical, mental and emotional waves churned by impending motherhood. A sweet, immediate articulation of the experience of pregnancy, birth and early motherhood.”–Kirkus
“In A DOUBLE LIFE, Lisa Catherine Harper delivers a complex, heartfelt exploration of pregnancy and motherhood. Smart, accessible, and emotionally compelling, it is part memoir, part manifesto—a riveting read for anyone who is a mother, or hopes to become one.” -Michelle Richmond, author of The Year of Fog and No One You Know
“Harper’s A DOUBLE LIFE is a joy to read! Full of lyrical prose, fascinating information and profound observation, this book should top any baby shower gift list or any new mother’s stack of bedside books. It is not to be missed.” -Kimberly Ford, Ph.D., author of Hump: True Tales of Sex After Kids
“A DOUBLE LIFE stands out for its clear-eyed yet lyrical account of a woman’s journey into motherhood with her daughter. The book is honest without lapsing into bitterness, celebratory without becoming saccharine, a quietly joyful account of motherhood’s emotional, biological and physiological transformations that any parent can relate to and learn from.” -Caroline Grant, Mama, PhD & Editor-n-Chief, Literary Mama
“If you’re looking for a new book about parenting that won’t make you look like a dork on the commuter train, let me help: This is the cool one.” -Jeff Gordinier, author of X Saves the World and editor-at-large Details magazine