Share for friends:

The Woman Who Gave Birth To Rabbits: Stories (2003)

The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits: Stories (2003)

Book Info

3.57 of 5 Votes: 2
Your rating
0156027399 (ISBN13: 9780156027397)
mariner books

About book The Woman Who Gave Birth To Rabbits: Stories (2003)

Have I ever been so in love with a book of short stories as this? The only one I can think of that would come close is Margaret Atwood's Good Bones, but that was less a book of short stories than it was a collection of prose poems and reimagined faerie tales. No, this is it. And Emma Donoghue is a delightful genius. Her writing takes part of what I love best about Jane Austen, colours it with a decidedly feminist sensibility, and mixes in a fascination with obscure historical details, especially those regarding medicine or illness. In truth, I found the first story a little dry, but with each successive story I found myself more and more enamored. By the end I wanted to hug the book to myself, and if I had a bit of money, I have several friends I would love to send off copies of this book to immediately. (Mindy, you are at the top of this list. Go see if your library has this book immediately!)I would also like to point out that I'm not even particularly fond of short stories. Okay, I loved the Mark Twain stories my father read to me as a child, the Stephen King short stories I was addicted to in high school, then Neil Gaiman's short stories in college, but these are the exception. Most collections of short stories I never finish, rather I limp through two or three, then put the book down somewhere, never to be picked up again. I think the format is much abused, by people who can't be bothered to sustain a plotline long enough to create a novel. But Donaghue's stories are little gems.What can I say to make you go out and pick up this book? Perhaps that each story is based off of some snippet of historical truth, a note in a ledger, a footnote in a biography of someone else. Some true thing that glimmered and fascinated, but was isolated, and nothing more of that life was known. Donaghue fleshes out these twinklings into stories, into women that we should have known. Passionate women who loved, raged and fought. Women who chose different paths, and women whose paths were chosen for them. All illuminate their time, regardless of how close to truth their stories are. And even better, following each story is a note of the truth behind it, documenting what parts of the story were true, and often how the rest was imagined.This is one of the finest books I have read in a while. I would add it to Michelle Tea's class of women's experience in literature (read the upcoming bookslut interview to find out what I'm talking about.)

Hmm. I've forgotten some of the stories in this collection, but I remember I liked them well enough. This format that Donoghue uses, of weaving into stories obscure news items from the 18th century works well with me. It's when she makes these snippets into long novels - see Life Mask, The Sealed Letter - that's when I have a problem.Out of the stories I remember and I still think of fondly, the best one has got to be Looking for Petronilla. The last story of the collection, this one is a stunner. The unnamed narrator of the story is looking for a young woman burnt at the stake instead of her mistress who fled, on suspicion of witchcraft. I also liked the titular story, about a woman who maintains a fiction that she can give birth to rabbits on pay per view basis. Being a pet owner, I could not but sympathize with the two fierce ladies fighting for animal rights in the wonderful and quietly melancholic The Fox on the Line. Acts of Union, where a young soldier is conned into marrying an old and unwanted niece of a pharmacist, and Ballads, where a soldier comes back to the two women who he loves and who love each other are also excellent.Considering this is a short story collection without much connection between the stories, it makes sense that some of the stories are less than stellar. The story that disappointed me most was How A Lady Dies, which had so much potential, but didn't rise above the mediocre for me. So was The Necessity of Burning, which story's necessity in the collection I did not see. It's an uneven collection, but for me there were more hits than misses. For the most part, I enjoyed this collection's tales.

Do You like book The Woman Who Gave Birth To Rabbits: Stories (2003)?

Donoghue uses Irish and English historical events, anecdotes, to imagine situations (her stories) that would justify or illustrate them. At the end of each story she gives us her references (books, letters, documents) on which she based her recreations. It is not clear what is her purpose, what is Donoghue trying to tell us: That she knows how to research her sources? That she is not inventing too much? That she has this special ability to fill the gaps of history with her imagination? That history reads like literature (we know that) or that literature complements and supplements history (we also know that)? Or is it because of what she writes on page 228: "History always becomes a cartoon, where it survives at all. Your best hope for a ride towards posterity is the bandwagon of folklore"? She does not need those erudite notes at the end to validate her stories, which should stand on their own. Her editor should have convinced her of eliminating all those references to factual reality. Or place them at the beginning of the story, at least, so the reader assumes her/his task from the start, with less subterfuges. Donoghue's style does not convince me either. In some stories she experiments with the narration and that only adds to the readers's confusion and frustration.There are some inexcusable mistakes: spelling Raskin for Ruskin, the British art critic, for example (page 110)...

I had to buy this book. I had been captivated by the story of Mary Tofts last year after reading a tiny piece in the paper about her, and her mysterious ability to birth pieces of dead baby rabbits. It's a fascinating tale. I fully understand why Emma Donoghue was fascinated with her. I was too. What's not to be fascinated about? Mary was an illiterate 18th century maid who started birthing bits of dead rabbits. Perhaps because I was familiar with Mary's story, I was disappointed with Emma Donoghue's imaginings of her story- only because it differed from mine I suspect. The other stories in this collection weren't based on stories that I knew. Some were better than others of course. I particularly enjoyed Revelations, a story about an 18th century doomsday cult- it was absolutely gripping. I also really enjoyed Cured, a story of unusual 19th century surgeon who thought that he could cure a vast range of female ailments by a rather unique operation. Well worth tracking down and reading.My inspiration to read this bookhttp://astrongbeliefinwicker.blogspot...
—Louise (A Strong Belief in Wicker)

I read Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins recently, but I think this collection is better, partly because there's no awkward linking of the stories together and I found the subject matter more interesting. This is probably one of the better short stories collection I've read, simply because I didn't find any true duds in it, although some stories didn't work for me as well as others.My absolute favourite story in this book has to be 'How a Lady Dies'. The imagery of Bath as a place for the dying is so different from my own mental images of Bath (which after visiting is a place I'd happily live) but Donoghue made me believe in it. While I am not dying of consumption with the woman I love married to another, Elizabeth's love for Frances and her waiting to die spoke to me, and one particular line got me in the gut in my current circumstances. She cannot remember how she got through the days before Bath, before London, how she bore the weight of her short life without Frances to share it. And still less can she conceive of how she is to live, in a week or a month or two at most, when Frances and her family will go back to Dublin.The other stories that I particularly liked were 'The Fox on the Line', which shows so beautifully the pain of fighting for something and essentially failing despite all your hard work, 'Night Vision', ("The Minister must be wrong. Didn't I live, when bigger children died of the same fever? This must mean I have been chosen for something. There must be another future for me, if I'm not to be a woman like other women and have twelve children. If I do not grow up to be a poet, then what does that all mean?") 'Salvage', 'Cured', 'A Short Story', 'The Necessity of Burning' and 'Looking for Petronilla', which surprised me with its ending - I initially thought the narrator was an author insert.

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Emma Donoghue

Other books in category Fiction