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My Wild and Sleepless Nights Reviews

My Wild and Sleepless Nights by Clover Stroud

My Wild and Sleepless Nights: A Mother's Story

Clover Stroud

4.27 out of 5

6 reviews

Imprint: Doubleday
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publication date: 20 Feb 2020
ISBN: 9780857525901

In her touching, provocative and profoundly insightful book, she captures a sense of what motherhood really feels like

5 stars out of 5
7 Mar 2020

"What a relief to have someone report from the frontline of this essential human endeavour"

Stroud applies a literary attention, a poetic energy and a nature writer’s eye to a life spent largely in kitchens and bedrooms. She describes picking up socks and hanging up damp towels in the way other writers have described picking across battlefields or having sex in foreign fields. Most importantly, she pours noise and colour into an experience that at times is chokingly quiet. As Stroud writes, while some women complain that there is a silence around the pain of labour, there’s another silence, just as loud, “around the squashed feeling of despair that can come with cooking supper which will get thrown into the bin untouched, night after night”.

Reviews

5 stars out of 5
29 Feb 2020

"Having a baby is like joining a cult — full of other, more capable mothers"

It’s the honesty that makes this book so compelling: TMI in Technicolor! Siri — but not for sissies… ‘There were times when the other children were very small, when I would take them to baby groups, looking for other women I could talk to about the new feelings of dark love which occasionally took hold of me,’ Clover notes, before deciding: ‘It’s safer to just go on singing pat-a-cake-pat-a-cake as if the feeling didn’t exist’, only to put it down on paper.

4 stars out of 5
23 Feb 2020

"this is far from a Cuskian account of the darker emotions our children can pull us towards. "

While I have no doubt of the extremities of emotion Clover Stroud feels – and depicts in her imagery – this is far from a Cuskian account of the darker emotions our children can pull us towards. Nor is it a political commentary on the state of contemporary motherhood. Stroud’s struggles to balance her return to work, her marriage and her sex life with her extraordinary output of care-giving are touched on lightly. The vocation of motherhood clearly wins out for her: “How can I explain [to Pete] the tricks my mind plays on me by telling me that I don’t like the toil that motherhood has forced on me, while quietly pondering whether a sixth child is out of the question?”

4 stars out of 5
22 Feb 2020

"a visceral story of pregnancy and domestic mayhem"

It is a chronicle of an inward life, of sweat and leakages and love and all. The most relatable of her views is hatred of the mumsy security of the Topsy and Tim books, which she compares to a video recruiting Isis brides. One which “suggests life in the caliphate is going to be about making date cookies in the sun while waiting for your warrior husband to arrive home. You give up your life and all your freedom, and when you get there it’s really terrible clothes, bleeding heads on sticks and bombs going off everywhere.”

4 stars out of 5
Alice O'Keeffe
21 Feb 2020

"mothering for Stroud has more to do with hedonism and adventure, about escape, and exploring the outer limits of human experience"

Stroud was shortlisted for the Wainwright prize for nature writing for her debut memoir, The Wild Other. Her new book is nature writing, too; but this is nature as experienced from the inside. She excels in evoking the feral, instinctive forces that motherhood unleashes, which can be so difficult to explain or describe (hence the shocked refrain of new mothers: “Nobody ever tells you!”). And while she is acutely alive to its joys – sexual, exhausting, earthy joys – these are always intertwined with darkness and difficulty. “Motherhood hurts,” she writes. “And I like to be hurt.”

4 stars out of 5
Eleanor Mills
9 Feb 2020

"the best motherhood book ever written?"

Parenting is about equipping your children with the love and skills they need to become happy functioning adults. Stroud’s book will give anyone heading out on this fearsome journey a lantern to guide the way. The book is not always pretty, and sometimes its directness is shocking, but it is full of love and honesty and talk. And ultimately those are the only things that matter.