There are good book reviews, which are nice. There are also reviews which see not just to the heart of your book, but hear the murmurings of your subconcious as you wrote it, and you soar like an eagle because you have finally captured a shadow of the work in your mind’s eye.
— Jackie French (@jackie_french_) August 31, 2019
I am delighted by the reviews that my novel Mother of Pearl has garnered in the first month since its release. It’s particularly exciting when reviewers really get my book — ‘hear the murmurings of your subconscious’, as Jackie French so eloquently puts it.
Marian Woolf’s review A gripping story of surrogacy, sisters and power dynamics in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald is a case in point. She writes:
Surrogacy and the complicated moral and ethical questions around commercial reproduction is a minefield. The decision to use a surrogate, to become a surrogate, or to facilitate a surrogate pregnancy, are all examined in Mother of Pearl.
However, Savage is interested in more than the individual, and uses surrogacy as a lens through which to probe the differences between Third and First World choices. She tiptoes into frustration at the inward nature of Australian charity, our generosity towards our own relatively wealthy society while seemingly immune to the already poor elsewhere.
Woolf picks up on a theme, signalled by something the main Thai character, Mukda, says early in the novel, ‘Whenever you gain, you lose’, which she describes as ‘a truth that runs through the book, bristling like a spine.’
I also appreciate the way she describes the characters as ‘believable, flawed … trying to figure out how best to navigate their hopes and dreams’, and my approach to them as ‘both unflinching and kind’. (I recently read an author whose work I admire being described as ‘unflinching’ and thought it was such a compliment!).
The final line of Woolf’s review really nails what I think the book is about.
Ultimately … Mother of Pearl is a book about relationships – between people, countries and cultures – between those who have, and those who have not.
Linda Jaivin reviewed Mother of Pearl for The Saturday Paper. As a fan of Jaivin’s writing, not to mention her intellect, I was flattered to have her review my book in the first place. I admit I held my breath when I read the line, ‘At times, each character veers dangerously close to stereotype…’ releasing a sigh of relief when she followed with, ‘But author Angela Savage is too skilful a writer to deal in clichés. As the narrative of this, her fourth novel, develops, each of the women reveals herself to be more complex and capable than she first appears.’
My favourite line of Jaivin’s review is this one:
Savage, who writes with a tough mind and tender heart, tackles the moral and ethical issues around surrogacy with an unsentimental yet sympathetic eye: this is a novel, not a polemic.
I so want to use ‘Savage writes with a tough mind and tender heart’ as the puff quote for my next book!
There was also a tender and frankly humbling review from Ken Hayley in the Courier Mail, who writes:
‘Even a hard-bitten old codger like myself found certain passages of this work tearful going … Authorial attention to technical detail combined with raw emotional honesty and cross-cultural empathy has produced a narrative of resounding depth … This book is a window opening onto an intersection of economic choices and biological imperatives. We have here a rough literary equivalent of the Mexican movie Roma, except that Savage sees the view, with equal clarity, from both sides.’
And thank you to my friends, family members and fellow writers who have taken the time to share their responses to Mother of Pearl. To know that someone has enjoyed reading your work, even been moved by it, is frankly what makes the whole writing gig worthwhile.