Joanna Pocock

A mother-daughter love story

In Splinters, the American novelist and essayist Leslie Jamison leaves behind the issue of her addiction and recovery – the subject of her previous memoir, The Recovering (2018) – and takes us through her pregnancy, experience of childbirth, marriage, divorce and post-separation dating life. Each stage of her journey is related with the author’s trademark

Labour of love? What women need to know about childbirth

‘The birthing mother is surrounded by the dusts of death,’ reads an inscription on a 3,000-year-old clay tablet, thought to be an ancient Assyrian incantation to ward off death in childbirth. There have been pressings of beads into clay, writings on vellum or cave walls and singing and making art about childbirth and motherhood for

Scaling the heights: a woman’s experience of mountain climbing

In her memoir Time on Rock, Anna Fleming charts her progress from ‘terrified novice’ to ‘competent leader’ as she scales rocky vertical routes with names such as the ‘Inaccessible Pinnacle’ and the ‘Savage Slit’. There is poetry in the vocabulary of climbing, with its gritstone, gabbro and basalt and its slopers, arêtes, underclings, heel hooks

The many contradictions of modern motherhood

There are few certainties in life. Death and taxes are the ones regularly trotted out. However, there is another that rarely gets mentioned: the fact that every single human who has ever existed has come out of a woman’s body. This act of creation, while being a marvel, has also become banal. In Motherhood, Eliane

Finder and keeper: two family memoirs reviewed

What can we ever know about our family’s past? How do we love those closest to us when doing so brings us to the edge of insanity? Nicole Chung’s All You Can Ever Know and Sam Mills’s The Fragments of My Father explore both of these questions. Chung’s memoir takes on a sleuth-like quality as

A love letter to San Francisco’s mean streets

Recollections of My Non-Existence is the Rebecca Solnit book I have been waiting for. I was born four years after the American writer, and on the same continent, and much of what she describes in Recollections feels very familiar: the flamboyant gay scene of the 1980s, swiftly followed by the devastation of the Aids epidemic,