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An Amazing Emotional Journey
The Little House - Philippa Gregory
Member Name: MrsDave
The Little House - Philippa Gregory
Advantages: Emotionally stimulating, accurately researched, easily read.
Disadvantages: Obscure ending.
I picked up a copy of the Little House by Philippa Gregory recently. I am familiar with some of her other novels, particular her more famous historical fiction works like The Favoured Child and The Other Boleyn Girl. This particular book is sent in present times which makes a change for the author, though it is more focused on emotions than events as is Philippa Gregory's usual style.
The Little House tells the story of a young woman who finds herself sucked into her husband's world, against her better judgement. There's nothing amiss about her husband's world, it is just that it isn't the world she wants to live in. She has a career ahead of her, a town centre flat that she's really fond of and her life is jogging along nicely.
Unfortunately her rather persuasive and unwittingly domineering husband has other ideas. He is ready to start a family (that he naturally expects Ruth to tend to) and he wants to move to a country house near to his Parent's house that he has always been fond of. Ruth tries to protest to the move and big life changes but finds herself outnumbered. Ruth was orphaned as a child and the only family she has around her is her husband and his equally dominating parents.
Ruth tries her best to go along with what the rest of the family want, and has the best of intentions throughout. But it isn't long before she sinks into post-natal depression and finds that her new family really are not as fond of her as she previously assumed. They only care about their family, and Ruth will never truly be a part of that the same way her new baby is. That is why when her parenting skills are called into question, she finds it so hard to cope with the total abandonment her in-laws and even her husband inflict upon her.
I found this a really moving account right through until I came to the closing chapter. I cannot recall reading such a realistic fictitious account of post-natal depression before that I have been able to relate to so thoroughly. It is not pretentious and it does not include any absurdly unrealistic claims that Ruth would have deliberately harmed her child at any time as many fictitious accounts of post-natal depression appear to (causing harm is usually the result of post-natal psychosis which is extremely rare).
The only drawback to this otherwise amazing emotional journey is that the ending did not fit to me. All the way through the book, Ruth takes what everybody has to give her, and it is obvious that she is going to snap and stand up for herself in the end. But she does not really stand up for herself in my mind, despite that appearing to be the author's intention. I cannot say anymore than that without giving it all away unfortunately.
If you would like to buy this book, it costs £5.49 from Play.com or between £1 and £2 second hand from Alibris UK. I do not think it is the greatest book ever written because of the obscure ending, but it was certainly an amazingly accurate account of post-natal depression, right down to the story that explained what provoked Ruth to come down with it.
It is a book I would eagerly recommend to any new Mum who is feeling a bit down or indeed their partner. It is only a story, but it is easy to understand and an accurate portrayal of what post-natal depression is really like. It could well help someone to start to put their own puzzle pieces together to help them to move on and start enjoying motherhood on their own terms. it would certainly have helped me when I suffered with my first born.
Summary: I found this a really stimulating read.