Book review: Larger than an Orange by Lucy Burns
Burns’s ‘visceral’, beautifully written memoir about abortion
“It is still, in 2021, a brave step for a woman to speak openly about choosing not to continue a pregnancy,” said Laura Hackett in The Sunday Times. Lucy Burns should be applauded, then: in this “visceral”, beautifully written memoir, the 31-year-old lays bare the agonised consequences of an abortion she had in 2017.
The procedure itself is described in “graphic and shocking detail”. But what happened next was almost worse: after developing worrying physical symptoms, Burns was treated humiliatingly by medical professionals – and coldly by her employers. Written in a “fragmented style” that moves between her perspective and others’, the “book becomes a kind of whodunit” which asks: “Who is to blame for how horrible this is?”
Like many women who have had abortions, Burns was besieged by contradictory feelings, said Lucy Scholes in The Daily Telegraph. She knew, intellectually, that what she did was necessary, yet still experienced a “maelstrom” of emotions: guilt, confusion, regret. Although her book is not an easy read, it excels in “portraying the flipside of what it means to embrace the notion of individual choice”.
Chatto 240pp £10.99; The Week Bookshop £8.99
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