The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan: a ‘spellbinding’ debut
Beautifully lucid and elegantly written, this is a ‘must-read’ novel
Jessamine Chan’s “crafty and spellbinding” debut is set in a terrifyingly plausible dystopian America, said Molly Young in The New York Times. Frida Liu is a 39-year-old single mother with an 18-month-old daughter and a stressful job. One day, in a “spell of insomnia-induced irrationality”, she leaves her daughter unattended at home while running a work errand.
Neighbours hear the toddler crying, and alert the police. Frida is sentenced to a year in an “experimental rehab facility”, where women are moulded into better mothers by practising their parenting skills on AI dolls. The school continually berates Frida for her actions: her kisses, instructors tell her, “lack a fiery core of maternal love”.
It’s no surprise that this book has been “making waves” in the US, said Madeleine Feeny in The Daily Telegraph: “questions of how we define and evaluate motherhood pervade contemporary culture”.
Beautifully lucid and elegantly written, this is a “must-read” novel, said India Knight in The Sunday Times – “a Handmaid’s Tale for the 21st century”.
Hutchinson Heinemann 336pp £12.99; The Week Bookshop £9.99
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