Reviewed by Susan Lobban
Ever since she was a little girl playing dress up Jessica has wanted to find her dream man and have a gorgeous wedding. All grownup she has found her soul mate in Matthew and her wedding day surpasses any childhood imaginings! The newlyweds are deliriously happy and every day of married life is better than the last.
Now a baby is on the way, five years ahead of schedule, but then Jessica has always loved surprises. Neither she nor Matthew have had much experience of babies, but they will know what to do when their bundle of joy arrives, won’t they? After Jessica awakes from a horrendous labour, Matthew is a natural doting father to their daughter, but Jessica feels … nothing. Overnight the Jessica of old is gone, whereas the new one is a mum by name only. Everyone told her life would change when she had a baby, but she was not prepared for this. Is she such a terrible person – wishing that she could have her old life back again?
Amanda Prowse really knows how to create lovable married couples – first Poppy and Mart and now Jessica and Matthew. They are the kind of husband and wife you aspire to be or have in your life. Jessica has come from modest surroundings and by meeting Matthew she now has all she ever dreamed of and more. Obviously, going by the synopsis I knew what was ahead for the loved up pair, and that meant I felt I was often reading while holding my breath as I did not want anything bad to happen to them.
Having a baby should be a joyous and happy occasion and for Matthew it is, but for Jessica it feels like she is living a nightmare. She is gripped by postnatal depression and every day after her daughter’s arrival is a struggle to break free from its hold. Throughout the book the chapters alternate between Jessica in the present day, staying in an institution, and the past, which details the lead-up to her current situation. Certain things are alluded to piece by piece and you know it is something very bad to do with her daughter. I kept thinking "please do not be what I think it is".
The characterisation throughout was superb as it really did read like two totally different women. Gone was the carefree and fun-loving young wife and in her place was a broken woman aged beyond her years. PND is still not talked about enough and you hear occasional horror stories, but you rarely get a true insight into the lead-up to tragedy. Too often mothers are vilified for something out of their control.
A Mother’s Story is unfortunately all too common, but it does not make it any easier to read about. I cried and cried as my heart broke for Jessica, but it is a story that must be told. If it helps even one person recognise symptoms of PND in themselves or someone close to them then the author can be proud. Amanda Prowse is truly masterful in her writing in that she applies a tender touch to the devastating and harsh realities of life.