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Baby, Baby Paperback – 30 Jan 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hodge Publishing (30 Jan. 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0956476902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956476906
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,755,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Mari Howard's family-based novels explore cultural change, diversity, and reconciliation. Think Joanna Trollope or JoJo Moyes, though influences include Kamila Shamsie and Khalid Hosseini, and like them she observes and critiques her own cultural traditions, the clashes and the outcomes. With sharp observation combined with a warmth towards all her characters, Mari uses her background in social sciences and religion to explore contemporary living and dilemmas in our diverse and demanding society. Her style was influenced by reading the early work of US novelist Ann Beattie, while a part-time 'outside reader' for the Oxford English Dictionary. She's also worked as a pregnancy counsellor, (where she developed an interest in IVF and reproductive medicine), in occupational therapy, and a Mum to 3 children including twins.

A Londoner born & bred, Mari Howard has interesting ancestors including a great-grandmother from Tinos, Greece, and great-grandfather related to Ebenezer Howard, inventor of the 'garden city'. The family expectations pointed towards a career in the Civil Service, so Mari tried to escape commuter-land by going to university. However she's never escaped big-city living, since she studied in Newcastle and then moved to Oxford, where she enjoys the intellectual stimulation, the precocious children and competitive parents, and making friends who come from all over the world.

Mari's children have all returned to live and work in London...(is the city in the genes?), and are replaced at home by 3 cats. To escape the compulsion of writing, she is also a painter, likes gardening, being outdoors, spending time with family and friends, retail therapy, and Cornwall. She likes to write in a summerhouse down the garden.
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Product Description

About the Author

Mari Howard isn't afraid to tackle the thorny ethics of the 21st century. In today's world we seem to be talking about toleration, equality, and avoiding discrimination, yet at the same time, experiencing violence and division rather than diversity. There's a revival of the old science/religion argument, with fundamentalists on both sides. In Baby, Baby, Mari, a writer and painter with a lifelong interest in people and the natural world, aims to demonstrate the pitfalls on both sides, drawing them into in a provocative storyline. "You can try to pick your way through the arguments as a sociologist, a theologian, a philosopher. But for most people, fiction says it far better. By-passing debate, a story goes straight into the imagination. Mari's interests span societal and cultural change, ethics, and the place of spirituality in the post- modern, globalised world. She brings to writing a wide variety of work experience from reading for the Oxford English Dictionary to working in a prep school, as a pregnancy counsellor, and as an occupational therapy assistant, and studied social and political science while raising three (now grown) children. Prior to that, she studied art history and religion. A wry ironic but affectionate humour is evident in her writing. Favourite writers include Alisdair McCall Smith, Marilyn Robinson, Barbara Kingsolver, Sara Maitland, and JRR Tolkien.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By AliB on 7 May 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an interesting and in some ways unconventional novel which kept me interested right to the end. The main character is Jenny Guthrie who is keen to continue with her studies of embryology and genetics (her father is a specialist in fertility) but just as she finished her first degree, two events become the catalyst for huge conflicts in her life. First of all her step-sister Daisy gives birth to a malformed baby which lives only briefly. Secondly, the doctor at the birth is Jenny’s ex, Max Mullins, who caused her a lot of hurt by dumping her some time before for no apparent reason. Although Jenny and get together again, it seems that their personal philosophies (Max seems to be in thrall to his evangelical minister father) are always going to be at odds.
A few things nearly put me off this book. The author’s clipped style of writing, (which I liked in many ways) did make it hard (despite Max’s occasional lurches into a Scottish accent) to distinguish character voices. Similarly I like a story that rests mainly on dialogue or thought, but sometimes I found it hard to get a picture in my mind of what was going on, and even in view of what happens later, I found the opening chapters (the birth and death of the baby) strangely unemotional. And yes, I had other quibbles, but they were the result of my engagement with the story and the characters. What matters is that this author has a distinctive and refreshing voice and I needed to know the outcome as Jenny and Max are drawn together but kept apart not by the usual romantic obstacles so much as an unbridgeable gap of belief and culture. I believe there’s a sequel which I’m sure I’ll get round to reading.
A final small point for the publisher. In the Kindle edition, the headings indicating a change of viewpoint were all tagged onto the previous section – quite distracting and surely easy to fix.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By AnnaRowenaBowers on 17 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
Baby, Baby is a warm, witty, and well-researched novel. Mari writes without any romantic, literary façade - instead with honesty and sympathy - about what are normalities rather than abnormalities of modern family relationships. This creates a strongly identifiable realism that speaks successfully across generations. The familiar emotional battlefield of sibling rivalry and parental influence is mari'd beautifully with a parallel thread of emerging genetic research and the implications of foetal complication, filtered through a prism lens of religion, career and home life. Her even tone sets the novel out as a broad and bold exploration of the facets of this age both emotional and physical that we are able to help, change or influence, and the things we simply aren't (or perhaps shouldn't be..?). She shows that through research, empathy and experience we can come to an enlightened understanding of ourselves and the world around us; but in being fortunate enough to be able to do this, uncomfortable internal truths may have to be faced. And therein lie the guts of the book. This intellectually challenging backdrop (that will continue to raise questions amongst younger readers) is tempered by Mari's delightfully creative and risqué sensibilities, perhaps most overtly voiced through the character of Daze, but in fact all through the novel a lively undercurrent of heart, humour and incident makes this an engrossing and emotionally educational read. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Leeder on 24 May 2010
Format: Paperback
In writing `Baby Baby', Mari Howard is tapping into the anxieties of a generation that has to tackle the ethical dilemmas thrown up by advances in scientific research. She is in the company of an increasing band of writers, installation artists and poets, who are placing these concerns before a public; a public that is often unaware of them or scared to handle them. I took great pleasure in Howard's book:- she has a light and slightly ironic touch; this lightens the heavy scientific load to such an extent, that we are piloted round some weighty issues in the most blithe frame of mind, only appreciating the magnitude of what we have been reading, when safely landed. Or, in short, how to engage with Contemporary Science, whilst immensely enjoying oneself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Misty on 31 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I have never written an Amazon review before, but felt compelled to do so after having enjoyed reading `Baby, Baby' so much - I must recommend it to you! It is an affectionately-told story evolving around Jenny Guthrie - a recent graduate who is convinced that rational science can provide answers to the mysteries of life - and her paradox, Max Mullins, a trainee medic and pastor's son. As their lives intwine they explore love, faith and morality via a sensitive, yet bold and courageous journey of self-discovery and their relationships with each other and family. With the exploration of controversial ethics of fertility treatments, both promising and threatening to make and break Max and Jenny's relationship, you simply what to find out what will happen - they are not just abstract characters on a page; I came to care for them. Written with alternating viewpoints in short scenes, `Baby, Baby' is extremely pacey and holds your attention and peaks your interest until you have raced to the end. A different dimension is thrown into the novel by Jenny's step-sister, Daze - whose story is cleverly told in the third person - and whose creation of Conceptual Art explosively marries together biotechnology with art. This novel brilliantly focuses the thoughts of the reader to the ethics of today's society through fiction. To this end, it is a very thought-provoking novel and would serve excellently for discussion in a book group - the author has even provided some questions to explore at the end of her novel, which are very useful. But whether read in a group, or on your own, `Baby, Baby' is a thoroughly good read!
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