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You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman: Diary of an New (Older) Mother Hardcover – Apr 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Books (April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401351891
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401351892
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,334,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Bell on 24 Aug. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Anybody even thinking about embarking on motherhood 'later' in life should read this book. I read it in one sitting, in a hotel room in Philadelphia with jet lag, but Judith's writing would keep anybody awake to finish this masterpiece of self-observation. It's pacy and has humour, even when some pretty grim situations are being narrated. More than anything, it has the degree of honesty that an account of such a horrendous series of procedures needs, but rarely gets. I can't wait for the sequel!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 32 reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I found this a disappointing, superficial read 25 May 2005
By Terri - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book excitedly, because of the paucity of reading material directed at someone like me- a 43 year old, first time mother via infertility treatments, with a long and successful professional career. Then I started reading, and my excitement deflated.

I don't think she was really committed to anything other than publishing a compilation of forced hilarity sit-com entries.

I thought her style was trying to emulate Ann Lamott....but with the cynical, savvy-New York City angle (Sex-In-the-City with babies and their poo), and without the heart or introspection that make Lamotts "Operating Instructions" so precious.

How does this book represent good writing? She has not communicated so much to us... her motivation to get pregnant without the support of her husband, the complicated reasons why she has a very unconventional life, why she accepts incompetence from her contractor, why she is cowed by a Nanny. I suspect it could be more interesting if we, again, got a peak at some real heart here. Instead we get to read about how much money she can spend (except...well..not on a CRIB or DIAPERS...her friends/family have to come up with that for her after the babies are born), Manalo Blahnick shoes and exquisite catering...its often a very superficial and disappointing read that I basically slogged through.

I have no doubt Ms. Newman is a wonderful mother and partner who deeply loves her children and husband...and I would have liked to read about that side of her, and that can be done with humor interfaced with self exploration. If she had gone just a few shades deeper she could have made a very engaging book for many of us, especially if she was less enamored with her fabulous lifestyle and more committed to an internal journey.

But hey, this is 2005. We don't ask for depth and character anymore. We're satisfied with a yuk.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I wanted to love it 24 Mar. 2005
By N. DASTILLUNG - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I had my twins at 35 after fertility treatments and still had a difficult time relating to the woman in this book. Not because I like things sugar-coated or pretend that motherhood is always a bed of roses. But for a far better written realistic account of how tough new babies can be on your psyche,read Anne Lamott's Operating Insructions.

Judith Newman had a charmed life, with the full time nanny and never bothering to breastfeed even one week,even though the babies were preemies and one had very serious weight gain issues for months.There are some funny lines, but mostly I just found myself disgusted with her and being happy i checked it out from the library instead of buying it.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? 14 Mar. 2005
By Dennis T. Yarborough - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Judith Newman's memoir of becoming a first-time mother of twins in her early forties is more than light reading, but much less than it could have been. Newman writes well, she's funny and, yes, she's honest, but SELECTIVELY honest -- for one thing, how does a freelance writer, even for top-shelf magazines and newspapers, come by those tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars she almost casually strews everywhere in pursuit of Manhattan real estate, nannies, baby clothes and all the other accoutrements of modern living? You get the feeling that there is a lot she's not telling you.

Newman, a dyed-in-the-wool urban sophisticate who moves easily among Manhattan's media elite, is good at what she does and is nobody's fool. She is well trained to see all glasses as half-empty, and this is one media professional who turns a gimlet eye on the media; parents' magazines, kids' TV (save for 'Sesame Street' and 'Mister Rogers'), and even 'Goodnight Moon' come in for a pasting. Would that her critical judgment was as finely honed where her personal life is concerned. This book, amusing and a page-turner though it is, turns into a classic illustration of Smart Women, Foolish Choices. By the end of the book, you wonder why on earth she's stayed with her superannuated, selfish jerk of a husband (one wonders what his reaction was when he read his wife's extremely unflattering depiction of him, that is, if he bothered to read the book at all), not to mention the controlling Jamaican nanny (whose sister she hired for the twins' first three months at $250 a DAY -- do the math!), not to mention her judgment in keeping a golden retriever in a cramped Manhattan apartment, even after the twins were born. Then again, perhaps Newman and her husband are more compatible than even she likes to admit -- her fundamentally self-indulgent nature comes through on every page.

Paradoxically, Newman, while she ably satirizes the schadenfreude-filled, absurdly competitive, ridiculously expensive lives of her peers, is unable to avoid falling into the same traps herself. This limits the sympathy you feel for her, even as it increases the sympathy you feel for her two boys (by far the most affectionately drawn individuals in the book).

The diary format, which divides the 306-page book into easily digestible little clumps, is reader-friendly but ultimately limiting. There is no real conclusion; instead, it just limps to a close arbitrarily (publishers' deadlines, you know). You lament that she's still with her frequently absent husband, with THAT nanny, even still waiting for the renovation of her 'extra' apartment to be completed.

As a recent first-time father of twins, I find the ring of the familiar in much of what Newman writes of her children. However, most of America, let alone the world, lives in a far different reality than the author of this book, who has confirmed for me, once again, that the people who live in Manhattan are among the most screwed-up folk on the face of the earth. (As a native New Yorker, I'm entitled to say this.)
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Tears shed over answered prayers 14 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading this book made me think of a quote I once read, from Saint Teresa: "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered ones."
I loved reading Ms. Newman's articles in Ladies Home Journal each month, especially because her twin sons are almost the exact age of my own twin sons. I ordered this book hot off the press, and I wanted to love it, but...
I just can't help but feel sorry for Henry and Gus, should they read this book someday, when they come across the journal entry on page 41, dated April 2, 2001, which begins with, "I want you dead..." I have to say I found this really offensive, and I am speaking only as a Mom, and not because of any particular religious or political concern.
The rest of the book was okay, save for the fact that I found her husband to be a completely self-centered jerk, but that's not Ms. Newman's fault. I don't know - if you strongly dislike a character in a book, and the book itself is non-fiction, does that mean you don't like the book itself? No, I guess not.
So, I am giving this book 4 stars out of 5, because it was entertaining, and for the most part, I enjoyed reading it, but the 1 star I took away was for page 41.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I laughed, I cried, I loved this Book 19 April 2004
By Cynthia Heller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Evocative of Heartburn, Nora Ephron's masterpiece about being an older mother with an ambivalent spouse and evolving literary career, Newman's book is a bittersweet look at trying to be a mother and wife of an exentric and interesting husband, John. The book is not treacly or preachy, but Newman writes heartbreaking passages of warmth and wisdom. It is not a comedy, but I lauged out loud dozens of times. The book is heartfelt, moving amd excellently written. I would heartly recomend this book, not only to anyone who is a mom and wife, but for anyone who enjoyed "Heartburn."
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