Though the title might suggest it, this is not a misery memoir, but the story of one woman's search for the truth about what happened to her grandmother, and by extension, what happened to many women before we truly understood what the trauma of giving birth might sometimes entail.
A very short passage of time - perhaps of no more than twenty minutes duration - on Wednesday 27 August 1919, a few minutes before half-past five in the morning Beth Wood drowned the surviving two children she had recently given birth to - twin daughters - a third daughter had not survived the birth.
This very frail woman had haemorrhaged badly at the birth and the doctor had had to be sent for; she had been in the care of a midwife, and had previously given birth to four healthy children. However, her only daughter, Maisie, had died of Diptheria very recently. She had been told that she would have to have an operation to take care of the mess this latest birth had made of her reproductive organs. She was probably in a state of chronic mental and physical fatigue as well as frightened and confused.
There were worries throughout the country and in many areas there was political unrest and protests. Many men had returned from war to find there were no jobs, and therefore no means of feeding and clothing themselves and their families. Beth was a great worrier, and even though her husband had regular work, she was someone who constantly worried about the future.
Sian Busby tells this story very simply and without any literary embellishment, or much flair or flourish. It is a terrible indictment of the lack of understanding the medical and legal professions of the time had of puerperal insanity.