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The Delivery Room [Paperback]

Sylvia Brownrigg
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 May 2007
Told from the therapist's couch, this is a story about people, about life and death, about relationships, regrets and reconciliations

Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Ed edition (18 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330442430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330442435
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 684,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'novel of depth and intelligence based around a psycotherapist and
the odd assortment of patients that parades through her office.' -- 100 Best Holiday Reads, Sunday Times

'one of the most outstanding and properly adult novels of recent
years.' -- Observer

`Brownrigg explores the need and repression, hurt and loneliness that lie at the heart of so many marriages.'
-- Sunday Times


`Brownrigg explores the need and repression, hurt and loneliness that lie at the heart of so many marriages.'

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok novel but slow 4 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Story is good, character development is good but the book for me was very slow and can be a bit monotonous in parts. Very little actual dialogue.

The story takes place in London during the Balkan war and is about the Serbian therapist Mira and her relationships with both her own and her husband's family and her patients during the period in which not only is her native country at war but her husband Peter is stuggling with illness.
This brings turmoil in her relationships with all around her.
I found the first half of the novel "more difficult" to get through and it seemed to pick up half way and then I finished it quickly.
Maybe the novel which deals with pscychotherapists is not my cup of tea.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The intricacies of the psyche 5 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This novel has a rather impressive blending of the personal and the political. Treating such subjects as the wars in Yugoslavia and coping with death, the presence or absence of family, it is all elegantly written and, bar the serious and sad subject matter, most enjoyable. In my opinion contemporary novels should be like this. Exemplary
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book 11 Dec 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beautifully written. Insight into world of therapy as well as what it must have been like being Serbian at the time when they were demonised is impressive. Highly recommended.
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16 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy 21 May 2006
Beautifully written. At times incredibly moving. Brownrigg has created some very real characters, I feel I know them well and that they must exist! A compassionate account of many difference perspectives. Clever work that remains accessable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There was nobody left uncut or unscarred." 10 Nov 2008
By E. Bukowsky - Published on
Sylvia Brownrigg's "The Delivery Room" is set in London in 1998 and 1999, and focuses on Peter Braverman and his Serbian-born wife, Mira. Peter is a teacher and scholar who specializes in Russian literature, while Mira practices psychotherapy in their Camden Town flat. Peter calls Mira's office "the delivery room," and it is an apt description. In some ways, Mira's calm and soothing presence, along with her astute questioning, leads her patients to rediscover an inner strength that they thought was gone forever. At her best, Mira helps her clients to be psychologically reborn, with a renewed optimism that enables them to face their problems. Since some of Mira's patients are obsessed with the subject of children--having them, relating to them, and losing them--"the delivery room," as a title, has an added dimension.

Brownrigg skillfully explores the troubles and traumas that can shake us to the core. Among them are infidelity, infertility, terminal illness, family dysfunction, war, prejudice, and loneliness. While Mira tries to connect with her clients (including the "Mourning Madonna" who is devastated after tragically losing her baby, "the Bigot," a "kettle or rage " who is bitter, sarcastic, and aggressive, and "the Aristocrat" a wealthy woman with a posh accent and a sense of entitlement), she is also dealing with serious personal problems. Mira may be in London, but her heart and mind are also in what is left of Yugoslavia, where her family struggles to survive the Balkan wars that have brought death and destruction to a formerly beautiful land. Mira is fortunate to have a husband she adores who is also very much in love with her after more than twenty years of marriage. Unfortunately, she is destined to encounter fierce personal challenges that will test her own emotional resilience.

This is an intimate and deliberately paced book, with keen passages of dark humor, pitch-perfect dialogue, and lovely and precise descriptive writing. Brownrigg takes the time to compassionately investigate each character's inner life. She demonstrates that, although other people's problems may seem trivial or remote to us, to be truly human means to understand the universality of loss, pain, and sorrow. Mira has the gift of relating to those who feel broken. It is her wish to help them become whole, or at least to look to the future with something resembling hope. She wants the same thing for herself, and since her work enmeshes her in each client's "web of distress," she regularly forces herself to set aside her own concerns in order to focus on those who have come seeking wisdom and solace. "The Delivery Room" is an insightful and touching novel in which Sylvia Brownrigg sheds light on our hidden selves, enabling us to better understand the threads that bind us together and the obstacles that keep us apart.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fruit of the Womb 31 Dec 2008
By D. P. Birkett - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mira is a Serbian psychotherapist, living in London, and, like many fictional (and real) shrinks, has a complicated family situation. Her husband, Peter, is dying of cancer; she has a stepson; her sister is married to her ex-boy friend. Her patients are brought in as characters. This simplifies the author's problems with plot construction, but diffuses interest for the reader. The unifying theme is people's attitudes to having children. One character has suffered a stillbirth, another is infertile, another's husband does not want a baby, and so forth.
The time is in the late 1990's, with Srebnica and Kosovo going on, and the Serbs being the unpopular side in London. (Some Britishers did remember the three of Hitler's divisions that the Yugoslavs accounted for).
There is a lot of interior monologue. It's very well done. In the case of Mira it's one of the best evocations of what goes on in a therapist's mind that I've read, but in the case of the other characters it becomes longwinded and makes the book too long. (The fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of Genesis come to mind. They dealt with fertility issues things differently then and got the story finished in four hundred words).
Perhaps there is some reason for the author's vagueness about Mira's training and qualifications but I found it frustrating. Mira is evidently not medically qualified, and is not a psychoanalyst, although the Tavistock Clinic and Anna Freud and Melanie Klein and Winnicott are mentioned. Her patients are young, well-educated adults and are not severely ill by psychiatric standards. She sees them for an hour once or twice a week over a period of years, and is not employed by the National Health Service. Her technique is psychoanalytic, with a touch of Carl Rogers . She formulates the patients' root problems in her own mind, intuitively, listens to them free-associate, and then nudges them with "aha" and enigmatic questions to agree with her formulation and think they thought of it themselves.
Looking back at what I've written I sound critical, but really this is a superb book. I enjoyed it and learned from it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather cold and simplistic 27 Jan 2010
By T-Ro - Published on
The biggest problem I had with this book was not that it was boring, but that the main character, Mira, was altogether unsympathetic even though, I believe, she wasn't deliberately written as such. Through her eyes, one is introduced to the patients of her London practice, yet for a book on psychotherapy, one is left with very little sense of emotional connection between the therapist and her patients. As characters, the patients are rather flat and cliche, reflecting Mira's own assessment of and engagement with them. She gives them nicknames, such as "the mourning madonna" and "the bigot," which signal her irritation with them, and unfortunately, this irritation proved to be contagious to this reader. It should be said, I personally don't need or necessarily want to sympathize with the characters of novels I read as long as the characters are engaging and complex. Finally, the title, "the Delivery room" echos the novels play with themes of death and (re)birth which are hashed out in all manners: dramas of pregnancy and fertility, death of young and old, relationships torn and re-patched within the frame of disintegrating Serbia, etc., Not a bad idea. Unfortunately, this book uses rather dimensionless characters for un-exploratory play with unsubtly rendered themes.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring 5 Feb 2009
By C. Hayward - Published on
I can't seem to get past the first hundred pages. The main character, Mira, goes on and on about her homeland, how no one understands her, how she's hated in England, blah, blah, blah. I just can't get into the story. For the people who thought this book was a "masterpiece", more power to them. I'm glad I checked it out of the library and didn't waste good money on it. Yawn!
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