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Eleven Hours Hardcover – 7 Jul 2016
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She writes like a dream - deeply moving and utterly involving. --Deborah Moggach
Erens beautifully evokes [labour's] insistent rhythms and protective deliriums... she has also written an indelible portrait of two women coming to terms with the desire, fear, crushing losses and fragile joys that have carved their lives --New York Times Book Review
Erens evokes the layered experience of living in a body - its tides of memory, sensation, and emotion - like no other writer I know. --Karen Russell, author of SWAMPLANDIA!
Pamela Erens has given us a vital, microcosmic, fundamental, riveting, distilled illumination of our most profound and misunderstood passage... As essential a novel as they come. --Elisa Albert, author of AFTER BIRTH
Pamela Erens achieves the extraordinary... a visceral story about an intensely painful experience that manages to be an intense pleasure to read. --Boston Globe
Erens is such a gifted writer that... from the first sentence [she] seizes control of her intense, provocative and deeply rewarding high-wire act of a book. --LA Times
Erens'... writing is candid without being sensational, detailed without being clinical... [An] admirable novel. --Wall Street Journal
Pamela Erens [is] one of the most gifted fiction writers we have. This exploration of a woman's time in labor is at once gritty and graceful, harrowing and compassionate... Bravo! - Robin Black, author of LIFE DRAWING
Deeply moving and radiantly written, Eleven Hours is a gorgeous, harrowing, and intensely urgent novel. Pamela Erens is a mesmerizingly smart and powerful writer - I can't stop thinking about this book. --Molly Antopol, author of THE UNAMERICANS
Eleven Hours is taut, spare and gorgeous... - Roxana Robinson, author of SPARTA
This precisely written novel vividly evokes the immediacy, the tedium, the pain and the terror of labour. Erens' compassion for her characters - the medics as well as their patients - draws the reader close into their lives, in the way that only really good writing can do. --Jane Rogers, author of THE TESTAMENT OF JESSIE LAMB
[With] exquisite prose... this novel's greatest achievement is its excruciatingly vivid depiction of what it is to grow and carry and deliver a child... Powerful-aesthetically and viscerally. --Kirkus
Erens flawlessly captures the experience of childbirth in Eleven Hours - the fear, the surprise, the other-worldly pain. --Chicago Review of Books
The book is fierce and vivid in its depiction of the exhaustion of the spirit and the rending of the flesh during childbirth... a tough and emotionally authentic story. --NPR
Extremely compelling... surprising and intimate. Bottom line: Women are heroes.--CupOfJo.com
Eleven Hours is the visceral story of two women, nurse and patient, both with complicated pasts, and the fear, regret, and hope in the moments leading up to childbirth.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
As soon as I saw the cover of the book, I knew I just had to read it. As a mother myself, I wanted to read about other people's experiences, find out about labour from another aspect as opposed to being the one IN labour. After reading a couple of pages, it soon dawned on me that this book wasn't going to be a typical 'in labour' type book. Definitely not along the same lines of 'One Born Every Minute'. Coming to that realisation wasn't a bad thing, but it certainly tested my concentration skills as the storyline is very deep and complex. 'Eleven Hours' isn't the sort of book you can read expecting the story to talk to you all the time, you have to tune into the characters and circumstances just as much. If you're not used to doing that, it can be quite a quite an intricate way of reading.
When it comes to giving birth and everything leading up to it, it's not straightforward as many of you are aware. There are the birth plans detailing how the mother-to-be wishes things to be carried out. But what Pamela Erens mentions in the story is that when you have a woman from a different culture, the birth plan then becomes even more complex. Keep that in mind but then add a midwife from another culture. A midwife who has seen a lot of births and tragedies (for both the mother AND the child). Certain things are frowned upon in various cultures, so every mother-to-be that walked into the hospital within the book, had their own stories to tell.
Before reading 'Eleven Hours', I was unaware of how complex giving birth was in different countries, what things couldn't be done, and what limited things could be done.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Erens skillfully weaves the two women’s stories together. We glide from one perspective to the other, and in those pauses between contractions we learn the backstories of both women. Their stories are fascinating and it must have been tempting to make this a longer book with more details on the lives of both women. But this is a story of a delivery.
I’m sure that this will find a large audience of women readers. I hope that men will read it too. It’s an action story. The tension and drama are almost unbearable. When Lore got to eight centimeters there was no way I could put the book down until I was finished.
I would give this book six stars if I could.
[To read the complete review, go to https://readherlikeanopenbook.com, the only blog dedicated to literary fiction by women.]
Erens has also done readers everywhere a favor. "Eleven Hours" bears witness to the extraordinary efforts of mothers in bringing forth a child. It is a testament to the dedication and compassion of labor and delivery nurses. And for men it provides an opportunity to fully grasp the all-encompassing nature of the experience.
But her book is not a documentary, it is a story. And at its heart is Lore, a single mother still reeling from the traumatic ending of her relationship with her child’s father, Asa. She comes to the hospital one winter night utterly alone, something the nurse, Franckline, originally from Haiti, notices immediately. Lore has a birth plan detailing her exacting wishes in all potential situations. She is a daunting young woman who says little and keeps Franckline at arm’s length. But the latter is also pregnant and worried about her baby for reasons both universal and specific, and she is determined to help Lore make it through the crucible of labor and delivery.
Erens slowly reveals each woman’s story, all the while holding us close to Lore’s labor. She reminds us how amazing it is that complete strangers come together in the most intimate of experiences, all to bring a baby into the world. Lore and Franckline have led completely different lives, yet they are united in their womanhood and, ultimately, shared motherhood.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of "Eleven Hours" is the way Erens has captured the stream of consciousness of Lore, as she moves from the present to the past (a fraught childhood and a complex love triangle that led her to this moment) and the future (concern about her child and the possible lives they will have together).