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Eleven Hours Paperback – 2 Mar 2017

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (2 Mar. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 178239981X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782399810
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Childbirth, this uniquely female form of heroism, is rarely documented in our literature, and I've never seen it rendered with the extraordinary insight, urgency, and potency of Eleven Hours -- Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! Gorgeous, harrowing, and intensely urgent - I can't stop thinking about this book -- Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans I loved Eleven Hours... A gorgeous, haunting, slender novel -- Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist A story about birth, which is to say a story about life and death... A novel with the -adrenaline-rush pacing of an action movie New York Times Exhilarating Wall Street Journal Extraordinary Boston Globe Intense, provocative...a deeply rewarding high-wire act The National

Book Description

A fierce and fearless novel of complicated pasts, uncertain futures and of the organic, bloody beauty of childbirth and motherhood.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Thank you to Atlantic Books for giving me a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.

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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece 17 May 2016
By Len Joy - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a masterpiece. A recently separated woman, Lore, checks into the hospital alone to deliver her first baby. She is assisted by Haitian immigrant nurse, Franckline. This book is literally told in real time. It takes about eleven hours to read (I’m slow) and it is probably one of the few books where the present tense is clearly the right tense to use.

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, powerful portrait of the bonds we build with the significant strangers who pass through our lives 4 July 2016
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I fell in love with Erens' writing in The Virgins, and while this book is a completely different animal, what it shares with her previous novel is that once again, Erens has set herself a seemingly impossible task. In The Virgins, Erens chose for her narrator a character that existed only on the obsessive periphery of the protagonists, and must admit then that much of the story is only his own invention. In Eleven Hours, Erens limits herself to only the stretch of time that spans a hospital labor. There is an intense intimacy that blossoms between the two women, the laboring woman, and the secretly pregnant L&D nurse attending her. As readers, we're given glimpses into the secrets both women carry while the women themselves exchange little more than what's necessary to accomplish the work in front of them--the delivery of Lore's baby. Still there's a deep authenticity to the bond that grows between them. But of course we know that this is not the beginning of a friendship. This relationship, powerful as it is, begins and ends in single stretch of time. One of the real strengths of the novel is the incredible risk it takes with resolution, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Like the women themselves, our intimacy with these characters is fleeting. For me, this makes the novel even more powerful in it's mimicry of the bonds we can build but not retain with the significant strangers who pass through our lives.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and tears: the most truthful, empathetic novel in a long while 29 Dec. 2016
By Diana F. - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book has been my Christmas companion, very appropriate to remind me the other side of every birth, what really goes on in the minds of mothers to be and their nurses, more so when the one in this story is soon to be a mother, too. I could make a literary critique and say how deft Pamela Erens is (I loved so much her earlier two novels!) and how comfortable she feels within the rather European shorter novel format but I prefer to stick to my still fresh emotions. I was moved, I cried at parts of the novel because everything felt so true, so genuine, so close to what really happens within those hours, and I couldn't let the book until I finished it. Can books be judged on what they provoke as an emotional response? Yes, when the writer writes them with that specific purpose, to create an emotional experience based on a refined, well-created empathy with the characters. Pamela Erens has wonderfully suceeded, giving birth to a shining gem in the current literary landscape. An author to watch, we'll see her rise among her peers.
4.0 out of 5 stars She reminds us how amazing it is that complete strangers come together in the ... 24 Aug. 2016
By Bill Wolfe - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Childbirth is a contradictory experience. It is both indelibly etched in the mother’s mind and, with time, a blur of physical and emotional extremity. Some have compared it to war. Pamela Erens has done an impressive job of capturing one woman’s labor and delivery in her fever dream of a novel, "Eleven Hours," which follows a 31-year-old New York City resident named Lore Tannenbaum from her admission to the hospital’s maternity ward through to the birth of her child.

[To read the complete review, go to, 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).
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing and subtle 26 Jan. 2017
By Urban Larson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It took me considerably less than eleven hours to read this absolutely engrossing book. The two main characters - a woman in labor and the nurse who looks after her - are fully realized and complex and their back stories deep and fascinating. The author is masterly at toggling back and forth between the intensity of the present and the two characters' memories and experiences up to that point. The story is full of subtle details that enhance the reader's understanding of the characters and make this a rich story that lingers in the mind long after the book has been read. I have been recommending Eleven Hours to all of my friends, both men and women, even though it could be pigeonholed as a women's book.
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