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On the Metamorphosis of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Motherhood

Lucy Jones author


Publisher:Penguin Books Ltd

Published:6th Jun '24

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Matrescence cover

*A New Statesman and Daily Mail BOOK OF THE YEAR*
*Longlisted for the 2024 Women's Prize for Non-Fiction*

'The best book I've ever read about motherhood' Jude Rogers, Observer
'I kept scribbling in the margins: 'We need to know this stuff!'' Joanna Pocock, Spectator

A radical new examination of the transition into motherhood and how it affects the mind, brain and body

During pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood, women undergo a far-reaching physiological, psychological and social metamorphosis.

There is no other time in a human's life course that entails such dramatic change-other than adolescence. And yet this life-altering transition has been sorely neglected by science, medicine and philosophy. Its seismic effects go largely unrepresented across literature and the arts. Speaking about motherhood as anything other than a pastel-hued dream remains, for the most part, taboo.

In this ground-breaking, deeply personal investigation, acclaimed journalist and author Lucy Jones brings to light the emerging concept of 'matrescence'. Drawing on new research across various fields - neuroscience and evolutionary biology; psychoanalysis and existential therapy; sociology, economics and ecology - Jones shows how the changes in the maternal mind, brain and body are far more profound, wild and enduring than we have been led to believe. She reveals the dangerous consequences of our neglect of the maternal experience and interrogates the patriarchal and capitalist systems that have created the untenable situation mothers face today.

Here is an urgent examination of the modern institution of motherhood, which seeks to unshackle all parents from oppressive social norms. As it deepens our understanding of matrescence, it raises vital questions about motherhood and femininity; interdependence and individual identity; as well as about our relationships with each other and the living world.

A thrilling examination of what it means to be a mother … Myths are smashed from page one … essential reading, roaring and ready to change conversations -- Jude Rogers * Observer *
I kept scribbling in the margins: 'We need to know this stuff!' ... wide-ranging in its scope, packed with statistics … comes as close as it’s possible to describing this indescribable moment in a woman’s life -- Joanna Pocock * Spectator *
Reading this, I felt a jolt of recognition ... I wish someone could have handed me Matrescence -- Sophie McBain * New Statesman *
This deeply personal book takes on “fairytale” ideas about being a mother … An exploration of motherhood – the contrast between myth and reality and between individual and social expectations ... Jones writes beautifully and with searing honesty about the life-changing physical and emotional impact of having a child -- Rachel Sylvester * The Times *
She is a gifted writer … A vital, hopeful book ... to read Matrescence is to emerge chastened and ready for change -- Marianne Levy * i News *
Beautiful... boundary-pushing … Jones is a pioneer ... she skilfully elucidates the monumental shifts motherhood brings ... I found myself inwardly cheering -- Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett * Guardian *
It is difficult to put into words the importance of this book. I felt it in my heart. I carried it with me, I think I always will. Jones has written the book we desperately needed -- Daisy Johnson
Matrescence took me on a journey of reminescence through my own pregnancies and early years of motherhood, eliciting wry recognition, surprise at new evidence and insight, and gratitude for a work that really sees what it is to mother -- Clare Chambers
A beautiful contemplation of the extraordinary yet ordinary metamorphosis that adult humans undergo as they become mothers ... I was entranced ... Matrescence is a passionate and powerful maternal roar for change -- Gaia Vince
Hypnotic, fascinating and long overdue. I am so glad it exists. A gift of a book and told beautifully. -- Laura Dockrill
As a first-time mother, Matrescence is probably the most reassuring book I've ever read... Buy it for every parent you know -- and then maybe buy a copy to send to your local MP as well -- Holly Bourne * Daily Mail *Books of the Year* *
Matrescence is a wild and beautiful book, a blend of memoir, science, psychoanalytical thinking and nature writing with a poetic sensibility and a strong sense of political purpose * New Statesman *Best Books of the Summer* *
Matrescence is the book I've been waiting for. It feels like a gift. Radical, questioning and profound, it urges us to recognise and honour the many transformations of motherhood. With the deepest compassion for her fellow mothers, Lucy Jones shows us how contemporary society stacks the odds against them and calls us to imagine new ways of parenting which care for and support those at its heart -- Liz Berry
You'll marvel, wince and want to take to the streets after reading Lucy Jones' sweeping and courageous multidisciplinary survey of the motherlands. I wish we'd read it before we had our kid. (Mother) nature read in truth and awe -- Tom Mustill
I was challenged, comforted, educated and nourished by this book ... It is the single most powerful, life-changing, heartachingly healing thing I have been given ... The kind of book we must ensure every one of us reads -- Kerri ní Dochartaigh
A beautiful, intelligent book that is as tender and moving as it is demanding and urgent. There is something insightful and original in the way Lucy Jones seamlessly combines the analytical with the emotional, and it is an absolutely essential new addition to the literature of mothering and parenthood -- Clover Stroud
This book should be a must-read for pretty much everyone. We don't talk about the hidden realities of the biological, social and psychological effects of matrescence nearly enough. Thank you, Lucy Jones, for changing that -- Dr Jodi Pawluski
Fascinating -- Henry Mance (Twitter)
Dazzling... Matrescence cements Jones' place as one of the most talented nonfiction writers we have. It really is *astonishingly* good -- Oli Franklin-Wallis (Twitter)
Matrescence is going to set mothers’ worlds alight. Finally, someone has properly expressed what the process of becoming a mother does to women: their sense of self and their brains. We all owe her a debt because it wasn’t just in our heads -- Emma Barnett * Red *
Jones writes like a novelist, capturing wild swings of emotion, doubt, the adoration of a new baby, and (always) the tension between what she thinks is expected of her and the pressure of her own mixed-up feelings * Daily Mail *
Engaging and sensitive … Matrescence is an important work -- Naomi Stadlen * JUNO Magazine *
A truly extraordinary book- radically eye-opening, beautiful and luminously written -- Fatima Bhutto (via X)
A probing meditation … Seamlessly weaving personal recollections with broader social analysis … Elevated by inventive formal flourishes and searching reflection, Matrescence will resonate with mothers of all stripes * Publishers Weekly *
In this maddening journey of motherhood, I encourage everyone to let Matrescence be your soothing guide. From my early days of motherhood to a few years deep in the trenches, Lucy's words and wisdom continues to guide and comfort me. Matrescence is the sister I never had but always longed for as I try to figure out how to mother in this world. It's a fierce book, equally tender as it is sharp. It is my kind of bible that I will carry with me (and gift to others!) for a long time -- Szilvia Molnar * author of The Nursery *
A deep dive into the radical transformation of becoming a mother...An intimate, insightful memoir * Kirkus *
Raw and real ... A fascinating and worthwhile read, this book for mothers is steeped in research that is both validating and illuminating ... Matrescece is a scientific and poetic ode to motherhood * Library Journal *
A sensation … Wide-ranging in scope and hugely ambitious … For me, the book was a balm * New Yorker *

ISBN: 9781802061307

Dimensions: 198mm x 130mm x 19mm

Weight: 241g

320 pages