Book Review: The Rules of Conception

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Author: Angela Lawrence
ISBN: 9781743560365
RRP: $29.99

Rachel Richards is a 35 year old career woman looking back on a string of unsuccessful relationships and worrying about how to make her dreams of motherhood a reality. After being stood up by her current boyfriend on her 35th birthday she dumps him via Facebook relationship status change and wallows in her despair for the evening before heading home to spend the weekend with her parents. This goes as I would expect really with lots of talk about her biological clock, her siblings telling her time’s running out while her mum tells her she has plenty of time. None of which you want to hear after a break up.

Some soul searching and lots of online research later Rachel decides that she’s going to take this matter into her own hands and have a baby by herself. Single Motherhood as a choice is gaining popularity and on the verge of becoming a movement, Rachel delves into all of the options for pursuing single motherhood and how she can make it happen from co-parenting and adoption to anonymous sperm donors and finally known donors. Never once does she seriously consider heading out and hooking up.

Rachel is driven and ambitious and determined to get what she wants but she’s also a total doormat. At times I found it quite difficult to get a real handle on her. In regards to getting pregnant she was dogged in her research, left no site unread and no option unexplored until she found what she thought was the best option for her. She knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to go after it. On the other hand we then see her at work and she says nothing and takes all kinds of abuse from her boss.

rules of conception

The whole work situation, scenario and setup didn’t sit right with me actually and the more I think about it the less I like it. Rachel works in media relations and is a communications manager yet we only hear about the amount of involved research she manages to fit into her workday. Her boss is a moody and horrible woman who loves to humiliate Rachel and is often not in the office, she never seems to do any work of her own but is forever trying to take credit. This doesn’t strike me as how these positions could be successful. Then there’s Annabelle who we never actually see or hear about working and only collects gossip.

I like that Lawrence has tackled this issue. I think it is quite topical and it is fantastic to read about the ways in which this is possible and how you could go about becoming a mother if you face challenges. I was challenged, in totally different ways, so I understand the heartache in sitting back questioning if it will ever happen. I applaud Rachel for deciding not to sit back and wait for the perfect situation but to go out and make it happen. She explored her options, crunched the numbers and went after what she wanted. This is a great example for women who face challenges in their journey to motherhood.

The other thing that strikes me as odd is the way that she found the perfect donor first shot, seems unlikely considering she was quite specific in what she wanted.

We watched Rachel grow throughout the novel, which was fantastic to see. She grew a backbone and started to really stand up for herself. She tackled the ever escalating issues with her boss and managed to come to an extremely workable relationship and later on we actually find out a bit about why she was the boss from hell.

All of that hard work on her assertiveness seems to come unraveled at the end of the book. We spend so much time researching options that the actual pregnancy and labour seems quite rushed and then the book just stops. I can see how the story revolved around Rachel’s decision and her journey to motherhood but I would have liked a little more in the end of the book. I would have liked to see how things round out with Digby and how the agreement works when it stops being an intellectual discussion.

I really am stuck now. I like the story and I like Rachel’s journey but there were elements that just didn’t resonate with me, and storylines that started strong and seemed to fizzle. I do love that it’s a way to demonstrate that 35 and single doesn’t necessarily mean the end of motherhood dreams.

This is one that I didn’t fall in love with and one that I quite enjoyed as I read it, a lot of my issues with it only became apparent as I sat to write the review. Still a book that I would recommend.

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