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“Hi, I’m Eleanor Limprecht and this is an excerpt from a novel that I’m writing called Koel.
The Wednesday of mothers’ group Rachel always thinks: I don’t have to do this. Nobody is making me go. But if she didn’t, it would be worse. This is her chance to see other mothers, other babies, and to open up the tiny world that she exists in with Lola for an hour or two. The early childhood nurse has left them to their own devices but the woman’s judgemental eye lingers. None of the mothers are quite honest with one another.
These are the things that are safe to discuss:
• How little sleep you are getting. How much your baby wakes.
• The colour, consistency and/or frequency of his or her poo.
• The cute, smart, sweet or amazing things your baby has done.
• Ditto except your partner.
• The annoying qualities of your partner.
• How much you dislike your mother-in-law.
These are the things you could discuss if you were feeling brave:
• That you gave your baby some formula.
• That you miss your job.
• That you have (or haven’t) had sex with your partner since your baby was born.
These are the things you would never discuss:
• That you hate this.
• That you think about letting go of the pram. On a steep hill. On a busy street.
• That you have hidden all of the sharp knives.
• That your body is no longer your own.
• That you don’t want to be touched – ever – by anyone.
And so Rachel manages to hide her misery. She just talks less than the other women, listens more. They meet in cafes or parks if the weather is nice, often by the water’s edge, spreading out rugs, bringing toys for the babies, watching them roll and kick together in the sun. They take turns with food. Some mothers bake elaborate tea cakes – almost an affront in itself –others just stop at Coles on their way, or Bakers Delight, or the French patisserie up the road.
In her mind, Rachel rates the get-togethers. One being the worst, ten being the best. The ones and twos are when Lola is the only one crying. When a mum talks about how she never thought it would be this easy, or good, and she wouldn’t give it up for the world.
There has never been a ten but the better gatherings, the fives and the sixes, are when someone (not her) breaks down. When another mum’s week has been hard and her baby hasn’t slept and her husband hasn’t understood. And there are tears, and tissues, and assurances that “it will get better”, “it will get easier”. Rachel would never do this. She couldn’t bear a public audience for her pain. But it calms her, watching other women break down.
She likes to imagine being that open with her emotions, being able to talk about things. She likes to imagine what it must feel like to be consoled by a group. To be accepted.”
ABOUT ELEANOR LIMPRECHT:
I am a Sydney-based writer and journalist. I write book reviews for the Sun Herald and I have written one unpublished novel and have two more in progress, including Koel, which is a novel about a woman with postnatal depression who leaves her husband and child. I am originally from the US and moved here in 2002. I have a Masters in Writing from UTS.
“I have been to Varuna once on a residency in 2009. It was a wonderful experience to be in an environment dedicated so completely to writing. I was shortlisted for the Varuna Harper Collins award for manuscript development in 2007 and shortlisted for the Varuna Publisher Fellowship awards in 2011.” Eleanor Limprecht
Articles and reviews in the Sun Herald, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, the Australian and various other publications.
A poem, “Hot Air Balloon”, published in What you do and don’t want UTS Writers’ Anthology 2007.
Agent: Lyn Tranter at Australian Literary Management
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