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Book Review: Moondance

13 March 2017
Appeared in BioNews 892


By Diane Chandler

Published by Blackbird Books

ISBN-10: 0995473528, ISBN-13: 978-0995473522

Buy this book from Amazon UK

The front cover of this novel declares: 'How can you long for someone who doesn't exist?' For those who desperately want a baby, that child may already exist in their minds eye, even though they have yet to become a physical being.

Diane Chandler won the People's Book Prize for her first novel, 'The Road to Donetsk'. In 'Moondance', her second novel, she charts the story of Cat, a highly successful political lobbyist, and her husband Dom as they attempt to have a child through fertility treatment.

The story begins with Cat, in a private fertility clinic, learning how to inject herself with the drug that will stimulate her ovaries to produce the eggs needed for IVF. Chandler's use of a first-person narrative is effective, showing Cat's perspective as she first embarks on the treatment journey. The reader is taken from that first injection in the clinic, and the hope attached to that first IVF cycle, through to the subsequent deterioration in the relationship between Cat and Dom as each cycle proves unsuccessful.

The book cleverly portrays the psychological stress of fertility treatment on Cat through her detachment from her own body when she is undergoing treatment. While injecting herself, Cat describes how her flesh seems to belong to another person. When she undergoes her first embryo placement, she says: 'I resort to my last recourse, of pretending it is happening to somebody else.'

The story of Cat and Dom's relationship unfolds over the course of the book, alternating between past and present, from first meeting to the final conclusion of the book.

In all honesty, I found Cat a somewhat unlikeable character, and this did affect my enjoyment of the book. She comes across as quite selfish, and after a while I found her slightly grating. Cat does not have to worry about money, but the reality for many going through fertility treatment is that, all too often, only those with the ability to pay can access treatment. As the story progressed, I found that my feelings towards her softened a little. After all, no amount of money can dampen the anguish of repeated fertility treatment and a failing marriage.

Although the almost-perfect relationship between the financially successful Cat and Dom at the start had a slight touch of unreality about it, the practical details of the treatment Cat undergoes, and the devastating effect upon their relationship are strikingly realistic. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy fiction that engages with the grittier aspects of fertility treatment.

Buy Moondance from Amazon UK.

11 December 2017 - by Eleanor Taylor 
Despite concerted efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding fertility struggles, there still appears to be a 'facelessness' to this incredibly common issue, which suggests that fertility is still very much a taboo subject...
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