Review

Nine Months in August

by Adriana Bourgoin

"You
wake up, take a test...and then, there it is, you're pregnant. And
pregnancy means a baby and a baby means we're someone's mother and
father and Oh, my God." Revelations like this fly hot and heavy
when Gretchen Fox finds that, despite her perfect planning of
everything, she is accidentally and irrevocably pregnant, with no
category set up in her Filofax. For a woman who makes her living as
an event organizer at a large hotel, this is a major boo-boo.

Having started pregnancy off balance, Gretchen compounds the
chaos, shuffling from happening to happening without her usual
aplomb. It helps that her mentor, Meredith (knowledgeable down to
the last apgar when it comes to other people's pregnancies but at a
loss as the mother of an obstreperous toddler), and her best,
inseparable friend Louisa are pregnant too. Gretchen obediently
goes to Meredith’s OB and keeps meeting her two
pals for coffee, until one black day when Louisa starts to
bleed and cramp. With the loss of Louisa's baby comes the loss of
Louisa’s loyalty and Gretchen's emotional anchor.

Luckily Gretchen’s husband Fredrick is there for her. He's
thrilled at the prospect of fatherhood. His only flaw as a partner
seems to be his inability to keep secrets from his family, in whom,
Gretchen learns to her embarrassment, Fredrik confides the couple's
most intimate moments. Fredrik, a carpenter who looks seriously
sexy in shorts, goes on loving (and making love to) Gretchen
despite her rapidly emerging facial hair, wide butt and constant
need for sleep. It is Fredrik who, despising all "Hallmark
holidays," nonetheless buys a newborn-sized onesie and presents it
to Gretchen on Valentine's Day when she is a scant six weeks
along.

However, Gretchen makes it clear that despite his virtues, Fredrik
isn't one of those "we're pregnant"-type dads, and for that
she’s grateful, "because if he even, for one minute,
attempted to take credit for the work my body is doing right now,
what with the stretching, scarring and gum bleeding, I'd have to
kill him." 

Gretchen is the prototype of modern womanhood. A smart,
thirty-something first-time mom with family issues, her mother
has never allowed herself to recover from Gretchen's father's
sudden death. This makes it hard for Gretchen to unlink from her
own grief, and with a grandchild on the way, she’s taken to
calling herself “Mother Fox” to her daughter’s
chagrin. Once Gretchen begins to regroup and accept the fact that
she’s definitely going to have a baby, she buys hundreds of
dollars worth of pregnancy guides and reads them all. She sets up a
Pregnancy section in her cherished Filofax and starts making
copious lists. Her Internet searches on such subjects as
amniocentesis are as terrifying as they are informative, and we
agonize for her when she has to face the possibility, dramatically
played out in the mid-section of the book, that her baby may have a
genetic defect.

As the pregnancy gathers steam, Gretchen has to deal with the
takeover of the hotel by a big corporation and Louisa’s
publicly-displayed extramarital dalliance. Everything seems to be
converging on that first week in August when the baby is due to put
in his appearance. Amid the confusion there are compensations:
Mother Fox shares some shards of Gretchen’s fractured past
that bring her father back to the realm of happy memory.
Fredrik’s overbearing family pitches in to create the nursery
of Gretchen’s dreams. Once it’s time for the labor
--- during a city-wide blackout --- we’re pushing along
with our heroine and trying not to laugh, expecting and getting a
healthy…well, you’ll need to read to the end to find
out the gender of Gretchen’s offspring, because she decided
not to be told in advance.

Adriana Bourgoin, a real-life graduate of Smith and mother of two,
tells Gretchen’s story with wit and grace, like she’s
been every waddling maternity-clothes-challenged step of the way.
Smart moms should add NINE MONTHS IN
AUGUST to that stack of pregnancy must-reads.



Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott on January 13, 2011

Nine Months in August
by Adriana Bourgoin

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • ISBN-10: 0758217315
  • ISBN-13: 9780758217318