“The Magpie” by Elizabeth Day and the desire to become parents – iO Donna
Lmagpie sneaks in and breaks a vase but the happy couple who are visiting this “perfect house” for the first time are not discouraged and move anyway. The magpie after all, it flies away but will give the title to a wonderful novel (Neri Pozza) to remind us that our pursuit of happiness is made of hospitalityof more or less sinister presences that we cross with our life.
Even the couple Marisa and Jake is grappling with a search, the result of a perfect fit: she, who wants a serious manwhich makes you feel safe and he, who wants a woman with whom to build a future and soon, very soon, have children. This is how projects and contingencies arrive which, as we know, are overcome if the goal remains unchanged. The unexpected is Kate, the tenant who goes to their house: with her the dream of a child turns into a nightmare and the protagonist of the book reveals himself. It is motherhood. In all its forms, in that surrogate to be exact. The rhythm of a psychological thriller, the precise and rounded writing: no novel had ever dealt with the theme as does Elizabeth Day, 43, a British journalist and bestselling writer.
Why did he write it?
I was thinking about a new novel when a dear friend and TV writer told me: “I don’t know how to write anything other than the worries I live.” Of course, every book treats them through the filter of fiction. But in this case the question “what worries me?” it was decisive. I am 40 years old and am looking to become a mother. I wrote a book about what happens when you fight for something that isn’t easy, on what are the truths behind fertility treatments. The pain, the fear, the difficult balance between hope and realism. This is everything I wanted to read in IVF centers, to see myself in a story and not feel lost and full of shame. The experience of female infertility has always been marginalized, talking about it hasn’t been easy even for women. In this he influenced me He shatters it by Elena Ferrante, when she writes that every aspect of female complexity must demand space and respect denied by the literary canon.
Marisa attends a group of pregnant women who do yoga to activate her pheromones and get pregnant. Her motherhood becomes an obsession.
The desire to become parents drives people to obsessive gestures. I have spent the last ten years between IVF and egg freezing, going through three abortions and a divorce. It was the battle of my life. Now I am happily married again and I know I have little time for my dream, I owe a lot to science but it is not easy not to give up while the others become mothers easily and on social networks you only see ads and photos of children. It seems that others have a perfect life and you don’t, and only out of a biological oddity.
Envy is the second sentiment of the novel.
Yes, I wanted to explore this tension, the envy and the feeling of having almost everything and knowing that it is not enough. I wanted to talk about what happens to you and your relationship, as you put all your energy and love into the pursuit of an elusive desire. I wrote most of La gazza after my third miscarriage. The pandemic had just broken out and after two months my pregnancy had stopped. There was a lockdown and the isolation didn’t help me. Of that pain I wanted something to remain, the testament of an experience condemned to silence.
Marisa was abandoned by her mother who went away with her little sister and Jake is the victim of a dominant mother. There are many mothers. The of her?
My mother and mother-in-law are lovely. English culture on the one hand idealizes motherhood and on the other rejects it because it does not value its social contribution. There are many mothers who talk on Instagram about how difficult it is to manage their terrible children and a job that requires a nice glass of gin at the end of the day! They are ironic of course but the irony always comes from the truth and is the dark part of the theme. I wanted to explore this too and it is no coincidence that I faced three different forms of motherhood.
A pregnant woman lives in a cloud that is a mix of reality and unreality. Fears, hormones. Marisa feels herself in a labyrinth and, in order not to lose her head, she thinks about the solid things in her life. Jake who loves her and the son of hers that she will have.
Pregnancy is an amazing miraculous yet sinister state. Another being makes space in your body and if you have had a difficult past and fragile feelings you never know what will happen. I use pregnancy in the book as a metaphor for this idea of individuality inhabited and dominated by another person. A bit like what happens to the house where Marisa and Jake live, which I compare to a body where Kate suddenly moves. Being a parent is also a constant compromise between who you are and those parts of yourself that you are willing to give up for your child.
The ability to procreate is a reason for living for the women of the book.
For me no! A woman can feel fulfilled without having chosen to have children, and indeed there are many around like that, brilliant. There are equally brilliant women who would have wanted children but have not arrived. However, their strength and beauty are even brighter thanks to this path. I believe and hope that motherhood arrives in my life but my presence in the world does not depend on it.
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