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The Delivery Room by Sylvia Brownrigg

The Delivery Room

by Sylvia Brownrigg

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An Oxford academic deems his wife's workroom, where she works as a therapist, "The Delivery Room," because that's where ideas are born. Her Serbian background, causes her discomfort--both personally, as her country is bombed by NATO planes, and professionally, by her patients, who assume she is some kind of barbarian. A wonderfully literate, intelligent tale set in current-day England, that speaks to the realities of an enduring marriage, parenthood (with a twist), the therapist-patient dynamic, and the inner life of a very interesting Belgrade-born woman.
  neddludd | Mar 21, 2010 |
This is a sensitive, beautifully written book, with a wonderful use of language and turn of phrase. I enjoyed it so much - thoroughly recommend to anyone who doesn't need action sequences or shocks, but thoughtful prose. ( )
  helensdatter | Sep 22, 2009 |
Mira is a therapist in London, originally from Yugoslavia, married to Peter, an academic, who has a son Graham, the product of a brief relationship from his youth. We meet several of Mira's patients, who are linked in some way to pieces of her real life, although she doesn't know this, nor do the patients. The story is set during the war in Yugoslavia form which Mira fled and her identity as a Serb changes what her patients and others project on to her. Her love for Peter and his for her is very real and very touching - they are real partners. When he is diagnosed with lymphoma and declines rapidly, it is heartbreaking. Paired with his decline is the talk among Mira's patients of babies, trying to have them, getting over a stillbirth, and of Graham's wife Clare and her desire to have child. Brownrigg switched narrators suddenly which I found a bit jarring. I also found the conversations with Svetlana, Mira's sister still in Yugoslavia one of the weaker elements of this book. This was book i liked, not loved. ( )
  ccayne | May 17, 2009 |
How do you prefer your therapists? Professorial – hair short and neatly trimmed, tiny glasses, long face creased in all the proper places? Or motherly – ample body housing an ample heart, eyes a warm, inviting shade of brown? The latter is Mira Braverman, a Serbian-born therapist, married to Englishman Peter Braverman. They have a quiet and satisfying marriage and live in 1998 London. Peter has coined the phrase “Delivery Room” to describe Mira’s office – the place where her patients deliver their stories. Unfortunately, as a part of an occasional predilection to repetitive writing that mars Brownrigg’s otherwise fine prose, the reader is reminded no fewer than three times that Peter is the author of this phrase.

Over bangers-and-mash dinners with Peter, Mira, in what feels like a rupture of the patient-client contract, dishes dirt on her clients; to her credit, she keeps their names hidden behind such monikers as The Bigot, The American, the Aristocrat, and The Mourning Madonna—I began to wonder what my therapist might have called me. This chink in Mira’s professional armor was welcome for what it finally revealed about her – in spite of the calm, unreadable demeanor, she might be just as flawed as the rest of us. When it comes to the actual therapy sessions, Brownrigg uses shifts in point-of-view to great advantage, lifting what could be the hackneyed therapy scene into the realm of unique.

For more of this review, see the November 2008 issue of Open Letters here:
http://openlettersmonthly.com/issue/nov08-sylvia-brownrigg-karen-vanuska/ ( )
  kvanuska | Oct 31, 2008 |
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'The Delivery Room' is a story about people, about life and death, about relationships, regrets and reconcilations - and about the therapist's couch. Originally published: 2006.

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