The Nursery by Szilvia Molnar

Published: March 21, 2023


Genre: Women’s Literary Fiction

Pages: 208

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Szilvia Molnar is the foreign rights director at a New York-based literary agency, and author of a chapbook called Soft Split. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Lit Hub, Triangle House Review, Two Serious Ladies, The Buenos Aires Review, and Neue Rundschau. Szilvia is from Budapest and was raised in Sweden. She lives in Austin, Texas.

There is the before and the after. Withering in the maternal prison of her apartment, a new mother finds herself spiraling into a state of complete disaffection. As a translator, she is usually happy to spend her days as the invisible interpreter. But now home alone with her newborn, she is ill at ease with this state of perpetual giving, carrying, feeding. The instinct to keep her baby safe conflicts with the intrusive thoughts of causing the baby harm, and she struggles to reclaim her identity just as it seems to dissolve from underneath her.

Feeling isolated from her supportive but ineffectual husband, she strikes up a tentative friendship with her ailing upstairs neighbour, Peter, who hushes the baby with his oxygen tank in tow. But they are both running out of time; something is soon to crack. Joyful early days of her pregnancy mingle with the anxious arrival of the baby, and culminate in a painful confrontation – mostly, between our narrator and herself. Striking and emotive, The Nursery documents the slow process of staggering back towards the simple pleasures of life and reentering the world after post-partum depression.

“I want you as much as I fear you.”

New parents struggle to find the balance of expanding to a family of three. Being a mother is hard, and it’s a challenge from the start. Late nights, household chores, and a screaming infant don’t help. Feeling lost in this new role and feeling inadequate makes things more difficult.

This was a different book. I think this novel is geared toward people who have had children, so I believe I miss several strong points.

But the writing does make you feel the chaotic, nervous energy of exhaustion and feeling lost. It makes you look at giving birth in a new way.

With vivid descriptions, fantasies, and a never-ending hunger, this book drags you in and forces you to witness the miracle of child-rearing.

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