BOOK CLUB: Claiming Noah

Author: Amanda Ortlepp
ISBN: 9781925030600
RRP: $29.99

Claiming Noah is a confronting book that is going to be hard reading for some. I found it to be touching and terrifying, heartbreaking and compassionate. This is one that I feel will touch a nerve of every parent but I don’t think every parent would be able to read it.

Conception has become a very advanced science. It has been a long road to get to where we are today with IVF being a common tool to conception, if not a cheap one. We have come so far that infertile couples have another avenue open to them in that they can utilise embryo donation to become parents.

Ortlepp has taken this astounding science and applied it to a cast of characters that go from heartache to heartache in Claiming Noah, a gripping novel that will leave you with no choice but to question the what ifs and put yourself in their situation.

Catriona and James are desperate for children but the old fashioned method just wasn’t working for them so they embarked on the long and complicated process of IVF. With one embryo remaining they decide that regardless of the outcome of their third implantation they won’t be using it. After exploring their options, albeit briefly, they decide embryo donation is the only option for them; they understand the heartache of not being able to conceive naturally and want to try to ease that pain for another couple.

Diana and Liam are on the waiting list for an embryo after exploring their options and deciding they want the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. Quite quickly an embryo comes up and after expecting a lengthy wait they are thrilled. The fertility doctor likes to try and match embryos to prospective parents as closely as possible, he thinks it increases the chances of the embryo taking and it will certainly make life easier later in life for the child.

Catriona and James had a successful, though difficult, pregnancy and gave birth to Sebastian via emergency c-section after a labour that would be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Catriona suffered post natal depression that then escalated to psychosis and was hospitalised for the protection of both her and Sebastian.

Meanwhile Diana and Liam have also had a little baby boy, Noah, who is everything they could have imagined and he shares many physical traits with both Diana and Liam. At two months old Diana and Liam are faced with the unthinkable when Noah is kidnapped.

This book is definitely one that tugs the heart strings but there is also quite an element of mystery that helped keep me reading long after I should have been doing something else.

claiming noah

The characters are all well written and deeply flawed, not irredeemable by any means but very human and relatable. Claiming Noah is written from the perspective of both Diana and Catriona so we can really get inside their heads and understand what is driving them. The fathers in the story also play extremely important roles but because they aren’t telling the story we can’t completely understand their motivations.

I don’t want to go too deeply into the storyline because I don’t want to risk jading the experience for anyone who goes on to read this. I think it’s important to go into this one without too many preconceived ideas.

The story follows Catriona and Diana in alternating chapters, told in the third person and each chapter is dated so that we can follow the timeline of what’s going on with both families but there is a lot of overlap so quite often the beginning of a new chapter takes you back in time to look at the other woman’s life.

Beautifully written and beautifully paced Amanda Ortlepp has created a stunning debut that will leave you questioning your parenthood beliefs and deeply contemplating all the shades of grey. I love this book and think Ortlepp has done a fantastic job of coming up with a very unique storyline, it is certainly something I haven’t read before.

I would definitely recommend this book, to all parents present and future though perhaps not those looking into embryo donation in the near future. Ortlepp explored so many interesting aspects of people, relationships and perspectives. Situations aren’t always what they seem and some people are extremely good at showing themselves in the best light – which sometimes means they are far from who they claim to be.

A selection of our lucky readers will be reading Claiming Noah as part of the Beauty and Lace Book Club so I will be interested to see what they have to say about the book.

Please be advised that there may be spoilers contained in the comments below.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter.

Claiming Noah is Book #10 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.

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