Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Baby Proof - Emily Giffin

Baby Proof is the story of Claudia and Ben, a couple who meet on the most perfect blind date. One of the attractions for Claudia is the fact that Ben does not want children - she has known since childhood that she does not want to have children, and therefore feels that it is meant to be. After a blissful few years of marriage, Ben confesses to wanting children. After discovering that they have no ability to compromise on this matter, Claudia issues an ultimatum of 'having children or having me'. Ben chooses the former.

Against the backdrop of this main storyline, we also meet Jess, Claudia's best friend, and Maura and Daphne, her two sisters. In each case Giffin deals sensitively with different aspects of children. The couple that desperately want children but find they're infertile. The couple who are staying together for the sake of their children. And the person who wonders about having a child in order to force a married man to make a commitment to her. I really enjoyed all of the background stories, and felt that these secondary characters were actually drawn more realistically than the two main characters.

My main complaint is that we actually see very little of Ben. Because the story is told from a first person perspective, during the split we stay very much with Claudia. We also cannot see Ben's thoughts, which means his extreme turnaround from wanting no children to suddenly wanting a family cannot be deciphered (although I guess we are then very much in Claudia's position!) Did he want children to start with and merely lied? Did it come along gradually? Was it seeing his best friend's become parents that convinced him he was ready? Because Ben was so one-dimensional it was hard to care about the fairytale ending.

And it was very much a fairytale ending! Not only do Ben and Claudia realise that they belong together, but Claudia believes that she will do anything to keep Ben - including having a child. This is not a complete turnaround, since she still isn't sure she wants a child, but she is most certainly compromising - something that she stated she could never do.

So, altogether more disappointing fare from the person who brought us two such excellent books as Something Borrowed and Something Blue.

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