Originally published: 1 April 2021
Author: Susan Spindler
Published by: Virago
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 6-10 April 2021
THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A MOTHER’S LOVE…
Ruth Furnival is a successful television executive with a perfect life: a nice house in London, a lawyer husband and two grown-up daughters. But at 54, with an empty nest and the menopause behind her, she feels restless and dissatisfied.
After multiple rounds of failed IVF, her eldest daughter Lauren has been told that the only chance for her and her husband to have their own child is surrogacy. Overwhelmed by the expense, they have run out of options. So when Ruth discovers that, with the right dose of hormones, she could carry their baby, out of desperation they agree.
Buoyed up by her sense of purpose, Ruth’s life disintegrates around her as the pregnancy progresses: her husband moves out, her TV company is near bankruptcy and Lauren can’t contain her corrosive envy. Isolated and alone in the pregnancy, Ruth starts to unravel…
Surrogate was a fascinating yet uncomfortable read. When Ruth’s daughter Lauren, finds she is unable to have a child after many rounds of IVF and multiple miscarriages, Ruth wonders if she can be a surrogate for her and her husband Dan. Finding at 54 she is at the very upper age limit of being able to be a surrogate in the UK, her and Lauren rush to find a consultant who is willing to do the procedure, keeping it a secret from her husband fearing he would not allow it.
Isn’t it the ultimate gift to be able to have a child for someone else? Ruth understandably feels pretty good about herself but soon begins to resent being made to feel like nothing more than an incubator. As the book goes on, she starts to resent her daughter and the way she feels controlled by her. And I wondered what her motives were for wanting to help Lauren. She certainly seems to enjoy the effect the hormones has on her face and body, making her look younger. Lauren on the flip side feels inadequate for not being able to have a baby and although she is overjoyed that her mum is able to carry a baby for her she can’t help the nagging feeling that something could still got wrong.
Surrogate really intrigued me. Being not that far off in age to the main character Ruth, it made me consider my feelings about how I felt about surrogacy and if it was something I could do for someone. I enjoyed being pregnant and had no problems during my pregnancies and I’d like to think it would be something I could do. But I wouldn’t be able to guarantee that I would be able to hand the baby over at the end. Would it be easier or harder to still be a part of the babies life?
An utterly addictive read, I loved Surrogate. Full of not particularly pleasant characters, my feelings regularly switched between whom I thought was being unreasonable. An impressive debut that tackles an interesting topic that I have never read about before, this is highly recommended by me!
Thank you to Virago Books for my gifted copy.
About the author:
Susan Spindler is an award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker. She worked for the BBC on flagship series such as Horizon, Tomorrow’s World, and QED and went on to be become Deputy Director of Drama, Entertainment & Children’s Programmes. Surrogate is her first novel.