Good Reading : March 2015
‘Before I read the book I assumed that when the women were under the psychosis that they hated the child and wanted it out of their lives. But it wasn’t like that at all. They loved the child and they thought harming the child or themselves was the best thing they could do for their baby. It’s a twisted and incredibly scary disorder.’ As the insidious condition takes hold, smothering Catriona’s sanity with violent thoughts and hallucinations of dark figures lurking in the corners of her house, another couple, Diana and Liam, are watching their dreams come true. Diana’s experience is the inverse story to that of Catriona. While Catriona and James donate their embryos, Diana and Liam decide to adopt one, disregarding the tenets of Diana’s Catholicism, which forbids any for m of artificial conception. Diana finds herself perfectly suited to pregnancy and motherhood; the love she feels for her baby, Noah, is beyond anything she thought she was capable of. She doesn’t even mind the tension between herself and her stand-offish husband anymore; as long as she has Noah, she’s happy. But she doesn’t have him for long. On an outing to the super market, she checks her pram after a fleeting slip of concentration, and Noah is gone. Stolen. Any mother’s worst nightmare. ‘I think it was easier to write this novel because I’m not a mother,’ Amanda explains. ‘I’m not sure I would have been able to write it if I were. It was incredibly emotional. There were some scenes that made me cry as I was writing them. But others made me feel like a sociopath.’ Claiming Noah doesn’t shy away from the intensity of these two women’s disastrous experiences of motherhood, which is what makes the novel a thrilling and morally fascinating read. Amanda recalls an early draft that she had sent out to some of her friends who were on maternity leave and were car ing for their newborns. She tentatively warned them about some of the darker happenings in the novel, but it didn’t save some of them from being completely traumatised. ‘One of my friends, for weeks afterwards, would be checking under the wrap of pram to make sure her daughter was still there!’ Amanda laughs. ‘Maybe we should put a warning sticker on the front that says: “Beware, New Mother”!’ Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp is published by Simon & Schuster, rrp $29.99.