review, U.S.

The End of Miracles by Monica Starkman

end of miraclesNext up in my heavy-themed reading is The End of Miracles by Monica Starkman. It feels a bit like a case history as novel. Starkman is a psychiatrist who studied phantom pregnancies, and this book deals with that subject in part. The story centers on Margo, in the midst of fertility treatments, who requires psychiatric care. The narrative arc is the arc of her mental health, and it’s fascinating and enlightening and incredibly sad in parts. This book is full of expertise.

It’s refreshing to read a book that’s not about someone in publishing or the restaurant/catering world. Margo works in hospital administration, which is a step removed from being a patient, which she becomes throughout the book, and it’s handled interestingly– how to be on the two sides of the hospital.

A psychiatrist writing about a character is not something I’ve read often, if ever. She feels real, which is not what I feel when I read some women-in-crisis books. Also, I’m glad Starkman doesn’t do the overused-slight-epiphany twist that I’m tired of in lots of more literary novels. I was delighted by this book, despite the sadness of the story: it didn’t feel like a book I’ve read before.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.



7 thoughts on “The End of Miracles by Monica Starkman”

  1. Oh, this really does sound interesting, Rebecca! I find the human mind and human psychology really fascinating, so that got my attention right away. I’m glad you found it a solid read.

  2. Yes, this is a heavy theme. It is even difficult for me to comment on. When I was young (late teens and away at college) and my sister was even younger, she had what was called a false pregnancy. She was a teenage bride and they married because she was pregnant. (Supposedly confirmed by a doctor.) At the time I had no idea what she must have gone through. It hurts me even now to think that I was not more supportive. Her husband at the time continued to believe that she had experienced a miscarriage. Whatever the truth, it had to have been a very painful experience.

    It sounds like this book is more about the psychiatric care and afterwards than the false pregnancy, but it does sound like an interesting, insightful book.

  3. An interesting notice — many thanks. However:

    It’s refreshing to read a book that’s not about someone in publishing or the restaurant/catering world.

    I’ve read, y’know, really lots of books that aren’t about someone in publishing or the restaurant/catering world! I’m baffled by your comment. I’m also puzzled as to what you mean about the “overused-slight-epiphany twist that I’m tired of in lots of more literary novels.”

    Please believe I’m not being snippy. I’m genuinely asking for elucidation.

    1. Ack: the perils of dashing off posts a little too quickly. First, I should have said that when I read something that the publisher markets as women’s fiction, it’s rare to get a protagonist who doesn’t work in publishing or works in the food business somehow. And on the more literary fiction side of things, I have to come up with some concrete examples of my general feeling that not much happens in a particular book- not much besides the main character realizing he was clueless, for example. Let me think about it and check and see if I’ve kept a list of books that I decided not to blog about: that’s where I might be able to explain better.

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