Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
St Martin’s Press, 1st edition, 2006
Genre: chick lit, romance, pop lit, fiction lite
Synopsis & Review: Claudia never liked playing with dolls, and when she grew up, she knew that she didn’t want kids. Just as she was resigning herself to the possibility that she’d never meet a partner who felt the same, along came Ben. Ben, who prized his freedom as much as she did, who wanted to travel and eat out, and live the high life with a partner. Agreeing on a child-free relationship, Claudia and Ben were married and lived happily ever after. At least, until Ben saw his friends having babies all around them and decided that he wanted one, too.
Baby Proof was a turnaround for me in that I finally saw Emily Giffin fulfilling the promise hinted at in her earlier novels. She plays to her strengths in this one, documenting the complexities of relationships, and by tackling a difficult subject with honesty. The decision to remain child-free versus having children is a tough one, and one that is often trivialized in popular culture, which assumes that all people want and are fulfilled by children. Claudia is not a child-hating ogre by any means, but is likable and compassionate, and a loving, affectionate aunt. She’s also a supportive sister as her two sisters deal with infertility and a marriage that exists solely for the sake of the children. Giffin respectfully and movingly addresses the many layers of wanting and not wanting to procreate, as well as the difficulties in suddenly discovering an irreconcilable difference in a spouse. Because after all, people do change and are always changing, no matter how much we think we’ll always be the same. Even a marriage might not last some changes, be they trivial or tumultuous. And while I was enraged at the ending I foresaw, the anger did not last; Giffin finally surprised me by staying true to both Claudia and Ben–and their marriage.
FPPT strikes again, but Giffin’s skillz have improved, and the quality of work serves to temper some of the irritation this can instill in me. Also far less branding, which gives the novel a fresher, more genuine feel. Still a beach read, but a good one.
Cover: Another in the pastel line, this one is pale yellow, with two baby bootie charms for the oo in “proof.” What color will the next one be, lavender or green?
I sit at my desk for a long time, my back tot he computer, ignoring the ding of new emails, likely from Richard, and wondering whether Ben would have left if I had been diagnosed with a serious illness. If I only had a few years left to live. Or, if I couldn’t conceive–as opposed to being unwilling to do so. I can’t imagine Ben leaving me under any of those circumstances. So how could he leave me simply because I didn’t want kids? I wasn’t throwing hardship at him; I just wanted things to stay the same. Couldn’t my husband just love me enough to stay? Was that really so much to ask?
20 July – 21 July