The Birthing House
literary fiction, multicultural fiction, women's fiction, German history
The Birthing House is a novel of literary fiction about writing, memory and belonging. Themes of birth and becoming, trauma and time, are woven into a text in love with language. Deeply drawn characters struggle against powerful obstacles to their lives and identities as they make difficult choices to move forward.
The novel follows a woman’s journey of healing and discovery through her writing. It features explorations of heart, mind, and body, richly textured with friendships, memories, dreams, and layers of philosophy and history. Two timelines alternate, twenty years apart.
In 1980, after a recent miscarriage, Clare Muller arrives in the fairytale town of Marburg, Germany with her husband and six-year-old son. She faces the adventures and challenges of living in a different language and culture and eventually with a new pregnancy.
In 2000, she and her husband return as mid-career professors, following the sudden death of Clare’s beloved father. They live in a house that had once belonged to a midwife and had been the birthing house for many in the surrounding area. As the house releases the years of stories embedded in its walls, it becomes a home for Clare and a catalyst for her writing. Her grief fades, her world expands and a book is born.
This novel grew out of the author’s experience living in Marburg in the early 1980’s and again in 2001. It is in part a love story to this medieval town and its role in Germany’s moving from the trauma of the Nazi years to becoming a haven of diversity for immigrants, refugees, and the blind from around the world.
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