Surrogate by Tracy Crisp is a powerful, beautifully written novel about two women from different generations and their experiences with family, personal relationships and motherhood. Set in Adelaide in the present and past, it follows the story of Rachael Carter, a young nurse who agrees to house-sit for a colleague, Dr Cate O’Reilly, and then becomes deeply involved in Cate’s quest to become a mother. It also tells the story of Mary Bowen, a young woman who finds herself pregnant after her boyfriend heads off to the Vietnam War and is forced to give her baby up for adoption.
Two stories, two women and two generations entwine in Surrogate and as the story develops the reader learns of a connection between Rachael and Mary. Surrogate was a quick read for me as it’s quite short but I wouldn’t say it was an easy read as the sensitive subject matter of infertility, adoption and surrogacy is quite emotional to read about.
Surrogate is written in a very sparse way and the author doesn’t waste a single word. I felt as though I was held at arm’s length at times. The character Rachael doesn’t reveal a lot, even in her internal dialogue, so at times I didn’t really know why she was doing what she was doing. But I think this can often by the case in a work of literary fiction. As a reader I had to fill in the blanks.
Verdict: A quietly powerful story.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – explores motherhood and adoption.
The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns – explores infertility, egg donation and motherhood.
Thank you to Wakefield Press for sending me a copy of Surrogate: A Novel for in exchange for an honest review.