Literary Pregnancy

23 Apr

Maybe this is nothing. Or maybe I’m on to something. I’m not sure. Either way, I’d love if you could chime in and let me know if I’m going crazy.

I noticed this a while ago and brought it up to my husband who shrugged, brushed it off, and let me move on. But I brought it up to him again on Monday and he told me I might as well blog about it. So I decided to try listening to him for once.

Does anyone else feel like far too many fictional females get pregnant?

I’m usually not bothered by it, but I’m in the middle of reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn which includes three pregnancies. I’m also reading The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel which involves a pregnancy. I feel like I’m surrounded by literary fetuses and I think I’m overwhelmed.

I think there are a few reasons for this. Becoming a mother is a major life change and gives a lot of character development. Also, sex makes for good plotting and pregnancy can be a result of sex so books move in that direction. Pregnancy also builds tension because of unknown due dates or unknown fathers or pending abortions. This can lead to emotional turmoil, also good for tension. These are mostly dramatic results, there’s also happiness and joy but those don’t seem to be turning up in the books I’m reading.

I noticed this first when I was reading Armada by Ernest Cline. Two of the characters are intimate once and the woman gets pregnant. It seemed a bit too convenient for me. I get that it happens and it only takes one time, but I think it happens disproportionately in literature.

And that’s where my frustration lies. Pregnancy in books seems to defy the odds of nature. The amount of failed birth control and virginity-losing pregnancies in books seems to be a good bet in Vegas. It just doesn’t seem possible. I was so convinced Eilis in Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn was going to find herself pregnant that I was shocked when she didn’t.

Maybe I’m rambling. Maybe I’m off base. Maybe I’m spot on. What do you all think? Is the fertility of fictional woman off the charts? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Until next time, write on.

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38 Responses to “Literary Pregnancy”

  1. Holly April 23, 2020 at 10:17 AM #

    This is a really interesting point!! I’m going to pay attention when I read about pregnancies from now on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 11:54 AM #

      I realized another book I’m reading, The Starless Sea, has a pregnancy as well! It’s almost overwhelming. Happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. nickimags @ The Secret Library Book Blog April 23, 2020 at 10:46 AM #

    Great question! One character in the book I’m listening to at the moment, Daisy Jones & The Six, has been pregnant twice, the second time being with twins! Definitely going to keep a eye out for literary pregnancies now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 11:54 AM #

      I bet you start seeing them all over now haha. Happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Tessa Pulyer April 23, 2020 at 11:24 AM #

    I am wondering if it’s certain genres. I mostly read fantasy and mystery, and though pregnancies happen in both it really isn’t unusually often. That is interesting to ponder on, though. I will be noticing it more often now, I’m sure. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 11:55 AM #

      Maybe it’s a literary fiction problem. I read mostly from that genre so I wouldn’t be surprised. Happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. nanacathy2 April 23, 2020 at 11:59 AM #

    Can’t say I’ve noticed it myself, but maybe it depends on the type of book you read and the age of the characters. If the female characters are mainly between the age of 18 and 40 chances are babies will be present, or infertility will raise it’s head- it’s the natural way of the world! If you read Victorian novels, pregnancy won’t dare make an appearance!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 12:24 PM #

      Very true. I read mostly novels written in the past few decades so I hadn’t thought of that. I read mostly literary fiction and historical fiction so I think it will show up more there. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. abookishbalance April 23, 2020 at 12:34 PM #

    lol we are definitely not reading the same books, I think it might be a genre or age demographic thing though, I don’t come across too many pregnancies in the fantasy or classics or literary fiction that I read and hardly ever in YA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 2:20 PM #

      How odd. I come across it most in literary fiction. Three of the books I’m reading have a pregnancy. One is Fantasy and the other two are literary fiction. Maybe there’s a age difference? Happy reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jean @ Howling Frog April 23, 2020 at 12:41 PM #

    Maybe it’s your modern literary fiction tastes? I feel like the books I read feature a suspiciously low rate of pregnancy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 2:21 PM #

      I read a lot of historical fiction as well but it’s mostly written in the past ten years. What genres are you enjoying? Happy reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Chiara April 23, 2020 at 1:00 PM #

    I think it depends on the type of books you read. If I read a certain type of book I see a high amount of pregnancy than other types

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 2:21 PM #

      A great point. Not a lot of pregnancy in mysteries! Happy reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. overtheshill April 23, 2020 at 3:07 PM #

    OMG I’m with you. My current read has a pregnant character, and I swear they are everywhere! There are so many more “one time without protection that turns into pregnancy” scenarios in books than are actually true in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 8:14 PM #

      Thank you! Im glad I’m not the only one aware of overly fertile female characters. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. samfsm April 23, 2020 at 5:00 PM #

    Hmm, it may depend on the types of books you are reading, what age the books you are reading are geared towards, etc. I am currently reading the Witches of New York by Ami McKay and so far no pregnancies *fingers crossed.* However I did read a cozy by Daryl Wood Gerber called Sifting Through Clues recently that includes a side character who is pregnant, and I do suppose cozies and historical fiction as a whole have a higher pregnancy rate. Personally, I don’t think it helps the story, and it does seem to occur to “side” characters rather than mains, to not cramp their style I’m guessing. Kind of a bummer; I was looking forward to reading The Alice Network. Thanks for your thoughts on this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 8:16 PM #

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m still enjoying The Alice Network. I should finish it tomorrow. But there are just a lot of pregnancies- more than seems statistically probable. I do read books written more recently and mostly literary and historical fiction. That might be the root of the problem. Happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Rae Reads April 23, 2020 at 6:08 PM #

    You know, I never noticed until you mentioned it. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 8:16 PM #

      Now you can’t unsee it haha. Happy reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Ryan April 23, 2020 at 7:11 PM #

    I hadn’t really thought of that before, but at least half of the last 10 novels I’ve read had a character getting pregnant at some point. How about that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 23, 2020 at 8:17 PM #

      I’m so glad other people have experienced this, too. I feel a lot less crazy. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Davida Chazan April 24, 2020 at 7:49 AM #

    Interesting… to be frank, I never thought about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 24, 2020 at 8:29 AM #

      I wonder if you’ll notice it more now. Happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Davida Chazan April 24, 2020 at 9:00 AM #

        Not sure… I mean, now that you bring it up, I can point to several books that have this in them, but also many where the children are already there, and many where the women can’t get pregnant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sam April 24, 2020 at 9:25 AM #

        I think infertility is a similar theme because of the life changes and concerns it can draw. Not exactly the same, but in the same vein. Happy reading!

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Sharon Taylor April 24, 2020 at 8:57 AM #

    Gosh Sam, my Jane Austen characters have children without having sex. That we hear about. Even if you suspect sex like when Lydia Bennet ran off with George Wickham-no pregnancy! My mystery characters have good birth control or past menopause like Miss Marple….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 24, 2020 at 9:24 AM #

      A lot of virgin births going around? Haha. Gotta love it. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. flix and chill April 27, 2020 at 7:33 AM #

    Birth control fails on a regular basis got pregnant 3 times on the stuff. You forget one pill you up the duff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 27, 2020 at 9:32 AM #

      True, it can happen. I just think the likelihood is much higher for literary characters than it is in real life. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Janet MacLeod Trotter April 27, 2020 at 12:49 PM #

    I often depict pregnancies in my historical fiction novels – all part of the rich tapestry of human drama!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 27, 2020 at 1:55 PM #

      To be sure! It can be a very dramatic and turbulent time which makes for exciting narratives. As long as it’s not overdone. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. angelicreader April 27, 2020 at 12:51 PM #

    Nope… I’m right there with you. I feel like sometimes its used a bit like a crutch, in stead of coming up with a different twist lets just make the MC pregnant. It’s actually one of my pet peeves. Just like the fact that most movies / tv series coming out are MOSTLY based on books because the movie and tv industry isn’t capable of coming up with original ideas of their own.. Thanks for your rant. Appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam May 2, 2020 at 2:18 PM #

      Yes! I feel the same way. If you can’t come up with a reason for a female character to mature and change, might as well give her a baby to make it happen. I have mixed feelings about media based on books. In some instances, I hope that it helps the writer so they can continue to create. It also makes me want to avoid the TV show/movie until I’ve read the book and I know that will not happen for months, haha. Happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  17. MrsDMVH April 28, 2020 at 10:44 AM #

    The last book I read had pregnancies, but it was a whole premise of the book, with post partum depression. I can’t say I’ve noticed it that much, but I usually read a lot of thrillers, not big in those storylines!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam April 28, 2020 at 11:35 AM #

      No, it seems to appear more in literary fiction. I think that’s my problem. I’ve read books where the pregnancy is the premise as well. Heck, I wrote one. Happy reading!

      Liked by 2 people

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. Book Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (4/5) | Taking on a World of Words - April 28, 2020

    […] once. My biggest issue with this book is how many pregnant women there were! I wrote a post about literary pregnancies that this book triggered. Charlie’s I understood, another made sense (trying to avoid […]

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