Tag Archives: Emma Donoghue

Book Club Reflection: The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue

15 Jun

My book club met via Zoom to talk about our last book, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue. If you read my review, you’ll know I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, but I find those books make for the best book discussions.

Donoghue was born in Dublin and moved to England before settling in Ontario, Canada. Her stories settings reflect her Irish and English periods. Many of her other work has a strong subtext of LGBT characters in history, discussing how they lived and how their sexuality was repressed by society. We see this in the short story, How a Lady Dies, in this collection. We also wondered if the sisters in Salvage may have been lesbians.

Most of us liked the story Dido. I don’t think it’s by chance that it was one of the longer stories! There’s a 2013 movie based on the same historical figure called Belle. We all felt like Dido’s story could have been a full novel and it looks like a screenwriter agreed in their own way. We felt it spoke to us a bit more in light of the current #BlackLivesMatter movement in the USA. It was one of Donoghue’s stories that spoke to us a lot about current events despite the historical setting. Her uncle knew the discrimination and racism she would face outside their home but Dido was unaware.

Another story that seemed to speak to our times was Ballad, about the Black Plague. The way the people acted to prevent them from getting the plague reminded us of the current COVID crisis. The woman who boiled coins before she’d touch them spoke to us specifically. We may have thought that was overkill before, but it seems very logical now.

We had surprising little to say about the title story, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. We felt sorry for her. It was no wonder she got so sick with how the scheme was conducted. Having a rabbit shoved inside you is not the least bit sanitary! We found it odd as well that she’d give birth on command and for shows. That made it even more unbelievable.

The story Account was a fun one to read. It used a very unusual story format that we hadn’t seen before. Nonetheless, it built tension and had a complete arc to it. It was one of few we recommended to a reader who hadn’t finished the book.

Overall, these stories felt rather staccato. They would build tension and drama but didn’t always feel like a complete story. It wasn’t until you read the note that explained the broader context that the story made any sense. The librarian who sponsors our group said she could see the desire to write like this. In doing research as part of her job, she’d often come upon snippets of information and want to expand on it and learn more but didn’t have an outlet for it.

The collection did show a wide range of Donoghue. There was a large variety of stories she was able to tell and capture many different narrators’ voices well in the process. Many of her stories spoke about historical women and how they had no voice in history. Many had no power to change their stations but did what they could with the lot in life they’d been handed.

It looks like we’ll have one more Zoom meeting at least before we return to in-person meetings. I miss seeing these readers in person so I’ll look forward to the day we can all be together again.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Book Review: The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue (3/5)

11 Jun

I’m not a big fan of short story collections. This was a switch from a novel for my book club that happened last minute because of availability. I don’t think it’s something I would have picked otherwise. I’m writing this review before our group meets. Maybe they’ll change my mind. Though I find it hard to discuss short story collections.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue

Summary from Goodreads:

Emma Donoghue, celebrated author of Slammerskin, vividly animates hidden scraps of the past in this remarkable collection. An engraving of a woman giving birth to rabbits, a plague ballad, theological pamphlets, and an articulated skeleton are ingeniously fleshed out into rollicking tales. Whether she’s spinning the tale of a soldier tricked into marrying a dowdy spinster, or a Victorian surgeon’s attempts to “improve” women, Donoghue fills us with the sights and smells of the period as she summons the ghosts of ordinary people, bringing them to unforgettable life in fiction.

Some of these I enjoyed and others just frustrated me. Donoghue was inspired by odd bits of trivia she found while reading and some of the stories didn’t seem to have a plot, they just served to explain the odd thing Donoghue had read. Dido’s story had real depth to it. ‘Come, Gentle Night’ made no sense until you read the author’s note at the end. I didn’t like the stories where the note made the plot. In those cases, I felt like the note should have been at the beginning or the story should have been longer.

Donoghue drew rather believable people. None had too much of a story that I could sympathize with them or pass much judgment on how believable they were. There were a lot of women who suffered for their gender and the time period they lived in. This felt real to me. I think a lot of her focus is on how women were oppressed and she wanted to share a bit of their stories when history had ignored them.

Emma Donoghue
Image via Goodreads

‘Dido’ was my favorite story. Maybe it’s because of the racism discussions going on in my country, but this felt very relevant despite the setting. It reminded me of a movie I watched 10 years ago, Amazing Grace, about the abolition of the slave trade in England. I thought it was really powerful how Dido recognized her special status and used it to help someone else.

None of the characters was very relatable to me. Many of them were set in a very removed time period and I didn’t get enough to connect with them. The one that was more modern was an immortal witch, so that didn’t help.

None of the stories were disagreeable or I disliked them. Many just didn’t grab my attention and keep me interested for very long. The short story is not a format I enjoy and these seemed shorter than most. They shone a light on very overlooked parts of history and the notes at the end added a lot of depth and research to the stories. They just weren’t for me.

Women were written out of much of history. They’ve resigned themselves to footnotes in obscure texts like those Donoghue used to inspire her for many of these stories. The voices of women aren’t recorded, but logic would have you believe they were important. These women were written off, but they influenced many men and in some cases made a difference. I liked how Donoghue gave voices to the silenced. I think some could have been longer stories.

Writer’s Takeaway: This is not a genre for me and I’ve known that for quite a while. I don’t find short stories often give the reader enough about the subject to connect. Some of these stories felt like fragments of a larger story. Others felt complete. I think the difference was when Donoghue had more context than the reader. She had read some scrap of history that explained the split a little better. Without that context, the reader was lost. I think some of her history notes would have been better off at the beginning of the stories.

Enjoyable in small bursts, but not a genre for me. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

WWW Wednesday, 10-June-2020

10 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m making a push to finish Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich this week. I don’t think it will be too much of a problem; it should be on my ‘recently finished’ list next week. The only issue is that it hasn’t really inspired me to do any additional writing. Oh well, it was worth a try.
I needed a new ebook and found out I could give myself both the books I wanted to pick up next if I tried Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin as an ebook. I know it will be a slower read but I also see myself motivated to keep moving forward with it, so maybe it won’t take as long as other ebooks have.
I started a new audiobook that I’m really excited about. Stories of Elders by Veronica Kirin is one I’ve been wanting to read for a while and have been putting off. I know Kirin personally and am good friends with her brother. I heard her speak a while back about this book and I’m sorry I put it off as long as I did. She narrates the audiobook herself which is always fun.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue just in time for our book club meeting on Monday. I’m not a huge fan of short stories so I’m sure that affected my rating of it. I gave it Three out of Five Stars. I’ll have a review up tomorrow.
I also finished It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs on audio. I adored hearing the story in Jacobs voice through the audiobook. I’m not sure what project he has coming up next but I’m guessing that it will make for a great book that I’ll love to read. I posted a review yesterday and I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

I posted my review for The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai on Monday. This was a great read and I’m so glad I was talked into buying a copy by the signage at the story. It was a beautiful story. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I can’t wait to pick up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins as my next physical book. It’s time for some YA dystopian binging and this is the perfect book for it. I hope to have started it by next week.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

WWW Wednesday, 3-June-2020

3 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ll eventually finish Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich but it hasn’t been a priority for me this week. I’m pushing to get through my ebook before the book club meeting so I’ve given that more attention. Unfortunately, this one is easy to put down when I want to so it’s gotten a bit of rest this week.
I keep moving forward with The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue but I’m not sold on short story collections, especially for book club discussions. Some of these have been more interesting than others and I’m moving slowly through them. I hope I finish in time for our meeting!
I was able to start It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs and I’m loving it already. It’s great to have Jacobs read the audio because I’m getting a lot more out of his humor hearing it right from his mouth.

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai on Friday and just loved this book. I was put off by the length at first but I never wanted it to end. Yale was an amazing character and I adored following him through the story. I look forward to reviewing this one early next week so I can share what I loved about it. Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I think I’ll need a physical book next and I’m torn between two. I just got my copy of the newly released The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins and part of me wants to dive in immediately. Another part of me is calling for patience. The next book on my shelf is also one I’m excited about, Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long time, too, and it seems silly to skip past it now when I really need some sports-centric motivation. Anyone have a suggestion?


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

WWW Wednesday, 27-May-2020

27 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m making my way through Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich but it’s a slow go. I’m feeling a little more motivated to write, but not a lot like I’d hoped. I’ll see about picking up with my editing or maybe start something new. Something new might be freeing.
I’m making good progress with The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai and really enjoying it. It’s a long audiobook, but it’s nice to have a story last a while instead of flying through it. The plot has been great and I’m looking forward to getting further into this one.
I started an ebook of The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue. Our book club made a switch and this is our new book for June. I’m not very excited about it if I’m being honest. I don’t like short story collections very much. I’ll probably finish it without issue, but I’m not sure how much we can talk about.

Recently finished: I pushed to finish The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel so I could start my new ebook. It was a good story but I wasn’t as excited about it as I should have been. Stretching it out over so long dulled how I felt about it. I’ll plan to review it next week.

I posted my review for White Oleander by Janet Fitch on Thursday. I’m glad I read this again, it was a beautiful story. I’m hoping to find the movie soon and see if it’s similar and as enjoyable. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell and posted that review yesterday. This was fun and I’m so glad I read it. I’m excited for the third book and I hope the release date hasn’t been delayed.

Reading Next: I recently checked for an update to what’s available on my audiobook services and was excited to see that there’s a copy of It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs is one of my favorite non-fiction writers so I’m excited to read about this project. He narrates the audiobook himself so I’m getting excited about that, too.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

‘Room’ Movie Review

29 Jun

Movie Poster via IMP Awards

I read Room before I started this blog. It completely blew me away and I still think about how much I enjoyed it. It was a very tough subject to talk about and Donoghue did the whole thing in the voice of a small boy without demeaning anything about the situation. It was incredible. When I heard there was a movie being made, I was ecstatic. I was even more excited when my class ended and I finally had time to watch it. I cried alone in my apartment for a while.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Seeing how small Room was. Reading the dimensions and how many things were squeezed into that space was one thing, but seeing Ma and Jack in the small room and seeing how they made so much happen in that small space was incredible. That set was packed with all the things the book alluded to and it was crazy to see how efficiently Ma used all the space.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

No breastfeeding. This was a pretty big part of the book that was almost completely taking out of the movie. I remember Jack talking about ‘the left one’ and ‘the right one’ and it took me a while to realize he was still being breastfed. When I thought about it, it was really logical that Ma would keep breastfeeding him. Taking it out of the movie helped focus on the relationship without having to factor nudity into the rating. It was still an R rating in the US, though.

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Jack’s adjustment period to space. I found it fascinating in the book that Jack struggled with spatial relations. Because he’d only lived in Room, he knew where things were there but couldn’t translate distance outside of Room. He was running into things and falling down because he couldn’t judge distances. I thought this was a crazy concept and I wish it had made the movie.

The mall trip. This scene was a great add in the book and talked about the celebrity that victims of terrible tragedy can garner. Little Jack only cared that he was a hero to Ma but saw how famous he’d become. I wish it had made the movie.

Things That Changed Too Much

Honestly, it’s been too long since I read the book and I can’t think of anything major that sticks out. From my memory, it was a really good adaptation and I’m so glad I finally watched it.

I only wish I’d seen this sooner. It was a really good watch. Reader, have you seen the Room movie? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!