The Growing Season by Helen Sedgwick

Several months ago I had the most incredible response to a Twitter request for feminist dystopian novels to read as research ahead of writing my own idea for my MA Creative Writing dissertation. I sifted through and plucked out the ones which most complemented my own proposal and The Growing Season was one of them.

One of the things that I loved most about this novel is the borderline dystopic/utopic idea. The idea of a baby being grown in a pouch; the danger and trials of pregnancy and labour removed, the ability to share the bonding experience of ‘pregnancy’ as a couple sounds idyllic. And the novel explores the way in which the technology has revolutionised society and the way in which it has been greeted with such open arms. In all honesty, as much as I went into the novel with my suspicions and feeling that it would never be an option I would have considered…..the benefits appealed and I could see why the natural birth experience had all but been forfeited. The technology placed men and women on equal footing, almost entirely removing that most key biological difference.

I was sold, I was on board. And then came the revelation that not all was as it seemed.

As Eva and Piotr reconnect and investigate FullLife and events unravel, I actually felt a little ashamed of myself. That I would be so willing to forgo the amazing things my body has proven itself capable of, in the place of a technology. But then, isn’t that what this imagined society has done? Accepted a technology ahead of nature. Tried to cheat the natural order? It’s such an incredibly realistic and compelling idea, and I think it also speaks volumes of how supressed women feel in their roles as mothers in order to want to, essentially, give it up and go against nature.

There is so much within this novel that has resonated with me as a woman, and as a mother, it is such a thought-provoking and relevant read. It really left me with the overwhelming feeling that I should savour being a woman. Whoever recommended this to me, thank you so much!!

Synopsis

Now anyone can have a baby. With FullLife’s safe and affordable healthcare plan, the brave new world is here.

Without the pouch, Eva might not have been born. And yet she has sacrificed her career, and maybe even her relationship, campaigning against FullLife’s biotech baby pouches. Despite her efforts, everyone prefers a world where women are liberated from danger and constraint and all can share the joy of childbearing. Perhaps FullLife has helped transform society for the better? But just as Eva decides to accept this, she discovers that something strange is happening at FullLife.

Piotr hasn’t seen Eva in years. Not since their life together dissolved in tragedy. But Piotr’s a journalist who has also uncovered something sinister about FullLife. What drove him and Eva apart may just bring them back together, as they search for the truth behind FullLife’s closed doors, and face a truth of their own.

A beautiful story about family, loss and what our future might hold, The Growing Season is an original and powerful novel by a rising talent.

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