The Facts of Life is a beautifully drawn, funny and sometimes painful exploration of what it takes to be a woman, and a mother – or not.
In 1970s Northeast England, best friends Polly and April are sitting up a tree, whispering about periods and swapping their hazy knowledge of the facts of life. They both expect to have families one day – it’s the normal script to follow, isn’t it? But, as they grow up, education and career become important, too, and they believe that they can have it all.
When, some years later, Polly settles with Jack, her career has taken off and she feels torn over whether or not to try for a baby. Has she left it too late? Did she have any control over that choice? They go ahead, but after repeated miscarriage and chronic illness take their toll, Polly must confront what family means in a society where ‘family’ usually means ‘children’.
Editor’s Choice, The Bookseller5 December 2016
I’d like to highlight Paula Knight’s wonderful graphic memoir The Facts of Life, a sensitive comforting gift for any woman who has not chosen, or has not been able to choose the path of parenthood.
From the publisher of last year’s wonderful Hole in the Heart, a funny, affecting and highly poignant graphic memoir of what it takes to be a mother… and what it takes not to be one, in this semiautobiographical tale which spans the late 1960s to the present day, and tells of Polly and Jack’s quest for a ‘family’. In this Mother’s Day month, it’s rather wonderful to have an alternative and comforting book gift or self-purchase at the ready for those who have experienced miscarriage, are unable to have children, or who have decided not to have them
Aminatta Forna4 November 2016
In some ways motherhood has changed immeasurably, from contraception, to technological advances, through to same-sex marriage, all of these have wrought their influence. Yet despite these shifts, in other ways motherhood, the institution, the way it dominates the lives of women, has barely changed. We seem to still say, even if women can now make choices around when and how to give birth, still all must be mother. In her moving and sympathetic book, Paula Knight charts the emotional cost of the pursuit of motherhood and thoughtfully challenges the societal notion that to live a life without children is to live a lesser life. My favourite quote of the whole book was, perhaps, ‘not childless or child free, just me.’
Arri Coomarasamy, Professor of Gynaecology, University of Birmingham4 October 2016
I am moved by your book. I have no doubt that the story of your journey will have an intensely personal resonance to many – many who are perhaps suffering in silence. Beyond suffering, however, there is hope. This is a message that many women and couples in the throes of pregnancy loss need to hear. At a time when very little makes sense, your book will give comfort and hope.
Her delicate, highly-realised style brings an unsettling edge to the story and the imagery, catching you off-guard at times. Her comic pages carry that same sense of careful decision-making. Each page is an object lesson in how to tell a difficult and complicated story concisely.