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Mothers of Sparta

A Memoir in Pieces

by Dawn Davies

Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies X
Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2018, 272 pages
    Jan 29, 2019, 272 pages

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There are currently 29 member reviews
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  • Linda V. (Independence, KY)

    Not sure....
    While I enjoyed some portions of Mothers of Sparta, I felt the chapters were not sequential or made sense in their order. I understand the concept of the flawed mom but sometimes I felt little to no pity based on her not taking responsibility for her decisions.
    Her writing, however, was excellent with great flow and description and humor...sometimes macabre (i.e. pet fatalities). The title is not revealed until almost the very end and this is truly where Ms. Davies shines in her writing, her honesty and provocative thinking. she is a fierce mother and those chapters really spoke to me as I knew the passion and ferocity of protecting one's child.
    I would have preferred the latter part of the book to be developed more than the first part which felt like a lot of complaining. The Men I Would Have Slept With chapter...meh...too long (no pun) and overplayed.
  • Alissa C. (Woodstown, NJ)

    Still Not Sure How I Feel
    Dawn Davies' memoir is one I feel I'll remember for awhile. There were so many beautiful things to like about this book, her writing style, some evocative and poetic language- the opening scene, for instance, where she describes her daughters swimming. Gorgeous. But then there are so many other harsh and biting scenes, so much of life's ugliness seemingly fixed into one life- it's heartbreaking and painful, and sad because it's true. Her passages comparing the lives and choices of spartan mothers with her own and the issues with her son were truly horrific. Davies is so real and honest, painfully so, in her admission and style that you as the reader feel physically there, in her head, as millions of thoughts, good and bad, are considered. She doesn't shield you, and doesn't shy away from verbalizing her fears and thoughts.
    I'm torn, though, as to whether I enjoyed this book- as I said, parts were wonderful, parts were painful, but overall it felt so chaotic as a book, chapters ranging from early pregnancy stories, to who she'd sleep with, to soccer games, to dealing with a child predator, and each change was a jarring shift. Perhaps that's exactly how you're expected to feel, I don't know. It's interesting that the title includes "a memoir in pieces," because that's just what it is- pieces of life that make up her life. I'm still dealing with this book, thinking it over, and might be for awhile, bu a overall, it was a very interesting read.
  • Lee M. (Creve Coeur, MO)

    Also included...
    Two books written as one. Fine author with a nack for neat descriptions and a flair for humor. The chapters do not follow in chronological order but are snippets from a full life, be it single, as a single mother or as a family. Some sections I heartily recommend but I have reservations about others but worth the time spent reading.
  • Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)

    Pieces of a Life
    These essays put into book form make a loose memoir of this woman's life. I have not read anything as brutally honest as this. I laughed out loud, cried, and recognized some of the pain and could not put it down. It is an amazingly laid-bare tale. The essay in the middle re: the men is silly and funny, some folk will think it doesn't belong but I think it does! Her second husband deserves that essay alone. I so hope that her life somehow evens out. I will be passing this along to friends and relatives. Book groups could really have a great time with this one.
  • Kathy (ME)

    Eclectic Essays
    The book jacket for Dawn Davies' essays led me to believe this would be a series of essays about an angst-filled and reluctant mother, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a set of eclectic personal essays that range in topics and tone. The essays are not necessarily sequential and the end result is a kaleidoscopic view of Davies' life - she honestly reveals both heart-breaking and humorous stories of her life without all of the connective tissue that can sometimes bog down a typical memoir. The essays that resonate the most are those at the beginning and end of the collection where she honestly explores loss, death, illness, and parenting in trying circumstances.

    Many of the essays do explore parenting but I would not describe this as a book about motherhood, nor does Davies ever appear as the reluctant mother the book jacket implies; rather she is devoted and often easy to relate to. The essays in the middle of the collection are often funny but some felt like "filler" essays of the type you might read in a women's magazine. However, the biggest detractor to the book was Davies' habit of slipping into 2nd person perspective when relating personal stories, sometimes for whole essays and sometimes for short passages. Still, Davies' heart and talent shine throughout and this is a lovely collection.
  • Diane D. (Blairstown, NJ)

    Disturbing Life
    I have no idea what I was expecting, but I did find similarities, at times, in Dawn's life and well as those of my children & friends. Her aloneness (I guess that's not really a word, but it fits with what I read about her.) is different than other people I've known, but maybe you don't recognize that in others.

    Since we have grandchildren with Autism, Special Needs, etc., I was interested to read about that, but the ending really bothered me...and still does. I was glad to come to the end of the book.
  • Gail B. (Albuquerque, NM)

    Who are Mothers of Sparta? Dawn Davies, in a series of essays about motherhood, writes, eventually, about her own experience of refusing to be a Spartan Mom willing to sacrifice her own damaged son.

    Some chapters drew her as a self-indulgent hypochondriac with miserable pregnancies, colicky babies, smelly diapers, that nearly every mom experiences (unless she has a nanny). Some made me weep; some, howl with laughter. Poor girl, her life was a mess, but fortunately she managed to find a strong, kind husband who propped her up during the darkest hours.

    I do feel her editor would have served her better by rearranging the essays so that the reader could understand sooner why, or if, she was a Mother of Sparta, rather than just another young wife with too many babies, too close together, with no support from a selfish husband. I believe this would have made her a more sympathetic character. Although to me this book was flawed, I wish her well and look forward to more Dawn Davies.

Beyond the Book:
  Spartan Mothers

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