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Delicate Condition: Book summary and reviews of Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine

Delicate Condition

by Danielle Valentine

Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine X
Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine
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  • Published Aug 2023
    432 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

The Push meets The Silent Patient in a gripping thriller that follows a woman convinced a sinister figure is going to great lengths to make sure her pregnancy never happens―while the men in her life refuse to believe a word she says.

Anna Alcott is desperate to have a family. But as she tries to balance her increasingly public life as an indie actress with a grueling IVF journey, she starts to suspect that someone is going to great lengths to make sure that never happens. Crucial medicines are lost. Appointments get swapped without her knowledge. Cryptic warnings have her jumping at shadows. And despite everything she's gone through to make this pregnancy a reality, not even her husband is willing to believe that someone is playing twisted games with her.

Then her doctor tells her she's had a miscarriage―except Anna's convinced she's still pregnant despite everything the grave-faced men around her claim. She can feel the baby moving inside her, can see the strain it's taking on her weakening body. Vague warnings become direct threats as someone stalks her through the bleak ghost town of the snowy Hamptons. As her symptoms and sense of danger grow ever more horrifying, Anna can't help but wonder what exactly she's carrying inside of her…and why no one will listen when she says something is horribly, painfully wrong.

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Anna had been considering taking a break from work to focus on her health and IVF treatments when her career suddenly took off in a new way. Have you ever been in a position where one part of your life demanded more of you just as you had begun to shift your attention away? How did you handle juggling the competing priorities? What would you have done in Anna's situation?
  2. Many child-bearing people struggle with the question of fertility and undergo difficult and expensive IVF treatments in order to conceive. Do you or anyone you know have a similar story? If so, do you feel you were treated any differently than friends or family who did not experience the same kind of struggle?
  3. Delicate Condition is threaded through with ...
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Media Reviews

"A twisty, page-turner with unsettling details and crackling writing that's also a timely critique of sexism in modern medicine." ―Andrea Bartz, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Never Here

"A spooky, devour-in-one-sitting story that's guaranteed to have everyone talking."―Leah Konen, author of You Should Have Told Me

"A frightening, propulsive read brimming with brutal truths about motherhood, autonomy, and the everyday horror of not being believed. This twisty horror thriller will have you guessing until the staggering end." ―Rachel Harrison, National Bestselling author of Cackle and Such Sharp Teeth

"Beautifully written, unbearably tense, and deeply scary. A modern fairy tale that asks what we'd be willing to sacrifice for the thing we want most." ―Katie Gutierrez, National Bestselling author of More Than You'll Ever Know

"Both disturbing and unrelentingly captivating, Delicate Condition grabbed me and didn't let go until its final page." ―Darcy Coates, USA Today bestselling author

"What a thrilling, visceral read. So dark, and very fast paced." ―Heather Darwent, author of The Things We Do to Our Friends

"An absolute cracker of a read, one to be read by all women, everywhere. I could not put it down." ―Lisa Hall, author of Between You and Me

"Pitch black horror meets smart psychological thriller in this fantastically moreish debut. I devoured it, feeling simultaneously sick and thrilled. And that ending... just perfect." ―S.J.I. Holliday, author of The Deaths of December

"Fabulously original. A deeply unsettling read that plays on women's darkest fears of pregnancy." ―Gemma Rogers, author of The Secret

"A timely, terrifying, heartfelt thriller. I devoured it in one sitting." ―Chris Whitaker, bestselling author of We Begin at the End

"Both a scathing indictment of the treatment of women by medical professionals and a breathless thriller, Delicate Condition paints an unyielding and heart-wrenching portrait of pregnancy that reaches like a clawed hand inside your chest. I could not put it down." ―Katrina Monroe, author of Graveyard of Lost Children

"So many reader emotions, I didn't know who to trust; if anyone! Delicate Condition is a thriller, a horror, a mystery and it's lingering in my mind, an aftereffect of a chilling read!" ―J.M. Hewitt, author of The Life She Wants

"The book's length and madcap denouement diminish the visceral urgency of the first-person narrative, but Valentine successfully mines pregnancy's horrors for dramatic effect while condemning condescension toward, and ignorance of, women's struggles with fertility and childbearing. It adds up to a fiercely feminist millennial heir to Rosemary's Baby." —Publishers Weekly

This information about Delicate Condition was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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This book is a roller coaster of emotions and harrowing suspense. At times disturbing, at times happy and at times sad. It is a true page turner so very difficult to put down. It grips your emotions and curiosity every step of the way. A perfect summer read!!!


Chilling and Exciting
For those of you who haven’t experienced pregnancy, try to keep in mind that this is fiction…we hope!
Danielle Valentine has penned a RIVETING story of one woman’s journey through pregnancy. Millions of women give birth. Some were happy, some not.
Actress Anna Alcott wants a child more than anything. Even though she is successful – so much so she is up for an Academy Award.
She and her husband, Dex, have been trying for years, and Anna is 36. She feels the time is running out, so they decide to in-vitro fertilization.
Having known a few women who have undergone this procedure, and they have described it as “uncomfortable” at best, what Anna goes through certainly ranks as more than “uncomfortable.”
Afterward, things really start going awry. She forgets appointments, then someone breaks into their apartment.
She and Dex are overjoyed when she finally finds out that the IVF has been successful. But, instead of the blissful pregnancy women see on television and in movies, along with the kindly obstetrician, Anna’s experience begins to take on the form of a nightmare.
So much so that Anna begins to wonder if someone, somehow, is interfering with her body – does someone not want her to have this baby?
Enduring pain in prenatal yoga classes adds to Anna’s fear, and she questions everything going on in her body.
Not wanting to stay in their apartment after the break-in, Anna accepts her friend’s offer to stay in her beach home on the coast.
Then she has a miscarriage – or so she thought, as did her doctors. However, she later finds out she did not lose her baby. By this time, she is suspicious of her doctors and everything happening to her body.
While her husband tries to be supportive, he obviously thinks she is overreacting to all that is happening to her.
Anna is a woman who is always in control. She set her goals high in her acting career and met them. Now, she is not in control, and not knowing what is “normal” and what isn’t regarding her body changes, and food cravings, she views everything as a threat to the baby (?) growing inside her.
“A real page-turner” is a cliché we’ve seen hundreds of times. Still, Danielle’s novel will keep readers up at night, desperate to see the conclusion of Anna’s pregnancy journey.
But more than another novel about pregnancy, Danielle hits on a theme that many women have thought about and probably have not voiced. “Why won’t anyone listen to me? Why won’t my doctor, husband, or friends who’ve had a blissful pregnancy take me seriously?”
The United States, for all its ballyhooed healthcare system, has one of the highest pregnancy mortality rates in the world. Why is that? Are we, as women, supposed to line up to our obstetrician like the lame going to Lourdes and not question what is happening in our bodies if we feel something could be wrong?
I, like thousands of other women, had a normal pregnancy. But I feel I was lucky. I know women who have had miscarriages, including my daughter and myself. I’ve known women who had IVF, and while they mentioned how difficult it was, I had no idea.
I believe Danielle’s book will prompt women with any questions or worries about what is going on with their bodies to insist that their doctors LISTEN to them or find one that will.
In the meantime, immerse yourselves in this fantastic book!


Exhausting but very readable
First impression was “not another rosemary’s baby”. It was almost unbelievable for Allison to experience through her pregnancy all the horrible things that were happening to her body. One can’t help but question all of her friends associates and husband. The ending was not expected but compulsive writing makes this a real thriller.

Mardi S.

Delicate Condition
This book, Delicate Condition, has been called an "update to Rosemary's Baby" and I am old enough to remember seeing the original movie with Mia Farrell. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next scene. Terrifying! This book is very much like the old movie, except it is a terrifying read. As I got deeper into the book, I was trying to determine who was doing these things to this woman, or was she just nutty? Her friend's and spouse's support, was it real? The people she met along the way, were they friends or ??? Was she really driven to do some of the things she did?

This book seems like a long book, but it could be the subject matter. Her experiences going through IVF almost made me cry. I'm not sure how this book would do in a book club since it is so personal. I have to say that I felt such empathy for this woman and all she went through. Highly recommended.

Linda A. (Encino, CA)

She Had Me at the Prologue.
Danielle Valentine's novel, "Delicate Condition," is a harrowing tale told in first person by Anna Alcott, an actor who, after 20 years, is finally getting attention for her role in an Oscar-bound indie film. At the same time, though, as her biological clock ticks on, she's desperate to get pregnant. As the story opens, after much stress and pain of multiple failed IVF treatments, she and her husband Dex are trying again.

When Anna becomes pregnant, mysterious sinister forces converge--some realistic to this reader, some tinged with magic and superstition. Strange occurrences involving her husband, friends, her doctors, people at the fertility clinic, and strangers who pop up and disappear spark her paranoia. Symbols and talismans threaten like dark messengers coming to warn her. Or is she imagining it all?

Valentine is skilled at raising tension, burying clues and misdirects. Psychological perceptions and physical changes make Anna feel like she's crazy yet she's almost sure she knows what she's seen and felt. Anna's journey toward motherhood is, according to the Author's Note, "intended to be hyperbolic," although the author says her symptoms are rooted in "real things that happen to women's bodies." And indeed, Anna's strange behaviors, her fears of pregnancy and giving birth are well drawn. She doesn't know who to trust.

Valentine intersperses random short chapters recounting horrendous birthing stories of fictional women from the 18th to the 21st centuries. I found this distracting, although the author made a good attempt at the end to provide a payoff for their inclusion.

As a reader I vacillated between believing Anna's perceptions and then suspecting she might be an unreliable narrator. I needed to know: was she going off the rails or was she a victim? This is one reason I raced to the end of this (little-bit-too-long) 410-page book.

Arlene I. (Johnston, RI)

OMG…this book started off as a good on, and it became a mystery and...keep reading, a little bit of horror and finally a wonderful psychological thriller. I would give this book a 4.5. Bookclubs will have much to discuss about the contents of this novel.
I am going to try to stay away from the pilot other than to say it is about a woman, Anna, trying to get pregnant via IVF and what she experiences during her pregnancy. It was utterly fantastic. This book won't be for everyone but it surely delivers the suspense and twists and turns the book jacket suggests. The author spectacularly depicts the relationship women patients often have with their physicians, both male and female. How often women are dismissed by the medical professions. It is not an indictment for all physicians but as we all know many of us have experienced..."it is all in our heads syndrome" or "go home and take an aspirin".
Danielle Valentine's character development is seamless. Anna's character is melodramatic frustrating, and imaginative. Anna's husband, Dex, starts off as a determined, secretive man and progresses into someone a little less desirable. In this novel the characters show real emotions and the dialogue throughout is thoughtful and very on topic for today's audiences. The author hits pregnancy head first. Her author's note at the end of the novel is a must read.
There are many twist and turns in this novel but if you enjoy reading a book that takes you on a wild ride, this is definitely a book you absolutely must read.

...27 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Danielle Valentine

Danielle Valentine is a pseudonym for the young adult novelist Danielle Vega. Her work, which includes The Merciless series and How to Survive Your Murder, has been optioned for film and television by Lionsgate and Warner Bros, and has been translated into dozens of languages worldwide. Danielle lives outside of New York city with her husband, daughter, and two ornery cats. Delicate Condition is her first adult novel.

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