BookBrowse Reviews Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies

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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
    Paperback:
    Jan 2019, 272 pages

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30 members reviewed Mothers of Sparta for First Impressions, rating it an impressive average of 4.5 out of 5

What it's about:
The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women are born mothers. Some achieve motherhood. Others have motherhood thrust upon them" (Linda J). Dawn Davies is a tough woman with a tender underside who paints a picture of her life through a series of autobiographical essays. The early chapters portray her great love and appreciation for the natural world around her juxtaposed with the heartbreak of frequent family uprooting. In later chapters she lays bare some of her most difficult times in beautifully written prose. She exposes small glimpses of her childhood, marriage, motherhood, divorce, and debilitating illness with honesty and quiet humor (Nancy L).

First Impression reviewers overwhelmingly approved of the book.
Memoirs are my preferred genre and this one is at the top of my list of favorites (Emily C). I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a non-fiction book so much; I absolutely loved this book (Sally H). I couldn't put it down once I started (Kay D).

Reviewers applauded Davies' writing:
The author is a memoirist with a remarkable voice (Nancy L). Her writing style was captivating and drew me in to each chapter. I loved the way they held up as separate pieces, yet tied together to create an epic story; Davies has a gift for expressing herself (Kay D). She has such a sense of language that I was just left with my mouth open sometimes, wondering how she did it (Claire M).

The essays elicited wide range of emotions:
This is the first book I have read that both wrenches your gut with heartbreak and makes you laugh out loud at the humor at the same time (Lynne B). I laughed, I cried, and I was sympathetic to the pain and angst that Dawn Davies experienced throughout her life (Suzanne G). The range of emotions makes this book a worthwhile read for those of us who often think our joys, pains and victories are not shared by another (Liz D).

The author's candor was mentioned by nearly every reader:
Davies is irreverent, hilarious, unfailingly candid, and brutally honest in her descriptions of events in her life (Sally H). This memoir was not sugarcoated and it described life with honesty - the good, the bad, and the ugly (Miller W). The author makes herself totally vulnerable and opens up her life for all to see. It's deep, moving, brave stuff and I salute her for living her life with grace and courage (Monica P).

The book especially resonate with those who are mothers:
Mothers of Sparta appealed to me in particular due to my state in life--thirty something married mom. Any mom can relate and will appreciate this book (Miller W). Davies tells us we are not alone in our struggle to be great mothers (Liz D). I adore women who can look at their lives with clear eyes and a sense of humor even in the darkest moments and convey that sense of "me too, I get it, you're not alone" to their readers. Davies did that to perfection (Elizabeth F).

Some readers did not like the book's tone, primarily because of its shifting voice and its non-chronological chapters:
I understand the concept of the flawed mom but sometimes I felt little to no pity based on the author not taking responsibility for her decisions. 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 (Linda P). Some funny incidents are included, but overall the tone is of despair, anger, loneliness and frustration. Davies writes in both the first and second person, and for me this was a problem (Ruthie A). The book is not written in chronological order, and can be hard to follow at times (Linda J). Overall it felt chaotic (Alissa C).

However, most would recommend Mothers of Sparta to a broad audience:
I truly enjoyed reading this book and would certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys memoirs of the not-rich and not-famous. It would be a great discussion selection for a reading group (Beth C). I believe it would raise some interesting points for conversation on motherhood, luck and the "payback fairy" (Carol F). Fans of Nora Ephron and Anne LaMott might recognize some of their traits in Davies' writing (Linda J). Definitely a book I will recommend to anyone (Diane T).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2018, and has been updated for the January 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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