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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 2019, 272 pages


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There are currently 30 reader reviews for Mothers of Sparta
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Suzanne G. (Tucson, AZ)

First-rate Writing
I loved, loved, loved this book. I laughed, I cried, and I was sympathetic to the pain and angst that Dawn Davies had throughout her life. The love she had for her family was evident at every turn. This book was so honest that it is obvious that the author created a work of art with her elegant and well crafted writing. This is not only a memoir but also a look at a life that any woman might experience. There are countless reasons that a book club could gain much from a discussion of this story.
Monica P. (Cleves, OH)

Courageous book
Dawn Davies has a talent for writing so eloquently that you laugh when she laughs and hurt when she hurts. She makes herself totally vulnerable and opens up her life for all to see. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing her perspective on various parenting escapades and then I came to the chapter with the same title as the book. It's deep, moving, brave stuff and I salute her for living her life with grace and courage. Excellent read.
Nancy L. (Staunton, VA)

Pieces of a Life
"Mothers of Sparta A Memoir in Pieces" by Dawn Davies is a remarkable work. Davies is a tough woman with a tender underside who paints a picture of her life through a series of self portraits, or essays. The early essays portray a great love and appreciation for the natural word around her juxtaposed with the heartbreak of frequent family uprooting. In later essays, she lays bare some of her most difficult times in beautifully written prose. She exposes small glimpses of childhood, marriage, motherhood, divorce, and debilitating illness with honesty and quiet humor. Davies is a memoirist with a remarkable voice.
Beth C. (Sioux Falls, SD)

A Memoir in Pieces
Dawn Davies has put together an outstanding selection of vignettes from her life - the memoir in pieces, called "Mothers of Sparta." Only one of the pieces refers to the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta, but Davies compares and contrasts some of its methodology for raising warriors to her own very personal struggles raising an autistic son. Her writing feels honest and straightforward with well-turned phrases and true emotion. I truly enjoyed reading this book and would certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys memoirs of the not-rich and not-famous. I would be a great discussion selection for a reading group.
Liz D. (East Falmouth, MA)

The Mother of Sparta
The Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies is a series of thought provoking essays, stories of her life so far. These memories tell a story somewhat unique but important to her growing up to become a mother, wife and mother. Some are almost poetry in their language; others are gritty and sarcastic; still others disturbing. The range of emotions make this book a worthwhile read for those of us who often think our joys, pains and victories are not shared by another Dawn Davies tell us we are not alone in our struggle to be great mothers.
Ruthie A. (New York, NY)

The Struggle is Real
Mothers of Sparta is a series of essays that form a memoir. Dawn Davies offers glimpses into her life at various crucial moments. 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. Many times while reading I felt like I was listening to a very long "voice-over", the type offered on T.V shows such as Grey's Anatomy – and it became tiresome. Often Davies went off on tangents, some so long that I forgot what she had originally been writing about.

Some of the essays, most specifically the title story were brilliant; sharp, pointed and searing. Others seem to be composed of meandering thoughts going nowhere. I wish I had read them in intervals, reading more than one or two at a sitting diluted the whole. I also found that the cover blurb misrepresented the content – quotes like "Davies…couldn't care less about anyone's potty-training programs…" made it sound like a non-fiction version of "Where Did You Go Bernadette" or some other snarky mom writing – and it most definitely is not! Davies has dealt with many hardships while raising her children and none of it sounded like fun. Powerful essays, but best taken in small doses and with forewarning!
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.

Beyond the Book:
  Spartan Mothers

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