Book reviews

Sunday Telegraph - 21 August 2005

Vanessa Gorman has written a book that seeks to understand death - the death, in particular, of her baby daughter Layla, and in doing so gathers up so much about the meaning of life.

An easy writer with a lovely turn of phrase, Gorman opens with endearing humility:"I thought of calling this book Lucky Middle Class Woman Writes Sob Story"...yet understanding what solace is to be found in shared grief, Gorman is not merely preoccupied with her own suffering.

Armed with an inquiring mind and a spiritual sensibility, she is presented with the most damnable puzzle, a seemingly "senseless death", and she pours her heart and soul into making sense of it.
Every part of her journey is laid bare, and it is extremely personal. Her brave candour is to be applauded - to have another revealing their flaws so honestly gives the reader much to relate to...

Vastly more interesting are greater dramatic themes of modern relationships and dissonant personal goals, issues of delayed motherhood, the tricky question of whether a woman who desperately wants a baby should go it alone. To those who have lost or are losing a child, the book says "you will survive this". To other parents it is saying: "treasure your children".

In Layla’s Story, Gorman captures both the ecstasy and the agony, the exhilarating, affirming beauty of life and the howling pain of loss: life and death, two sides of the same coin, both just a flip away.

Lucy Clark, Sunday Telegraph, 21 August 2005



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