New review: Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp

By Ekta R. Garg

August 10, 2016

Genre: Women’s fiction

Rated: Bordering on Bookmark it!

Two women find themselves at the heart of the question of parenthood when they engage in a battle for the right to a child. They will need to work through differences with their partners and their families as well as their own consciences before reaching a conclusion. Debut author Amanda Ortlepp offers readers a likeable and touching story in her first book Claiming Noah.

Catriona Sinclair has everything a woman could want: a successful career; a loving, supportive husband; and a lovely home in a thriving Australian city. If Catriona could point to one thing that might be lacking, it’s the fact that she and her husband, James, don’t have any children. But the matter of children is more complicated for Catriona than James. She’s not completely sure she wants them.

Still, she’s willing to try for James’s sake. When natural conception becomes difficult, Catriona and James pursue in vitro fertilization. After a difficult period of time Catriona finally becomes pregnant, but she doesn’t think she can handle more than one pregnancy. She and James decide to make the remaining embryos available for adoption.

Elsewhere in the city, Diana Simmons mourns the fact that she can’t conceive. She wants nothing more than to be a mother. Someone gives Diana the idea of embryo adoption, and she grabs hold of it. She convinces Liam, her husband, to agree to the in vitro procedure, and they go ahead with it despite social pressure against it.

The donation of the embryo eventually brings Catriona and Diana face to face, and they come to court to argue a sensitive matter: who is the rightful parent of a child? The person whose genetic material made the child’s existence possible, or the person raising that child? On first glance the answer seems easy to each of the women, but as they pursue the court case they come to understand one another’s position and feelings.

Author Amanda Ortlepp handles her subject matter with compassion and relative maturity. For a first-time novel, Claiming Noah will offer readers several points for careful consideration. The idea of embryo adoption presents a new twist on a story that travels down well-trodden paths.

Some of Ortlepp’s choices become predictable. Readers will most likely guess certain plot twists well in advance of them actually occurring. A few of the characters, too, come across more as checkmarks for types instead of original people.

They serve their purpose, however, as does the predictability. Even with the fulfillment of the expected, Ortlepp still surprises readers. Catriona’s struggle with motherhood, in particular, comes across as fresh and real. Those women who have experienced the same challenges as Catriona will definitely sympathize with her plight, and any woman who has given birth can identify with Catriona’s misgivings.

Ortlepp allows her characters to move through the climax of their story with the utmost of dignity and grace. For this and the tenderness she shows this worthy effort, Claiming Noah Borders on Bookmarking it.

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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