GREAT WITH CHILD, Sonia Taitz's new novel (McWitty Press, 4/11) is both a satirical and serious look at a smart working woman,driven to succeed in a law firm. Women are accommodated but expected to think and act like men, a norm not a problem for feisty Abigail. For seven years, she's slaved to make partner and is about to receive her rewards, when she discovers she's pregnant after a brief encounter. Though the father's out of the picture, Abby's decided to have her baby. Despite her boss's undermining conviction that women lawyers just “disappear,” she will not be mommy-tracked!
But there's her huge belly and the trip and almost fall on the street, where she's helped by a handsome cavalier, who asks her to coffee. Oddly, he appears intensely attracted despite or maybe because of her belly? Tim's attentions are persistent and he cooks! While she appreciates romance, her hormones make her ravenous but not for sex. The strange idyll is interrupted, when her firm gives her an assignment in Grenada to investigate a plane crash lawsuit. She could turn it down in her last months, but not Abigail!
Showing her sexist mentor she's “partner -ready,” she flies down and gets to work, interviewing the local investigator and the plaintiff suing the firm's client. But no matter how professional she behaves, there is the ostensible fact of her pregnancy. The local investigator is astounded she flew in her condition, as is the plaintiff, a cantankerous old lady, who lost her leg in the crash. The leg's persuasive but did the old lady chase after the low-flying blonde model? Was she an inexperienced model or a spy?
It's a challenging case. Worse yet, the crazy woman seems to read Abigail like a book. She's had a madcap life and also doesn't like to compromise. Then there's the fact she's growing on Abigail, who has an obligation to make sure she loses her suit. Abigail returns to New York with her loose ends just in the nick of time, except it's not. She has her baby and quickly hires the ideal nanny.
Yet, when she returns early to her desk, it's empty! There is no work on it and none appears. Outsourced, ignored? Meantime, Tim wants a commitment. Was the missing father not so missing? In GREAT WITH CHILD, the balanced life is virgin territory. Women may love their men but whether wives, mothers, employees, or madcaps, how do they make a life?
The novel sends up the expectations of our world, business and personal, against the reality of how people live in a style Jane Austen would appreciate. The challenge of Taitz's character is up-front and personal, a big belly she can't ignore. This is the inverse of Laurie Colwin's “Happy All the Time.” Happiness isn't on Abby's list when ambition calls. It's the siren song that has her lashed to her mast. Undomestic, uninterested in the hum drum world of playgrounds, she discovers a small person.
Sonia Taitz's heart and a funny bone are in the right place. Expecting has never had so many meanings. Read for the fun of it.