So much of motherhood is acting…

Word count: 282 words

Reading time: About 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. Today’s comes from Emma Donoghue.

The novel Room by Emma Donoghue, is the kind of jaw-dropping, fantastical tale that propels readers into a white hot reading fury. I picked the book up and couldn’t put it down for the two days it took me to devour it. The story of a mother who has been kidnapped, held in an 11 x 11 room and repeatedly raped is told by her five-year-old son, who has never seen the outside of this room. Although the plot sounds horrific, the story is gently and lovingly revealed and, in many surprising ways, is quite charming.

Donoghue’s writing skill amazes me. Although I’m not normally a fan of short stories, on the strength of Room, I was willing to dip into Astray, her collection of short stories inspired by newspaper articles from the last four centuries. Another winner! Unusually, for me, I read every story. The book examines the ways people’s lives can take unexpected turns and each chapter concludes with a brief meditation on the real-life source that inspired it.

I can’t remember which story gave me my sentence of the week, but perhaps it was the one about the woman in Victorian England who supports herself and her child through prostitution until her younger brother (aided by Charles Dickens — really!) comes up with another option. Here is the sentence:

So much of motherhood is acting.

For me, the mother of triplets, those six words capture a lifetime of truth.

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