Trying to Follow the Muse While Domestic Life Calls

Cherise Wolas Michael Dickes THE RESURRECTION OF JOAN ASHBY By Cherise Wolas 534 pp. Flatiron Books. $27.99. There are the demands and joys of creating art … and then there are the demands and joys of being a parent. My artist-mother friends and I struggle to secure — and pay for — reliable child care so that we may do our strange, sacred work. Even then, the morass of domestic duties threatens to ooze under the doors of our studios and offices. For the eponymous heroine of Cherise Wolas’s ambitious, problematic debut novel, “The Resurrection of Joan Ashby,” the struggles with parenthood are more philosophical than practical. When she gets pregnant by accident, her new husband, an ocular surgeon named Martin Manning, is thrilled, even though he swore to her he would respect her wishes to never have children. By this time, Joan is 25 and the author of two best-selling, highly acclaimed story collections: “She did not want motherhood, had no underlying faith in her ability to negotiate the enormity of the obligation, had no interest in the supposed majesty of the experience.” And yet. She considers this crossroads as if she were a character in one of […]

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