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Review: The Misconceiver
Norm Goldman --  BookPleasures.com Norm Goldman -- BookPleasures.com
Montreal, QC
Saturday, November 19, 2022


Author: Lucy Ferriss

ISBN: 979-8-218-04271—4

Publisher: Wandering Aengus Press

What may have been seen as a dystopian destiny when Lucy Ferriss wrote The Misconceiver in the mid-1990s today appears much closer to reality with the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Although, with the results of the recent mid-term elections, it may not emerge as dreadful as predicted, if you advocate for the right to have an abortion.


At the novel's opening, Ferriss comments to her readers: "The fact that so much of the book may ring true today testifies to the adage that if you look ahead three decades with a worst-case scenario hypothesis, you may hit the mark. And that the time to change that future is now."

This deeply provocative, confrontational novel takes us to places we dare not go. To some genteel readers, it may indeed be unsettling. However, it performs the classical function of the novel, to raise profound questions and ask us, "what if," Roe vs. Wade is reversed?

Set in a prophetic future, Ferris uses lucid, poetic prose to create a distinctive character in Phoebe, the story's narrator. Phoebe assuredly does not shy away from expressing her often caustic reflections revealing as much about herself as it does about other people in her life.

Gradually, this well-crafted narrative weaves the threads of Phoebe's life together- a young woman who expresses an angry craving for something that no longer prevails. It is an ominous era when abortion is prohibited in all fifty states, amniocentesis is illegal, married women may not work, the worst punishment for rape is a paternity suit, and homosexuality is taboo and back in the closest.

In the kickoff chapter, Phoebe recounts how she performed her first abortion on her older sister, Marie, who was in her fifth month of pregnancy. Marie ran an underground abortion clinic and persuaded her fifteen-year-old sister to join her practice.

Marie preferred to keep it all in the family for fear that engaging a stranger would put her in peril of being revealed to the authorities. Her training to perform abortions came from her mother, who was a nurse.

Marie did not conceive of herself as an abortionist, but as a misconceiver, a term derived from the EUFIAM (Every Unwanted Fetus is a Misconception).

As the tale unfolds, we learn more about Phoebe's family. When she was eleven, her mother died when a grenade was hurled through the window of the abortion clinic where she worked.

We likewise learn that both her sister Marie and her brother are deceased. Her father has Alzheimer, and she has hired help to attend to him when she is at work.

We are also made aware that Phoebe does not perform misconceptions for the money, which she only charges three hundred dollars, but for her sense of commitment towards her sister's memory. And she vigorously believes in women's control over their bodies.

Thrown into the story is Phoebe's love affair with Arthur Levinsky, a surgeon who was the ex-boyfriend of her deceased brother's wife, Roxanne.

In addition, Phoebe has a niece, Crystal, the daughter of her brother Frank, who becomes embroiled in all kinds of transgressions, including becoming pregnant.

Other characters that involve Phoebe's world include her cousin Lloyd, who operates as her agent in sending pregnant women to the clinic, and Lydia, her supervisor at her day job, where she is involved with getting rid of viruses from computers.

Phoebe's life is turned upside down when she is apprehended with scant expectation of being released from prison. She is convinced that someone turned her in, but who is the wrongdoer?

She slips out of prison, goes underground, and goes after the woman whom she believes ratted on her. She hungers for Arthur, who may have been the one who sold her out to save his own skin, as he helped her gain the instruments to perform one of her misconceptions.

This chilling novel, sharply written with mastery and depth, is far from a hasty read. Take your time and reflect about it. Ferriss' writing makes the novel more authentic rather than less, and as you listen to the exchanges between the characters, you feel you are snooping on natural conversations.

In the opening pages, Ferriss informs us she has yet to update any details that occurred after she wrote the book. She further remarks, the primary objective that she tries to pass on is what transpires in a technologically advanced world where human rights retreat and we let the climate founder remain.

Follow here To Read Norm's Interview With Lucy Ferriss


 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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Name: Norm Goldman
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