BOOK REVIEW: Coming to Birth.March 30, 2020
Title: Coming to Birth.
Author: Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye.
Publisher: East Africa Educational publishers Ltd.
Year published: 2005.
Reviewer: Annah Kwamboka Achuka.
Availability: All bookshops.
Coming to Birth is a book written by Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye who has clearly distinguished herself as a writer of novels. The story evolves around major characters; Martin who is a young man working and staying in Nairobi,Paulina who is his wife from the village, their neighbours and others. The title is significant to the story,that is,this young couple suffers two miscarriages in different life situations. This greatly discourages them and brings worry between them. Paulina decides to stay in the village (Gem) and work on their farm and cattlles while Martin remains in Nairobi and come home once in December holiday.
Due to distance and need to have a baby to save her marriage, Paulina concieves out of the wedlock with her old time brethren man,Simon, in Kisumu. She bears a son who dies at the age of two. Meanwhile Martin tries his luck with two ladies at different times to no success. Due to this the marriage breaks and each parts and lead their lives differently. They later reunite when Paulina works for Mr. and Mrs. M in Nairobi,at their advanced age Paulina manages to conceive once again.
The story is set towards the end of the pre-colonial period and most of it at independence. It takes place in Nairobi where Martin stays,Kisumu where Paulina studies and works and their home in Gem and it occurs within two to three decades time.
It alludes several matters including family, change of times, colonialism,pain and suffering, religion in modernity, tradition, love, death, political reigns, gender differences, tribal differences, street life, women empowerment among more others. Marjorie points out more on family and Change because they carry the intention she has,thank is,the differences that are there in traditional times and modernity. The other themes also play a role in building the intention and the ongoing of the storyline.
Marjorie has employed different styles to make her work presentable and successful. She uses descriptions, imagery,local dialects,irony,idiophones, rhetorical questions, dialogue, narration, story within a story and humour among others. She has uses them skillfully in conveying her intention and honestly each of them has played a very important role in the story.
I love the ending of the book. Despite the ups and downs that Paulina go through, especially the two miscarriages, the break up of her family,the death of Okeyo her lovely son and the death of her father,she does not close a chapter in her life. She moves on with her duties with much hope. Good enough,when they reunite with Martin, they are lucky she conceives once again. It’s such a hope to me and to any reader I suppose and a lesson that I shall never lose hope too fast,and it’s never late until you try.
I found Macgoye’s book very interesting, educative and entertaining. What I like most about this story is the way Oludhe delivers the females in the story especially Paulina. From a mere uneducated young village woman to a strong, enduring and experienced mature woman. She seems so determined to eat through the works of her hands,she survives alone without Martin and adapts to harsh and cruel life situations especially death. She becomes an epitome of women empowerment when she works for Mr and Mrs. M through the various activities she takes place in.
This is an influencial book that can help various people achieve many things on the matters it discusses. I also congratulate Macgoye because she has left no suspense and no questions remain unanswered.