I got sent a book to review last week. It was about the frustrations of trying to conceive (TTC) and I guess it was meant to be a witty, tongue-in-cheek easy-read for women who have actively TTCed, as opposed to those women who get pregnant after touching their partner's dirty jocks.
So I opened it up, expecting to find at least something I could relate to, when out fell the press release from the publisher, complete with happy smiling portrait of the author with child. What a surprise. In my search for knowledge - and I can attest that practically every IVFer is an expert researcher - I have racked up big dollars on my credit card buying all the books I can find on infertility and IVF. Almost without fail, stories of personal journeys tend to be accompanied by a back cover shot of a smiling toddler, or an epilogue of the author's final successful cycle.
In American-penned books, the tale sometimes ends with a successful adoption - something I have written about previously as being very rare in Australia - but more often than not, a surprise pregnancy or successful cycle sees a happy ending, thank you very much.
I even read one book, written by a bloke which I guess is why he got the publishing deal, that achieved pregnancy on the first IVF cycle. It makes the whole process sound so facile. I hope none of my friends or family have read that particular novel, lest they think I'm making it out to be a bigger deal than it really is.
In fact the only book on my shelf that doesn't have a happy ending is fiction but ironically, the most true-to-life as far as I am concerned. In Ben Elton's Inconceivable, the main characters TTC for ages, finally seek out IVF, fail, split up, she gets pregnant to another bloke, has a miscarriage, breaks up with him and then ends up with her original husband, sans child.
Maybe people don't enjoy reading sad stories. The prevalence of titles in the top ten with real-life stories of abuse tells me different, but is the inability to have a child so confronting and depressing, that no one wants to read it? Even the famous infertility bloggers, such as Tertia, Lollipop Goldstein and A Little Pregnant, whose on-screen musings garnered them big followings, didn't get the book deal until the babe arrived. Almost as though the journey of infertility wasn't fit for mainstream consumption or to carry the authority that a book potentially brings unless it has that de rigueur happy ending.
As for me, I absolutely want that happy ending. Then you can read all about it in my book!
What do you think of happy endings? Comment on Prue's blog.
Is the inability to have a child so confronting and depressing, that no one wants to read it?