Small Pleasures: Intriguing, wise mystery about women’s lives
Clare Chambers has written a cliche-free period piece with a virgin birth at its centre
Clare Chambers has written an unusual novel
A virgin birth is quite the topic for a novel, especially one set in suburban London in the 1940s. Greek and Roman mythology abound with tales of miraculous births. So too do the scriptures, with several instances to be found in the Bible, most notably the birth of Jesus.
In fiction, miraculous births are more difficult to find. Fiction demands a higher standard of plausibility than non-fiction, as every writer knows, which perhaps explains it. John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meaney is a rare instance of one, featuring a claim of a virgin birth by a dour couple who run a granite quarry in New Hampshire. Clare Chambers adds to this intriguing subgenre with her new novel, Small Pleasures.