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The Most Natural Thing In The World – collected edition by Francesca Cassavetti

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By including Francesca Cassavetti's collected edition of TMNTITW here, I don't wish to 'medicalise' childbirth. As the title suggests, women had been doing it themselves for a long time before maternity units, midwives and obstetricians. I am including it because medical staff do have a role to play nowadays and it is good to know how 'we' are percieved by the 'service user' so I will happily include any comics with depictions of healthcare workers. I also include it because I think it's a great little graphic novel; It is funny, light-hearted, self depreciating, and very, very well observed. The book has everything that is good about comics: sophisticated characters realised with a few deft strokes of the brush; enough detail to carry the story; exagerated expressions and postures that make me laugh; the occasional talking cat; animals expressing annoyance or surprise; puking adults and peeing babies. It made me chortle out loud throughout, Francesca's drawings are just so funny... this is what I enjoy so much about good cartooning: I find myself laughing at a simple drawing of her washing the baby under a shower hose and I could't begin to explain why I find it so amuzing. It is rare that prose is so affecting.
There is little 'melodrama' here, no disasters (thankfully, as one comes to care for Nick and Francesca as one follows their story). This is the gentle, humourous story of a romance, marriage and pregnancy, of making the most natural decision and finding out that there is more to it than one bargained for. It is a story about a couple muddling their way through events together, arguing and making up, annoying friends and getting annoyed by them. Francesca (who initiated the baby idea) finds herself, post partum, a prisoner to her responsibilities. She has the blues and it is hard going for a while. I would imagine that this is an experience to which many will relate. She resents not being able to go out and socialise but the first time they get a babysitter she is wracked with anxiety and unable to enjoy herself.
This book is a gem. It would, I'm sure. be appreciated by those embarking on, or who have been through a pregnancy, but it makes for an entertaining, informative read that will be enjoyed by all.

key themes: pregnancy childbirth relationships

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