Welcome To Your New Life

Anna Goldsworthy

Welcome To Your New Life
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Welcome To Your New Life

Anna Goldsworthy

‘You are fluid, composed of smoke or air, morphing between ectoplasm and skeleton. It is a dance, a cosmic strip show: a flash of spine, and then a rib cage, clean as a fish. Who is laying these bones down, one by one? Is it me who is making you, or are you making yourself?’

When Anna Goldsworthy, pianist and perfectionist, falls pregnant with her first child, her excitement is tempered by the daunting journey ahead. In Welcome to Your New Life, she shares the dizzying wonder and crippling anxiety that come with creating new life.

Should she indulge her craving for sausage after sixteen years of not eating meat? Will her birth plan involve Enya or hypnosis, or neither? And just how worried should she be about her baby falling into a composting toilet?

This captivating memoir combines warmth and humour to reveal the love that binds families together. Welcome to Your New Life evokes the shock of plunging into a life-changing adventure and the kicking required to return to the surface.

Review

Anna Goldsworthy’s debut memoir, Piano Lessons, followed her emergence into the world of classical music and subsequent rise to fame. Her second, Welcome to Your New Life, is a record of the birth of her first child. It begins with the pangs of food cravings, a desire for cevapcici sausage that ‘hits with the specificity of a crush’ after sixteen years of vegetarianism. And yet ‘my mouth remembers, my tongue remembers … The sausage’s loud clang against the tastebuds, of spice and flesh and fat.’

Needless to say, Goldsworthy’s voice is as graceful and silvered as the music she so loves. It dips and sighs and hurries, relaying her experiences with a precision as sharp and exact as a high-definition image. We glide on in her wake throughout it all: her slightly ill-timed announcement to her partner, Nicholas, her haphazard search for the right birth plan, the blood disorder that makes her an ‘interesting patient’ to the medical staff. Then, later, the awe of a new life: the pain of breastfeeding a tongue-tied infant, sleep deprivation leading to sleep school, the revelation of words and personality. Alongside this are some moments of wonderful parental comedy (chief among these is a line of sleepless night-time reasoning during a terrible summer heatwave that leads Goldsworthy to the firm conclusion that her baby is in danger of falling down the drop dunny of a holiday house).

There is also a searching awareness of the cultural politicisation of pregnancy and new motherhood in a world where everyone has an opinion on how it should be done. But Goldsworthy plays on these notes subtly and softly. Welcome to Your New Life is a memoir that is neither absolute nor overarching, but rather something that sits elegantly between the brackets as a slice of time.


Jessica Au is the editor of the Readings Monthly and an occasional bookseller down at Readings St Kilda. Her first novel, Cargo was published in 2011.

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