It is 1982 New Orleans. Women can do just about anything they want, including breaking into all kinds of careers. And they don't have to worry about a baby getting in the way - it has been nine years since Roe v. Wade.
Ewen has created a great juxtaposition of two pregnant women. Rebecca has just become one of the two first women partners in a prestigious law firm when she finds out she is pregnant. When she tells Peter, a senior prosecutor, he is overjoyed. But she wonders how she will continue her work in the law firm.
Teenaged Glory Lynn has come into a women's clinic for an abortion. She had hopes of marrying the man but he has left her alone. She knows her life would be ruined with a baby. She's waited until her twenty second week, or maybe twenty third.
The abortion goes bad when there is a life birth. When the mother hears the baby cry, her life is changed. She wants her baby - alive. But the doctor instructs the nurse to take the baby away, to a utility room to die. Glory Lynn goes to the authorities asking that charges be brought against the doctor. Peter is given the case to prosecute and he decides to go for second degree murder.
The first half of the novel was slow. But the second half is a page turner. The novel centers around the live birth and the charge brought against the abortion doctor. A live birth was not something addressed by Roe v. Wade so we don't know how the trial will come out. I did feel that the law firm making so many allowances for Rebecca's pregnancy was unrealistic, considering other legal thrillers I've read.
In the Author's Notes, Ewen says there are thousands of infants alive today who have survived abortions. She includes testimony of a registered nurse given to a House committee in 2001. Although a federal law was passed (covering federal hospitals) and several states have passed laws protecting infants of live birth, it remains an ongoing horror.
This is a good novel, refreshing our minds again of the issues surrounding abortion.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Historical Legal Thriller, not for the faint-heart
September 5, 2013
Rebecca Downer Jacobs is about to be one of the first women admitted into partnership of her prominent New Orleans law firm. She's happily married with an exciting career, when something happens that's going to change everything. Meanwhile, Peter, her husband and senior district attorney, is in charge of a complex case with far-reaching legal consequences and moral implications for his Christian faith.
An Accidental Life is billed as the story of a legal case regarding the right to life of a baby accidentally born alive after a late-term abortion (the author calls this America's best-kept secret). It's set in 1982, just nine years after the landmark case of Roe vs. Wade legalised abortion, and the tension surrounding the case and the time setting are strengths of the novel.
The weakness is that it takes too long to get going. The prologue and first chapter are, I'm sorry to say, boring. They are little more than five years of backstory, explaining what has happened to Amalise and Rebecca since the conclusion of Chasing the Wind (which was a rare five-star read for me). This backstory is unnecessary, as An Accidental Life works well as a stand-alone story.
The novel might have been stronger if it focused more on the case and less on the challenges Rebecca and Amalise faced as female lawyers in the early 1980's. It isn't that I'm unsympathetic to their challengesâ€”I'm fascinated by them, as it's women like this in real life that paved the way for women like me to combine work and family. I suspect An Accidental Life was trying to do too much. And it's possible this is more the fault of the publisher than the authorâ€”B&H announced earlier this year that they are withdrawing from the fiction market . It could well be that the author didn't get the editorial support the novel required.
Despite these problems, An Accidental Life is a solid read. The characters are faced with difficult yet realistic choices, the plot is certainly original, and the Christian element, while present, wasn't overbearing. And although the last third of the novelâ€”the legal caseâ€” was outstanding, the excellent premise didn't quite deliver as a whole novel.
Thanks to B&H Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
Rebecca and Peter Jacobs have persevered in climbing their respective corporate ladders to achieve their highest goals. Rebecca has attained the status of partner in a prestigious law firm, and Peter is a Senior Assistant District Attorney. Deeply in love and living a life of affluence the couple is suddenly faced with life-changing events, and Peter is facing the most challenging and heart wrenching case in his career. "An Accidental Life" reveals one of the country's most despicable secrets, late-term abortion by induction, producing live-born fetuses. This story is based on factual testimony in a case before a US Congressional Committee regarding live-born fetuses who are placed in soiled utility rooms to die.
The author has broached the topic of abortion in a very sensitive and compassionate manner, with candor, truth and honesty. A cast of distinctive characters are presented in a credible style and their lives are interwoven throughout this unfolding drama. The investigation and courtroom scenes are authentic, compelling and pragmatic! I am impressed with the author's capacity to present factual events in a fictional manner creating an emotional roller coaster for the reader. This book is powerful and influential!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Wynn-Wynn Media in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.