cover image Labor Pains

Labor Pains

Kate Klimo. Crown Publishers, $17.95 (312pp) ISBN 978-0-517-56941-2

As this slick contemporary novel begins, five women are introduced to each other at their first Lamaze class in a hospital on Manhattan's West Side. From there Klimo ( Golden Triple Time ) takes each back to the time of her baby's conception, tracing the characters' lives until all deliveries are satisfactorily accomplished. Kendra Madison, an artist who grew up WASP and wealthy in Connecticut, calls herself the token Single Mother; Irish Catholic Mary Beth Rapasardi is accompanied by her husband, though she isn't quite sure he is the father of her child. Louise Rosen, taking the class as a refresher, is with her resistant spouse Marty, who thought three children in three years were enough already; successful editor and publisher Carleen Donovan is still ambivalent about her condition, after the fertility-clinic indignities she and her sportswriter husband have suffered for the privilege. On the roster but not present is Kendra's best friend Jill English, whose story will be included with the others. Taking full advantage of the novelistic opportunities inherent in her plot, Klimo exposes her characters to the various joys, vicissitudes and anxieties of pregnancy, as well as the different styles, types and surprises of delivery. Breezy and uninhibited, this tale of modern-day relationships and pre-partum mores catches particularly well each woman's increasing self-absorption as her pregnancy advances. (September)