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Matrescence: on the Metamorphosis of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Motherhood

UK Publisher: Penguin Press
US Publisher: Pantheon

During pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood, women undergo a far-reaching physiological, psychological and social metamorphosis.

There is no other time in a human’s life course that entails such dramatic change-other than adolescence. And yet this life-altering transition has been sorely neglected by science, medicine and philosophy. Its seismic effects go largely unrepresented across literature and the arts. Speaking about motherhood as anything other than a pastel-hued dream remains, for the most part, taboo.

In this ground-breaking, deeply personal investigation, acclaimed journalist and author Lucy Jones brings to light the emerging concept of ‘matrescence’. Drawing on new research across various fields – neuroscience and evolutionary biology; psychoanalysis and existential therapy; sociology, economics and ecology – Jones shows how the changes in the maternal mind, brain and body are far more profound, wild and enduring than we have been led to believe. She reveals the dangerous consequences of our neglect of the maternal experience and interrogates the patriarchal and capitalist systems that have created the untenable situation mothers face today.

Here is an urgent examination of the modern institution of motherhood, which seeks to unshackle all parents from oppressive social norms. As it deepens our understanding of matrescence, it raises vital questions about motherhood and femininity; interdependence and individual identity; as well as about our relationships with each other and the living world.


“The best book I’ve ever read about motherhood. Myths are smashed from page one…Essential reading, bloody and alive, roaring and ready to change conversations.” —The Observer

“I loved this book. It’s a questioning, intelligent investigation into the process of becoming a mother, sparked by Jones’ own life but looked at from all angles: environmental, social, historical, neurobiological, psychoanalytical, and more. She suggests that portrayals of motherhood as either rose-tinted bliss or boring drudgery means we fail to prepare women for its reality—and we also fail to allow for its wilder, radical possibilities. Revelatory.” —Joanna Quinn, author of The Whalebone Theatre

“Jones writes beautifully with searing honesty about life-changing physical and emotional impact of having a child.” —The Times

“Excellent…In fact, Jones seems to come as close as it’s possible to describing this indescribable moment in a woman’s life.” —The Spectator

“A beautiful contemplation of the extraordinary yet ordinary metamorphosis that adult humans undergo as they become mothers. I was entranced…A passionate and powerful maternal roar for change.” —Gaia Vince, author of Adventures in the Anthropocene

Lucy Jones is a writer and journalist, she was Deputy Editor of and previously at the Daily Telegraph. She...