What are the limits of maternal love? How do children fare in its absence? Is mothering a socialised behaviour or a biological impulse? These are the questions Alice Nelson pursues in her second novel, The Children’s House, which draws its title from the name given to the separate quarters alloted to children in the communal child-rearing characteristic of life in kibbutzim in Israel. The idea underpinning this parenting model is utopian, egalitarian, and socialist: the community, rather than the mother or father, assumes responsibility for the child; the parents, alleviated from the financial burden of caretaking, are free to pursue bonding and love in a way that capitalist imperatives preclude.
Sarah Holland-Batt reviews 'The Children’s House' by Alice Nelson
Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month. We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen. If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Sarah Holland-Batt's most recent book of poems is The Hazards (UQP, 2015), which was winner of the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Poetry and was shortlisted in the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards, the NSW Premier's Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry, the AFAL John Bray Memorial Poetry Prize, and the Queensland Literary Awards Judith Wright Calanthe Award. She is the editor of The Best Australian Poems 2016 (Black Inc.), is poetry editor of Island, and works as an Associate Professor at QUT.
By this contributor
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.