Kolker’s a very good writer. He has to be, to get the reader through this story. Self has been reading with a sense of growing horror.


Peter, the tenth son, was born on November 15, 1960. This time, Mimi had a long stay in the hospital afterward with a severe prolapse, along with a blood clot in her left leg. Now there were fewer jokes about how Mimi ought to wear garlic to bed to fend off her husband at night. Her doctor gravely told her that her childbearing years were behind her. Fifteen years of more or less continuous pregnancy, labor, and delivery would seem to be enough for anyone. But Mimi did not seem interested in listening, even when others pleaded with her.

“Really, dear, you should give poor ‘Major Galvin’ a turn at the hospital,” Mimi’s paternal grandfather, Lindsey Blayney, wrote to her. “But, seriously, I am concerned about you.”

* * *

In 1961, mere months after giving birth to Peter, Mimi became pregnant for the eleventh time.

Seriously, she was hospitalized for a long time, and almost the first thing she does after getting home is get pregnant again? So they were Catholic, didn’t believe in birth control etc., but — seriously? Apart from the health problems, who was going to be financially responsible for all these children?

When Mimi’s grandfather received a Christmas card from Mimi showing her 10 children arrayed along a winding staircase, she and her husband at the head, she carrying her eleventh, he said he found the photo “startling.” I’d say!

What is wrong with the husband also? It’s not just his wife’s responsibility!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. And read more books.

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