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Childless: A Story of Freedom and Longing

Sian Prior

  • awardShortlisted, Non-fiction, The Age Book of the Year Award, 2022
  • I always wanted to have children. The earth might be in trouble—overpopulated, descending into ecological crisis—but I was always sure my kids would help make the world a better place. I would be a green-feminist supermum, having it all. Nothing turned out the way I expected.

    Like many women, Sian Prior arrived at the point where she was ready to start having babies—and found they were not hers to have. Three miscarriages with a supportive partner; a new partner who already had all the children he wanted; step-children; step-grandchildren; the decision to parent solo, followed by many rounds of fertility treatments.

    After all this Sian found herself, at fifty, childless and coming to terms. Weighing up the freedoms against the losses. Dealing with the unacknowledged legacy of her own lost father. Observing parenthood itself—how we succeed at it and how we fail—from a perspective outside the trenches.

    Compelling, moving, beautifully written and unexpectedly uplifting, Childless is her story.


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    Sian Prior
    About the Author

    Sian Prior is a Melbourne-based writer, broadcaster, musician and creative-writing teacher. She has been an ABC radio host and a regular columnist for the Age/Sydney Morning Herald. Her first book, Shy: a memoir was published in 2014.

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    29 March 2022
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    Praise for Sian Prior

    ‘An acutely observed, beautifully written and moving account of the pain – and consolations – of childlessness. Childless is shot through with life, joy and the willingness to face the present with a powerful and unflinching gaze. A wonderful book.’

    ‘Honest, gentle, full of grief, joy, and wisdom. I adored this book.’

    ‘The fluidity of [Sian Prior’s] prose matches her description of grief as treading water…This book is the product of her time afloat and shows her full immersion in the one life, by chance or choice, that is hers.’

    Childless is a welcome interruption to the ideology of motherhood (frequently presumed to be the natural state of the female subject), and an incredibly candid account of the way that the female body can torture and foil the person who inhabits it… There is a sadness here, of course, but also many moments of joy and humour, and a story of living with purpose and intention…I hope so many people read this book—people with and without children, by choice or by fate—to understand an experience that is infrequently given space to exist in public, but which is by no means unique.’

    ‘Rich with evocative detail…Memoirs like Prior’s remind us that human experience is far more complex, that there are so many gradations, so much light and shadow.’

    ‘In Childless, [Sian Prior] brings a fresh and at times caustically honest approach to a subject that often remains unspoken: a woman of a certain age not having children. Prior’s writing is precise and stripped of sentimentality and her pinpoint powers of perception bring to light the assumptions that surround her status in the world, often at great cost.’

    ‘Unsentimental yet deeply intimate…ultimately a book about loss, hope and building a life that looks quite different to the one you’d always envisaged.’

    ‘A generously intimate and insightful book. Prior is porous and vulnerable with her story as she describes the rollercoaster of relationships, miscarriages, IVF cycles, love, lust, loss and loneliness that comes with trying to conceive over many years…alive with questions and a subterranean depth…This is the work of a beautifully observant writer who leans into life’s hardest moments.’

    ‘Deeply raw and potent…I recommend this for anyone who’s experienced infertility, or anyone who knows someone who has experienced infertility—which, I have to tell you, is everyone.’

    Other editions ofChildless
    • Childless
      ISBN: 9781922459862
      29 March 2022
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    Other Titles bySian Prior