It is December 1964. Jane’s mother is preparing for Christmas while Jane is refusing to take a do-it-yourself abortion pill from her school chum Rita. Persuading the father of the child, Nick, to be with her on Christmas Eve, Jane announces to her parents she is pregnant. Her mother wishes she’d dug the baby out with knitting needles. Jane’s father threatens Nick, throwing him out of the house. Nick leaves without saying ‘Good-bye’.
Jane’s summer of love has presented her with an appalling dilemma: to marry a man she now knows is a coward or to face the future as an outcast with a child to care for. It is vital for her respectable mother to keep her daughter’s shame secret. Any love is smothered as she berates Jane for bringing disgrace into the family. Imprisoned in the house, Jane waits in vain for Nick to give her some kind of support, but he cannot even keep a job. While her mother turns to an old friend from the war, Fiona, for comfort, Jane is consigned to the care of a moral welfare officer. Fiona has the answer to Jane’s mother’s predicament. The following spring, Jane is banished to a mother-and-baby home.
Perhaps the first of its kind, The Baby Box is a frank memoir, set in the 1960s, of a pregnant schoolgirl, written in a compelling first person account. The book highlights the prejudices of the day with some distressing, sometimes disturbing, truths. But this is not a misery memoir. Moving into the mother-and-baby home brings tales of the other girls, maintaining an upbeat story. Those who enjoy memoirs, especially those reminiscent of an era, as well as readers who are looking for a true story with depth, will be engrossed in this tale of lies, deceptions and hidden shame, but ending in redemption.