Madonna and ChildMadonna and Child


Benn argues that there has been an unrecognised social revolution centering on experience of motherhood versus society’s ideas of women’s lives in the 90s. Whilst women are supposed to have it all there is a gap between women’s experience of being mothers and societal perceptions of motherhood. Originally published in 1998 by Jonathan Cape.


Scholarly but immensely readable look at how 1990s women juggle the demands and pleasures of motherhood with their need to maintain a presence in the world of work. A writer and mother of two, Melissa Benn examines the lifestyles of working mothers from all backgrounds to see how they cope – from the single parent settling for part-time drudgery, to the brilliant freelancer who misses out on plum jobs because she can’t ‘show her face’ at breakfast meetings and bar-room banter sessions, to the ultimate careerist mother Cherie Blair. Benn concludes that a proper management of parenthood and a true equality between the sexes will not be possible until the UK jettisons its crude and punitive ‘long-hours’ culture – until career commitment is measured by something more subtle than the sheer length of time we spend at our desks each day. With flexible and part-time working schemes increasingly available, Benn demonstrates that it is time both mothers and fathers began the move towards a more balanced and integrated lifestyle in which the demands and rewards of work and family can be more equitably shared.
– Kirkus UK

‘ It came as a relief, a revelation even, to read Melissa Benn’s excellent account of modern motherhood. Tender and thoughtful… . Benn gives life to the dim, complex world of motherhood.’
– Isabel Fonseca, The Independent

‘Madonna and Child is a warm, compassionate and unfailingly intelligent analysis of how, despite all the advances wrought by feminism and equal opportunities legislation, women still bear full domestic burdens as well as new burdens of work and financial responsibility………She is particularly eloquent and persuasive on the topsy-turvy hierarchies of value in modern society.’
– Catherine Lockerbie, The Scotsman

‘A reflective, rich and rewarding investigation…………It is an enlightening agenda in the feminist tradition.’
– The Literary Review

– Scotland on Sunday

‘I would wager my worldly possessions on the hunch that I will be the only male reviewer of this wonderful book. Benn is not scared to complicate before she concludes, tracing the threads of power, selfishness and ambition – in both men and women – before urging ‘domestic democracy.’
Frank magazine