An Innocent, a Broad

Leary, Ann

Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, 2005
ISBN 10: 0060527242 / ISBN 13: 9780060527242
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When Ann Leary and her husband, then unknown actor-comedian Denis Leary, flew to London in the early nineties for a brief getaway during Ann's second trimester of pregnancy, neither anticipated the adventure that was in store for them. The morning after their arrival, Ann's water broke as they strolled through London's streets. A week later their son, Jack, was born weighing only two pounds, six ounces, and it would be five long months before mother and son could return to the States.

In the meantime, Ann became an unwitting yet grateful hostage to Britain's National Health Service -- a stranger in a strange land plunged abruptly into a world of breast pumps and midwives, blood oxygen levels, mad cow disease, and poll tax riots. Desperately worried about the health of her baby, Ann struggled to adapt to motherhood and make sense of a very different culture. At once an intimate family memoir, a lively travelogue, and a touching love story, An Innocent, a Broad is utterly engaging and unforgettable.

Review: Just 26 weeks into her first pregnancy, Ann Leary's water broke--an event she sardonically refers to as "the PROM" (doctor-speak for "premature rupture of membranes). Unfortunately for her, the "PROM" took place while she was strolling along Oxford Street during a weekend trip to London, where her (then-unknown) husband Denis Leary was booked to perform a BBC comedy show. Forbidden to return home and placed on total bed rest, Ann gets "knackered" from the medications pumped into her body to prevent premature labor. In some of the book's funniest passages, she makes great efforts to prevent her many hospital roommates from discovering she's American, lest they suspect she's freeloading off the National Health Service. (Don't let the bad pun of the book's title put you off; Ann's sense of humor is often as biting and gritty as her husband's).

Despite the doctors' best efforts, baby Jack is born two weeks later, while Denis is back in the U.S. working at comedy clubs (and trying to keep the couple from being evicted from their apartment). Jack is in relatively good shape, but Ann's mental state is at risk, as sleep deprivation, anxiety, and loneliness get the best of her. Among her postpartum goofs is befriending another woman whose baby is also in intensive care; she mistakes her for a slim, serene Earth Mother instead of the heroin-addict she really is. So, An Innocent, A Broad is not so much a drama of Jack's survival as much as it is a chuckle-fest at the expense of both Ann's predicament and of the Brits in general, whose overwrought sense of propriety is mocked non-stop. Beware if you think this might seem a perfect gift for a pregnant woman; the belly laughs are constant and likely to cause any expectant woman's water to break. --Erica Jorgensen

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Title: An Innocent, a Broad
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: 2005
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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