XX by Angela Chadwick: Book Review
8th January 2019
A groundbreaking clinical trial means women can conceive without men
XX by Angela Chadwick tells the story of Rosie and Jules, a couple who take part in a groundbreaking clinical trial that enables two women the chance to have a female baby. So called “ovum to ovum technology” has been effectively tested on animals, but now the technology is being tested on women for the first time. Rosie and Jules jump at the chance of making history:
“This is about us being able to have a baby just like any other couple….Our baby, half me, half Jules”
Yet politicians and far right movements are quick to whip up a frenzied backlash. What will happen to the number of little boys born? Is there a sinister plot to eradicate men? Why should there be taxpayers money be spent on this type of technology? In this toxic climate Rosie and Jules face a tirade of hate, the invasion of their privacy and are betrayed by those closest to them.
“Dr Jasper Kronin who specialises in analysing long-term population trends, estimates that the number of males being born in this country could decline by as much as 18% in a decade….It’s social engineering on the scale of Nazi eugenics.”
What makes XX so gripping is that it is so believable – a reality that could undoubtedly play out over the next five to ten years. Angela sensitively grapples with issues surrounding love, gender roles and fertility all set against the rise of far right movements and the use social media in public debate and political campaigning. It really is a thought-provoking, brilliant and timely novel.
But how close are we to female only reproduction?
In China this year, healthy mice with two mothers were born for the first time. They produced 29 live mice from 210 embryos. The mice were normal, lived to adulthood and had babies of their own. These findings – for the first time – show that the biological barriers to same-sex reproduction can, technically, be overcome.
This year also marked another breakthrough – a same sex couple made medical history by carrying the same baby. They used a technique called INVOcell where the creation of the embryo took part in one woman’s uterus, and after five days it was transferred into her partners womb who carried the baby to term.
It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come. 2018 marked the 40th birthday of Louise Brown, the first baby to be conceived by IVF. Today it’s estimated that 8 million people have been born via IVF. Yet at the time tabloids questioned the advent of “Frankenbabies” and sent enough paparazzi to Oldham to spark a bomb scare, causing the evacuation of the hospital. When the new family arrived home in Bristol together, 100s of reporters blocked the streets – a scene reminiscent of XX.
Want to discuss these issues more? Come join Angela and other leading experts at our event!
We’re delighted to announce that Angela will be speaking at our event on the future of women’s health – she’ll be discussing what inspired her to write the book and how we might grapple with what the future holds.
You can buy Angela’s brilliant debut novel here – she’ll also be selling and signing books at the event.