Today’s book is from Héloïse Press, a new publisher based in Canterbury that specialises in women’s voices. Laura Vogt is a Swiss author writing in German.
What Concerns Us is about two sisters and their differing experiences of pregnancy and motherhood. The father of Rahel’s son left her suddenly. When she meets a writer named Boris, Rahel decides to make a new family unit with him. But when they have a daughter together, Rahel goes into postnatal depression.
Rahel’s sister Fenna is in a relationship with her abusive partner Luc. She turns up at Rahel’s and Boris’s farmhouse, pregnant and unable to decide whether to blame herself. Then along comes the sisters’ ill mother Verena, and their relationships are tested and reconfigured under the same roof.
Vogt’s writing (in Caroline Waight’s translation) is always close to its characters’ experiences of being their bodies. That makes the reading of What Concerns Us raw, sometimes painful, so often compelling.